CHICAGO, IL [DOM Communications] – The faithful of the greater Chicago metropolitan area came together on the Saturday, October 30 and Sunday, October 31, to celebrate the Hieromartyr John, at the very location that he built and labored for Christ.
This annual solemn event, which the Orthodox Church in America celebrates every October 31, is in commemoration of the martyrdom of the holy missionary priest to America, St. John Kochurov. Having spent over a decade in this land, and having erected a temple in Chicago, he is greatly loved and honored as an American saint.
The parish which Father John came to serve shortly after graduating from the academy in St. Petersburg, Russia, Holy Trinity Cathedral, dedicates the month of October to their local saint. This celebration climaxed that weekend with an inaugural lecture by Priest Esteban Vazquez, entitled, “St. John Kochurov and the way of the Cross.” Speaking in the Rectory building in which St. John lived with his family while in Chicago, Fr. Esteban described the many difficulties that St. John endured and how his life followed the way of the Cross.
Father quoted various verses from Holy Scripture and developed the theme of the Cross, asking those in attendance to also reflect and understand the difficulties of this way of life; “beloved, God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life–and that plan includes being a loser in this world, dying to self, and perhaps even to be killed by the sword. This, and only this, is what it means to be a Christian, to bear the name of Christ and the sign of the scandal of his Cross. This, and only this, is the meaning of the life of our beloved St. John, whom we honor today.”
Following the lecture, the bells rang calling all to the All-night Vigil held in honor of the Resurrection, and the feast of St. John of Chicago. Local parishes from all over the Chicago Deanery joined this celebration. Priest Alexander Koranda, Cathedral Dean presided over the services and was joined by, Archpriest Herman Kincaid, Rector of St. Peter and St. Paul Church, Bur Ridge, IL; Priest Jacob Van Sickle, Rector of Protection of the Virgin Mary Church, Merrillville, IN; Priest Jonathan Lincoln, Rector of Christ the Savior Church, Chicago, IL; Priest Philip Maikkula, head of the St. Makarios Mission, Chicago, IL. Additionally, Cathedral deacon’s Thomas Keith and Paul Garklavs, Deacon Nikolai Lochmatow of Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral (ROCOR), and Deacon Andrew Bender of Christ the Savior Church. The choir was under the direction of Reader Philip Sokolov.
Following the First Hour, everyone was invited to the hall to enjoy refreshments and fellowship.
On Sunday, Fr. Alexander led the divine services at the cathedral with faithful from all over Chicagoland, including the Orthodox Christian Fellowship from DePaul University, and a group of students from North Park University. During his homily, Father talked about two themes of St. John’s life: his missionary efforts and martyrdom. He went on to explain that when you start speaking about these themes, or even yet, begin to live in such a missionary way, it becomes very difficult to differentiate between missionary efforts and martyrdom. “When we live as missionaries, those who spread the Good News of our Lord, we are constantly called to die to ourselves and witness to the teachings of Christ. This can’t be accomplished without sacrifice.”
“Our missionary efforts in this community and as Orthodox Christians of Chicago did not stop when St. John left this city to go back to his homeland, nor did it stopped when he was martyred for the faith; rather, we continue to build on the foundation of our Lord’s glorious resurrection that was laid here by His holy Hieromartyr John, and we continue to built generation to generation each doing it’s part to witness to the love and glory of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
This important day concluded with a festive reception was held in the hall.