The feast day of St Seraphim is celebrated by the entire Orthodox world. We have already grown accustomed to the breadth of this celebration in Russia, and to the global scope of this event. But there is a corner of the world where, almost unnoticeably, our father is now fervently revered. This is Boise, Idaho, in the northwest American heartland.
Fr David Moser arrived here in 1991, during the second translation of the relics of St Seraphim, with the blessing of Archbishop Alypy of Chicago (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia). He was looking for work here, because priests abroad must often take civil jobs, too. Vladya Alypy, a renowned icon painter, gave his blessing to open a missionary parish. Now Idaho is a part of the Western American Diocese of the Russian Church Abroad.
In literally a few weeks, a group of Orthodox Christians established a parish in the Russian Orthodox tradition. This group included not only Russians but dyed-in-the-wool Americans. Today St Seraphim Parish also boasts Bulgarians, Serbs, Romanians and other Orthodox Christians.
“Since we are a missionary parish,” writes Fr David in an appeal to his parishioners, “our services are performed in English. Still, we sometimes serve in Church Slavonic, recalling our bond with the Russian Church. We are in the jurisdiction of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York.”
This year, the Boise church ceremoniously celebrated the feast day of St Seraphim, the entire parish thanked their batiushka for the fact that over 20 years since its founding and the second translation of the saint’s relics, the parish not only survived, but continued to grow and is now blossoming.
Every year, more and more Americans join the life of this parish in hopes of benefiting from St Seraphim’s prayers. Protestant and Catholic churches are seeing their parishes fall apart and close. In 2011, however, the Orthodox Christians of Idaho truly experienced their “summer Pascha.”
In his sermon of August 1, Fr David reminded his American parishioners about the great commandment of Fr Seraphim to acquire the Holy Spirit.
“We spend our entire lives acquiring material things,” said the rector, “we obtain money, homes, cars, families, a reputation in society, personal property and a great deal more, we build our career. But the most important thing we must spend our time on is acquiring the grace of the Holy Spirit. Heed the words of our Batiushka Seraphim and ‘acquire the Divine Holy Spirit.’”
And thus St Seraphim the Miracle-worker of all Russia arrived in the American heartland. Great in the Lord is Seraphim, and now he is glorified by simple Americans, seeking their salvation and transforming the reality of their environment.
Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society
Nizhegorodskije eparkhial’nije vedomosti [Nizhny Novgorod Diocesan News] No. 15 (204), 2011