The touching words of the prayer of the holy elder Simeon, "Now lettest Thou Thy servant departЙ" assumed for Archbishop Paul of blessed memory a special meaning: he died during the days of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple, a day after the death of his long-time secretary and friend, Protopriest Nicholas Grant, who died on February 14th, that is, on the eve of the holiday. The parishes of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand marked these days with commemorative services for Archbishop Paul and Protopriest Nicholas. One imagines that the two had a profound spiritual connection, and that for this reason, the Lord summoned them together.
Archbishop Paul of blessed memory headed the enormous Diocese of Australia and New Zealand for 10 years. He arrived in Australia on January 17/30, 1981, and was joyfully greeted at the airport by the clergy and flock. This was his third trip to Australia.
Vladyka Paul's first visit was in 1976, when he came to Sydney to replace Archbishop Feodosii (Putilin, +1980), who went to the city of Perth for rest. His second visit was under sorrowful circumstances; Vladyka Paul went to the funeral and burial of Archbishop Feodosii.
Vladyka Paul was a remarkable person, a man of profound faith, strict, energetic, intelligent and a wonderful administrator. He was able to find and attract people, he made the clergy of the diocese younger, ordaining many young men who graduated Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY.
Under Archbishop Paul, the diocese saw an intensive effort in church-building. The Church of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God at the convent, and the residences for the nuns in Kentlyn, near Sydney, were built. In order to complete this project, Archbishop Paul created a building committee which began with very little money, but, thanks to the efforts of the faithful, the church was built in a very short period of time and now a small, comfortable church in the Pskov architectural style stands 65 km from Sydney; this is a part of Holy Russia outside her borders.
With the blessing of Archbishop Paul, a men's monastery dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Lord began construction, located in the Snowy Mountains near Bombala, New South Wales.
Under Archbishop Paul also, the construction of St John the Forerunner Church in the Australian capital was finished, as were the Church of Our Lady's Dormition in Dandenong, near Melbourne, and the Church of SS Peter and Paul in Perth.
Archbishop Paul devoted a great deal of effort to the work of Russian parish schools, himself holding the position of Director of the School of St Alexander Nevsky at the Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul in Sydney, and with his blessing, a new school building was erected on the church grounds. Archbishop Paul significantly expanded the special committee formed by his predecessor, aimed at organizing the Sydney celebrations of the 1000th anniversary of the baptism of Russia. All the celebrations were accompanied by great spiritual elevation. The main moment of the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the baptism of Russia, in the view of Archbishop Paul, was the consecration of the Church of St John the Forerunner in Canberra.
On June 8, 1991, His Eminence Archbishop Paul fell ill, and his sickness gradually worsened. The Diocese of Australia and New Zealand was orphaned. In November 1992, Vladyka left Australia and moved to Novo Diveevo Convent near New York in order to live out his days under medical attention at the convent's nursing home.
The funeral and burial of Archbishop Paul was led by Bishop Hilarion of Manhattan (now Archbishop of Sydney and the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand), along with Bishop John (Legky, +1995) of Rockland, and the clergy of the Diocese of Eastern America and New York.
With the death of Archbishop Paul, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia lost a wonderful archpastor, a man who was always even-keeled, kind, earnestly devoted to God, the Church and the suffering Russian land.
Fr Nicholas Grant was born in 1934 in Rabata, Morocco, from the venerable Somov family. His father, N.N. Somov, traveled the difficult path of an officer of the White Army: he saw Crimea, Constantinople, Czechoslovakia, France, Africa, Germany, and finally, Australia, where he lived with his son for the last 30 years of his life. In 1942, as an 8-year-old, Nicholas went to Paris alone to study at the Russian Cadet Corps. As many Russian people during the war, N.N. Somov changed his name to escape persecution by Soviet agents. Nicholas' mother, I.D. Somova, died on January 6, 1945.
Fr Nicholas served as an acolyte from his childhood days, serving in 1949 under Metropolitan Seraphim (Liade), and received his blessing to wear the vestments. In 1974, he was ordained to the deaconate, and a year later into the priesthood. In 1981, Archbishop Paul invited Fr Nicholas to become the Secretary of the Diocesan Administration. Fr Nicholas' devotion to Archbishop Paul, his love for the Church, his patience and ability to make peace with everyone helped him carry out his numerous and difficult duties. During Archbishop Paul's illness, Protopriest Nicholas exhibited a great deal of attention, sensitivity and care for his archpastor. Fr Nicholas was a trustee of the Russian Charitable Society in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta, taught the Law of God at St Alexander Nevsky Russian Parish School, helped educate children and youth as one of the spiritual fathers of the Russian Vitiaz scout groups. News of the death of Fr Nicholas deeply affected everyone. His funeral at the Sydney Cathedral was solemn and moving. Twelve priests of the diocese participated in the service, along with two protodeacons and two deacons. In his eulogy, the Dean of Victoria, Protopriest Michael Protopopov remarked upon the lofty qualities of the reposed priest, and stressed his kindness, patience and nobility of spirit.
At the beginning of the month, Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand, issued an ukase to all the clergymen of the Diocese to honor the repose of Archbishop Paul and Protopriest Nicholas by conducting commemorative services and to read sermons in their memory.
May the Lord grant eternal memory and the Kingdom of Heaven to Archbishop Paul and Protopriest Nicholas.