Orthodox Christian Church bishop to visit
Metropolitan Christopher, Archbishop of Prague, the head of the Orthodox Christian Church in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and five other guests, will begin a two week visit to Alaska on July 28.
The delegation will visit the Alaska Native villages of Nondalton, Napaskiak, Tuluksak, Kwethluk, Eek, Quinhagak and the cities of Anchorage, Bethel and Kodiak, ending their visit at the annual St. Herman Pilgrimage to Spruce Island on Aug. 8-9.
Metropolitan Christopher heads a Church with over 1,200 years of Orthodox history, now being flooded with immigrants from other historically Orthodox countries — Ukraine, and Russia, but also Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia. Since the fall of communism, the Czech and Slovak Orthodox Church has built hundreds of new churches and ordained clergy, including recently one Roma (Gypsy) priest, to meet the needs of the growing flock.
Metropolitan Christopher welcomed Archbishop Benjamin, the current administrator of the Alaskan Orthodox Diocese, to his country last August, and in return, Archbishop Benjamin invited the archbishop to visit Alaska this year.
With him will be the Chancellor of the Church in the Czech Republic, Father Josef Hauzar, and the Secretary of the Holy Synod, Father Milan Gerka, the Chairpersons of the Department of Religious Education, Tatiana and Alexandra Strelcova, and their interpreter, Andrew Chrast.
During the visit he group will fly to Bethel and bless ground for a new Orthodox Church in Tuluksak, to be named for St. Prince Rastislav of Moravia. They will also visit Kwethluk to pray at the burial site of Matushka Olga Michael, whose miraculous appearances and healings have produced widespread support for her eventual glorification (canonization) as a saint. At the village of Eek they will bless the newly constructed church there, and continue to Quinhagak, the site of the first martyrdom on Alaskan soil, the death of St. Priest-monk Juvenaly and his Athabaskan Indian companion in 1798, for whom the new church in Wasilla is named. They will spend two days at the annual church conference in Napaskiak, and bless ground for a new church at Oscarville, before flying to Kodiak for the annual St. Herman Day celebrations, August 6-9, after which they we return to Anchorage for their return flight to Prague.