A written wreath for the fortieth day after his death
His Eminence, the Most Reverend Alypy, formerly Archbishop of Chicago and the Midwest, reposed in the Lord on 15/28 of April 2019, on the first day of the Holy Resurrection at 9 o’clock in the evening. He was 93 years old.
The late Vladyka, in the world Nikolai Michailovich Gamanovich, was born on 6/19 December 1926 in the Cherson region of Russia in the family of a blacksmith. At his baptism he was named in honor of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, the saint on whose day he was born. Despite the difficult life under the Soviets during the 1930s, when atheism was forcibly being planted everywhere, the young Nikolai was able to acquaint himself with the spiritual life through reading religious books that his grandfather had preserved. The lives of saints made an indelible impression on Nikolai, especially the lives of the holy ascetic fathers, and already in those years he desired to follow their example. In 1941, at the beginning of the war with Germany, the Cherson region was occupied by the German army, and in December 1942 Nikolai Gamanovich was forcibly sent to Germany as an ostarbeiter and placed in a work camp. In the following years the young man had to live and work in various work camps. By the end of the war he was working in Berlin at one of the city cemeteries. The working conditions were such that Nikolai had the opportunity to attend church services at the Russian Orthodox church in Berlin. There he met the monks from the monastery of Saint Job of Pochaev, who had been evacuated not long before from Slovakia, and on February 3, 1945, he left the ostarbeiter camp illegally and joined the monastery brotherhood. Five days later the brotherhood left Berlin for Bavaria, where it stayed until the end of the war. After Germany’s capitulation the brotherhood moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where the novice Nikolai, was tonsured a rassophore monk, on September 23, 1946. He was given the name Alypy in honor of Saint Alypy the iconographer of the Kiev Caves Monastery.
On December 1, 1946, rassophore monk Alypy and the Saint Job Brotherhood arrived at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York. Father Alypy spent the following twenty-eight years as a member of the brotherhood, fulfilling various obediences, the main one being in the iconography studio under the tutelage of the well-known iconographer archimandrite Kyprian (Pyzhov), who was his first and only teacher in the art of painting icons. In March of 1948 Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko) tonsured Father Alypy to the monastic mantle. Metropolitan Anastasy ordained Father Alypy hierodeacon in 1950 and hieromonk in 1954. In 1966 Father Alypy was granted the title hegumen.
During those years, Father Alypy graduated from the Holy Trinity Seminary with a Bachelor of Theology, and in 1970 received his master’s degree in Russian Philology from Norwich University in Vermont with high honors – Summa cum Laude.
One of the obediences that Father Alypy had was teaching at Holy Trinity Seminary, where he taught several subjects. During my years at the seminary, he taught the Church Slavonic and Greek languages, and the history of the Russian Church. His most notable input into our spiritual education was the publishing by Holy Trinity Monastery in 1964 of the Church Slavonic Grammar, the first of its kind that still does not have an equal. Several generations of clergy in Russia and abroad have studied using this textbook. During one of my many trips to Russia, in the 1990s, I was pleasantly surprised to see this textbook for sale in one of the central Moscow bookstores, if I’m not mistaken in “Akademkniga”. In the beginning of the 2000s this textbook was translated into English, which gave those who did not speak Russian an opportunity to study Church Slavonic.
Father Alypy in those years also carried the obedience of monastery sacristan, which was, due to the frequent monastic pontifical services, a responsible and busy position, in which he did well thanks to his painstaking and meticulous character. In addition, for several years he obediently served in the Protection of the Holy Virgin parish in Schenectady, NY, until the appointment of a permanent rector. Thus, the Lord gave him the opportunity to acquire pastoral experience prior to his being elevated to the episcopal ranks.
During the “monastic period” of the life of Vladyka Alypy, his name was repeatedly mentioned as a candidate to the rank of bishop, but he constantly shied away from this honor. Finally, in October 1974, at the insistent request of Archbishop Seraphim of Chicago, who, shortly before then had suffered a serious illness, Abbot Alypy was elevated to the rank of vicar Bishop of Cleveland to assist Archbishop Seraphim. Upon the death of the latter in 1987, Bishop Alypy was appointed as the ruling Bishop of the Chicago and Middle American Diocese. In 1990, he was raised to the rank of Archbishop. By the time of his episcopal consecration, Father Abbot Alypy was rightly considered one of the best, if not the best icon painter of the Russian diaspora. His high mastery in this area was recognized everywhere. Many of his icons adorn Orthodox temples and homes of Orthodox Christians in North America, bringing spiritual comfort to those who pray before them. In his speech, just before his consecration, archimandrite Alypy expressed the fear that his hierarchal duties would prevent him from further engaging in his favorite work of icon painting. However, God was pleased to see that his art did not dry out, and in the first “vicar” years he managed to complete the frescoes of magnificent Church of St. Sergius in Cleveland and partly the Church of All Saints of Russia in Denver. Before his consecration, he managed to paint the upper arches of the Assumption cemetery church in Jordanville, which in their subtle quality differ sharply from the rest of the frescoes, which were completed by other icon painters. The last monumental iconography by Vladyka Alypy was done for the Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral in Chicago completed in early 2002.
The main archpastoral works of Vladyka Alypy in Chicago consisted of moving the cathedral from a dangerous area of ??the city to a more suitable one, where the parishioners would not be afraid to come to church services in the evenings. In 1995, in a safe residential area, a 3-acre plot of land was acquired with a house, where under Vladyka’s leadership, a magnificent temple and a roomy hall were built. Vladyka settled in the house by the temple and lived there for almost a quarter of a century until his demise.
In 2002, the Lord sent Vladyka a difficult trial. Mobile and energetic for his 76 years, Vladyka did not disdain physical labor, cultivating an extensive garden in the churchyard, and personally conducting feasible repairs on the church grounds. He often could be seen on the roof of the church and in other unexpected places.
On April 18, 2002, while preparing for the Pascha holiday, Vladyka decided to bring the churchyard into order and prune the mulberry branches hanging over the drive around the church. As he was sawing a branch, Vladyka fell on the asphalt from a four-meter height, fracturing his spine. As a result of this injury, Vladyka remained crippled for the rest of his life, moving mainly in a wheelchair and sometimes with a walker. In this condition he remained for another 18 years. He carried the cross of this disability patiently and good-humoredly, without complaining to those surrounding him about his fate.
Not being able to perform services on his own, he constantly attended services, participated in the prayer life of the parish, often took Communion in the Altar, and often preached. We were glad that, despite his handicap, this aspect of pastoral service was still available to him. This also morally supported him, since he felt his word brought benefit to others. It also greatly eased the cathedral priests’ workload, for which we were very grateful to Vladyka. Vladyka always spoke very simply, but with great depth, and the people loved to listen to him. This lasted until Vladyka went blind and could no longer read and write. About three years before his death, Vladyka told me that due to his loss of vision, he could no longer prepare sermons, and so we had to fully assume this pastoral duty.
Despite his weak state, Vladyka supported us also in the spiritual realm. We were periodically approached by unfortunate, obsessed people with requests to perform exorcisms. Not every priest dares to perform this rite. We, the Chicago priests, are also not an exception. What were we to do in this case? We requested that Vladyka Alypy perform this rite. And he, physically weak, but spiritually strong, agreed: for some days he would remain in prayer and fasting and then he would perform the exorcism.
Vladyka was a living lesson for everyone around him and taught not so much with words as by personal example. He was temperate in everyday life. Living in a huge city where all kinds of personal comfort are easily accessible and “as if not sinful”, Vladyka’s dwelling was not much different from his cell in Holy Trinity Monastery: the same simplicity and modesty in everything, nothing superfluous.
Vladyka’s work ethic was also edifying. Wheelchair-bound, Vladyka, while he was strong enough, sought to labor in his favorite area – icon painting. Because of his spinal injury, he could not sit for a long time, no more than an hour, and very much lamented the fact that because of the pain he had to go to bed to rest, and during which time his freshly diluted paints dried up and he had to resume his work from the beginning each time.
Summarizing the above, let us recall the life example that the deceased Vladyka was to everyone around him: 1) Modesty and severity toward himself; 2) Softness and condescension to others; 3) Patient, uncomplaining bearing of the trials sent by God; 4) Diligence; 5) Constant prayer. For all these and many other personal qualities Vladyka Alypy was loved and respected by all surrounding him. Eternal memory to him.
The last illness and death of Archbishop Alypy occurred as follows. Throughout the last Great Lent, Vladyka began to weaken noticeably and went to the hospital several times. There it was determined that he had suffered several micro-strokes, because of which he had noticeable speech damage, and at times a clouding of consciousness. Still he continued to be regularly present in the church at the divine services. During the Divine Liturgy he was brought into the altar in his wheelchair, where he, in minor vestments, communed with the Holy Mysteries at the altar. He asked for confession frequently, and I can testify to his conscious penitential mood, despite the difficulties he had speaking. Vladyka took Communion in the altar for the last time during the Liturgy on the Praise of the Mother of God. A few days later he was diagnosed with pneumonia and began to slowly fade away. After the Royal Hours on Great Friday, the Canon for the Departure of the Soul was read by his bedside. Some of those who were present at the occasion expressed the assumption that the Lord would grant Vladyka a quiet repose and call him to Himself on the first day of Pascha, which in fact did happen. God granted him to commune of the Holy Mysteries two more times. Priest Leontiy Naidzions communed him during the Liturgy of Great Saturday and during the Liturgy on Pascha night. Vladyka went to the Lord Whom he faithfully served for seventy-four years painlessly, blamelessly, and peacefully, without any agony at nine o’clock in the evening on the first day of Holy Pascha.
The funeral service of Archbishop Alypy took place at the Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral on Bright Tuesday after Vespers, according to the Paschal rite of a priestly funeral, with the Apostolic and Gospel readings according to Tradition. The service was headed by His Eminence Peter, the ruling Archbishop of Chicago and Middle America, with the concelebration of the Romanian Metropolitan Nicholas, Serbian Bishop Longin, and Bishop Paul of the Orthodox Church in America and Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, along with an assembly of diocesan clergy and clergy from other Orthodox jurisdictions. Of great consolation to the flock was the letter of His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, read at the end of the funeral. The Patriarch expressed a warm and fatherly condolence from the distant homeland to the orphaned Chicago flock, noting Vladyka Alypy’s merits before God and the Church. The burial of Archbishop Alypy took place on Bright Friday, May 3, at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville in the monastic cemetery behind the altar of the monastic church.
Dean of the Holy Virgin
Protection Cathedral in ChicagoArchpriest Andrei Papkov