2013 Saint Herman Pilgrimage
August 7-9, 2013
Archimandrite David [Mahaffey], Chancellor and Administrator of the Diocese of Alaska, was the keynote speaker at a lenten retreat for clergy wives of the Kuskokwim and Yukon Deaneries at Saint James Church, Napaskiak, AK April 6-7, 2013.
A widower, Father David shared stories from his life with his late wife, Matushka Karen, and spoke on “Famous Mothers in the Bible.” Welcoming the many participants were Priest Vasily Fisher, rector, and Archpriest Philip Alexie, Dean of the Kuskokwim Deanery.
The gathering also provided an opportunity for Father David to meet with Deanery clergy.
The Diocese of Alaska welcomes our new
Archimandrite David (Mahaffey)
Updated contact information can be found here
Be Joyful, Brothers and Sisters, and Keep your Faith
by Archimandrite David (Mahaffey)
Now that I have arrived in Alaska, I want to share a few thoughts with you all as we begin together this new chapter in the rich history of the Orthodox Church of Alaska. I must admit that when I was first approached about coming to Alaska, I was hesitant. A land so far, so different and with an entirely different culture that I had ever know, could God possibly want me to even visit there? Yet, as always, I put my trust in God’s will first and I came to see if this was His will or my own ambition. It was January and I was sent to the Kuskokwim where the temperatures in January are almost never above zero degrees. I also visited other places as well, Sitka, Juneau, Anchorage and Kodiak, during one of the worst winters on record. Yet, the weather played little role in what I experienced; it was the warmth of the Faithful, clergy and people, that gave me a wonderful warmth and a loving, spiritual embrace that overcame any difficulties I encountered with the weather. I was becoming very attracted to this land and its people and I could feel a gentle “push” from God to return when I could. Two more visits, one in March and one in July/August and I was hooked (forgive the pun, but the analogy was Christ’s own for his Apostles, was it not?). After discussion with my children, and armed with their support and many prayerful nights, I decided that if it was God’s will, and the people of Alaska chose me, I would return as their bishop elect.
So here I am, not quite settled yet, but able to work amid the boxes and clutter attached to moving, and finding it even better than I imagined. Very soon we will begin in earnest the Great Lent, with all the Divine Services and added prayers, we will be become “Spiritually Busy”. This is the best kind of busy, in which we unite our daily lives more closely to the life of Christ, as we all take on the “Podvig” of Lent both individually and collectively, supporting each other on the journey to Holy Pascha. St. Theophan the Recluse says that the spirit hates sin, while the flesh dwells in it. How is this battle within ourselves to be resolved? Through podvig, that spiritual struggle of bringing the soul into mastery over the body. So my own Lenten effort will require an even greater podvig as I work to integrate my life into an Alaskan life, filled with an Alaskan-styled Spirituality, Faith and Cultural growth centered around that goal we should all have, a life more like Christ’s life in every way. That is the only life that exemplifies a genuine and authentic manner of living, one that says, no matter where we live, or what era of the Church we exist in, it always must have only one and the same goal, to become an authentic Christian, a witness to those around us that tells them, Christ abides here, in me, in my church, and in my diocese.
When I arrived on February 27, the first service I attended was the Akathist to Saint Herman of Alaska at St. Innocent’s Cathedral. I want to reiterate to all of you what I said then, so that we all understand what we are doing together for the uplifting of God’s Holy Church. If there is one “theme” that should underscore our every action, our every desire as Christians, it should be that one, common, simple but significant idea of the Christian life as given to us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that we need the Church of Christ for our Salvation. It exists for that purpose, and was given to us by Christ, through the Holy Apostles and handed down century after century, bishop by bishop, priest by priest, laity by laity, working together to fulfill the Gospel of Love that is Jesus Christ.
So if anyone asks, “What did this new Administrator say when he came here?” You tell them he said, “I cannot be saved without you, and you cannot be saved without me, we are all in this
together.” That is the duty of every Christian, to let his/her brothers and sisters know that they matter to God, and they matter to us; we are all significant in a unique way, because we are all made in the image of God, and we are all called live out that image in our daily life. The Church is here to help us do that, and to give thanks to God for His many blessings and love He has for us all.
In closing, I am reminded of the saying of my own Patron saint, St. David of Wales, who told everyone, "Be joyful, brothers and sisters. Keep your faith, and do the little things that you have seen and heard with me." They hearken to St. Herman’s own words, do they not, "From this day, from this hour, from this moment, let us love God above all and fulfill His Holy Will."
Let us all be joyful and keep this Divinely-gifted Faith pure and untarnished until the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
It is my prayer that God will bless you and keep you, and provide for your every need, and I ask in return your prayers not only for my own unworthy self, for without your prayers I fear I will not be able to fulfill God’s will in our God-loving Diocese of Alaska, but for all the people of Alaska, that they may come to the True Faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
Your servant in Christ,
Administrator and Chancellor of the Diocese of Sitka and Alaska
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