Sunday December 9, 2012 commemorates the repose of St Innocent of Irkutsk (+26 November 1731) according to the church calendar. A special prayer service in front of the icon of St Innocent was led by the rector Fr Dionisy Pozdnyaev preceding the Sunday morning Divine Liturgy at SS Peter & Paul parish in Hong Kong. St Innocent was enthroned bishop of Pereyaslavl in 1721 and was assigned to be the first Bishop of Beijing after the official establishment of the Russian Orthodox Mission in China. Unfortunately due to diplomatic blunder, or more evidently by God’s Providence, at the Chinese border he was denied entry and instead took the see of Irkutsk in 1727, reviving the missionary diocese through much toil for four years until his repose in the Lord. His ministry did not end with his death but the uncovering of his incorrupt relics worked miracles and spread the light of Orthodoxy in all corners of Russian Siberia.
The Divine Liturgy was presided by Father Michael Li from Australia, concelebrating with Fr Vladimir Boikov from New Zealand and Fr Dionisy. Subdeacon Papiy Fuwas blessed to serve as acolyte, reading various prayers in Church Slavonic, and leading the procession of both the Little and Great Entrances. Fr Michael delivered thehomily in Mandarin Chinese. It was simultaneously translated into Russian and Cantonese for benefit of those present.
After Divine Liturgy, both parishioners and visitors gathered in the church hall for festive reception with Fr Michael and Matushka Anna. In the afternoon, they were treated at a local Chinese restaurant to a lenten meal.
Afterwards, they returned back to the church for further fellowship. Before their departure back to Australia and New Zealand, Fr Michael and Matushka Anna venerated the icon of St Innocent of Irkutsk one last time. This is a true miracle in that a hierarch that was not allowed to enter China in his earthly lifetime almost three centuries ago was finally welcomed with a holy kiss on Chinese soil by a Chinese priest under his heavenly omophorion.