In 2019, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the canonization of St John (Maximovich) of Shanghai and San Francisco the Miracle-worker.
The first event was the arrival of a large reliquary containing a portion of his remains and his belt to two parishes in Toronto, Ontario: Holy Trinity Cathedral and All Saints Romanian Orthodox Church.
On Friday, March 1, 2019, the relics were welcomed at the Romanian church. Priest Vasili Aileni, the parish rector, along with seven other priests were on hand. An akathist was performed to St John before the relics, then Fr Vasili told his congregants about his veneration of the saint: after his eldest daughter was born, his matushka Claudia was unable to have any more children for 8 years. A Nun Serafima from Romania visited their parish, who had just been in San Francisco, and brought oil from the crypt of St John. After learning that the priest’s family desired more children, she prayed and anointed matushka’s stomach with the oil in the form of a cross. Soon matushka Claudia became pregnant and gave birth to their second child, a girl, and two years later, a son was born. After hearing this story, Protopriest Peter Perekrestov, Senior Priest of San Francisco’s Cathedral of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow,” where St John’s remains abide, led a discussion with the congregants. The large number of Romanians in Toronto (which has 11 Romanian parishes) resulted in divine services ending at 11 pm.
On Saturday, March 2, St John’s reliquary was greeted at 7 pm at the entrance to Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church on Henry Street by Mitred Protopriest Vladimir Malchenko, Protopriest Vyacheslav Davidenko, Protodeacon Alexander Morin and Deacon Dimitri Chemeris, the cathedral’s parishioners and a multitude of faithful from the largest parish of the Russian Church in all of Canada. During all-night vigil, in addition to the regular prayers, the troparion and laudation to St John were sung. A large contingent of Orthodox Christians, Romanians, Serbs, Greeks, Macedonians and Canadians prayed at the service. After the reading of the Gospel, Fr Peter anointed the worshipers with oil from the crypt of St John.
On Sunday, March 3, the cathedral doors were opened at 7:30 am and the relics brought out of the altar into the nave of the church. The large space was overfilled by worshipers for Liturgy. The cathedral choir, under the direction of George Skok, sang the Cherubic Hymn composed by the renowned composer Mikhail Konstantinov, long-time choir director of the San Francisco cathedral, and Fr Peter delivered the sermon, in which he touched upon the spiritual causes of the fall of much of Western society.
After Liturgy, a blini luncheon was offered, with a variety of performances by students of the parish school. Fr Vladimir and Russian Consul General Kirill Mikhailov addressed the faithful, as did President of the Russian House, Olga Grebenchuk as well as Fr Peter. Afterwards, Fr Peter spent more time with the parishioners and told them about little-known details from the life of St John. Two excerpts of Fr Peter’s latest book on St John, Pastor. Teacher. Friend., were then read by Tatiana Sukhodolskaya, followed by a video presentation on St John and the celebration of his glorification.
At 5 pm, the worshipers gathered in church again for an akathist to St John. Fr Vladimir delivered a sermon in which he pointed to the importance of St John for contemporary Orthodox Christians, and how the parishioners of Holy Trinity Cathedral venerate his memory. Serbian Orthodox clerics participated in the services as well, which, as Fr Vladimir pointed out, seemed to be read “with one breath.” The believers, and even non-Orthodox attendees, touchingly stood in line to kiss the reliquary of St John, among them more than a few handicapped people in wheelchairs. On Monday, March 4, the reliquary left Toronto.
On June 1-2, the reliquary of St John will be brought to Elevation of the Holy Cross Cathedral in Geneva, Switzerland.
The main celebration of the 25th anniversary of the canonization of St John will be held in San Francisco on June 27-28. A session of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia will coincide with the event. Many visitors and pilgrims are expected at the event.