Thursday, August 9, 2012

Herman of Alaska, Monk & Missionary

We do not often think of Russians as having evangelized any part of the Americas, but sometimes we forget how close we are to Russia by way of Alaska.  Today, the Church remembers a Russian Orthodox monk, Herman, who lived was born in 1756 and who died in 1837 in Spruce, Alaska, who was a missionary in Kodiak, Alaska. 

Herman entered a Russian Orthodox monastery, Trinity-St. Sergius Hermitage near St. Petersburg, at the age of 16. Eventually he was tonsured a monk, though he was never ordained to the priesthood.  Herman was selected to go on a mission to the Alaskan Territory; he went with 7 other monks.

They arrived on Kodiak Island on 24 September 1794. The monks converted the native Aleuts, and as time progressed they found themselves protecting the natives from exploitation and abuse. Because of this moral stance the monks themselves were abused, arrested and physically threatened. In time, enduring hardship, inclement weather, illness and more, Herman stood as the only remainder from the original band of missionaries, the others either being martyred for their faith, dying of natural causes or returning to Russia.

Herman eventually built a hermitage on Spruce Island, about a mile and a quarter from Kodiak Island. A small chapel was built as well, along with a school and guest house. The local people would visit him often. He devoted his life to prayer and to performing those services he could do as a simple monk who had not been ordained to the priesthood.

My wife, Mary, and I just returned from a week in Alaska.  It is indeed a beautiful, untamed frontier.  Even today, the vast land of Alaska is sparsely populated.  One has to admire and respect those who lived in Alaska, like Herman and his band of monastic brothers, during a time when there were no modern conveniences.

Let us pray:  Holy God, we bless your Name for Herman, joyful north star of Christ’s Church, who came from Russia to bring the Good News of Christ’s love to your native people in Alaska, to defend them from oppressors and to proclaim the Gospel of peace; and we pray that we may follow his example in proclaiming the Gospel; through the same Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, throughout all ages. Amen.


Art Class with Lee Runion, Friday evening, 10 August and then continuing on Saturday, 11 August.  The class will be making “yard bugs!”

Seaside Seniors, Thursday, 16 August in Sutton Hall.

The Feast Day of St. Augustine will be celebrated on Sunday, 26 August starting with Eucharist Rite II at 9 a.m. and a luncheon after the service.

Please remember everyone on our prayer list, especially, the family of Corlie Jackson whose mother died recently, for the health of Lee Runion’s mother, Steve, Gladys, in thanksgiving for a generous gift to the Discretionary Fund, and for all of those who are travelling.

Your servant in Christ,

Fr. Chester J. Makowski+
St. Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church
Galveston, Texas 77550

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