Remembering Bishop Basil
The Tenth Anniversary of his Repose
September 17, 2009
by Marilyn Swezey
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah presided over the commemorative events in Washington, DC as close family members, friends and spiritual children of Bishop Basil (Rodzianko) gathered to pray and remember their beloved hierarch on the tenth anniversary of his repose.
The commemoration began with Divine Liturgy on September 16, celebrated by Metropolitan Jonah in the small house chapel of Bishop Basil’s former residence which is still maintained by the Holy Archangels Foundation. Following the Liturgy, which His Beatitude served in Vladyka’s Episcopal vestments, a panikhida was served at the Bishop’s grave in Rock Creek cemetery.
On September 17, Metropolitan Jonah was the chief celebrant of the Memorial Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral, the Primatial Cathedral of the OCA, where Bishop Basil had served until his death on this day in 1999. “Ten years ago he died and was buried – and yet he is alive in our midst”, His Beatitude noted in his memorable sermon. “His presence is powerful and the grace of the Holy Spirit allows us to perceive that presence – that grace that came forth from him during his life through his prayers and the grace which comes forth from him now through his prayers”.
Following the Liturgy, a memorial luncheon was held in the church hall of the cathedral during which many warm memories and personal experiences with Bishop Basil were recalled. Alexis Liberovsky, Archivist of the OCA, presented two early letters written by the future Bishop to the OCA in 1939 and 1952 in which he expressed an interest In coming to America to continue his pastoral service. These letters were recently found in the OCA archives along with a particularly touching letter written by Bishop Basil less than a month before he died. It was addressed to a novice and spiritual son who had been an assistant to him and stressed humility, obedience and prayer, which perhaps summarizes Bishop Basil’s own legacy.
The Holy Archangels Foundation, devoted to preserving the archive and legacy of this great teacher of Orthodoxy, is the continuation of the Holy Archangels Broadcasting Center which was founded with Bishop Basil in 1986. Following his retirement as Bishop of San Francisco and the West in 1984, Bishop Basil returned to Washington, DC where he continued his broadcasting mission to Russia. His broadcasts had many listeners during the Soviet period and significantly contributed to the re-emergence of Orthodoxy in Russia.
Memorial services were also held in San Francisco at Holy Trinity Cathedral and the Church of Christ the Saviour; in Los Angeles at the Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral and in Moscow at the OCA podvorye, the Church of St. Catherine the Great Martyr.
An atmosphere of paschal joy was reported by participants everywhere. It was a milestone event, bringing the personal devotion of Bishop Basil’s spiritual children into the wider Church community.