Archpriest Victor Potapov: We Made a Solemn Promise to Pray in Front of Relics of the Kiev Caves Saints Until End of Conflict in Ukraine
The clergy and faithful of St. John the Baptist cathedral in Washington, DC decided to place the relics of the Kiev Caves Saints in the middle of the church and conduct special prayer services before them each Sunday – to ask the peace in Ukraine. Archpriest Victor Potapov, rector of the parish, said that services have been made also before the icons of the Kursk-Root Mother of God and St John of Shanghai and San Francisco,
- Dear Father, our parish undertook several unusual moves in recent weeks in order to contribute to reaching peace in Ukraine. Why did you decide to do so?
- At the beginning of the military conflict in Ukraine, we were obviously, like most people, shocked because we consider Ukrainians to be our brothers and sisters.
In situations such as these, prayer is our most effective instrument. We served a special service for peace before our copy of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, and the next time we served one before the icon of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco, who founded our parish in 1949. St John was born in the Donbas region, in the village of Adamovka. People in Eastern Ukraine know him very well, so we prayed to him that he bring peace to his homeland.
And then, the idea came to us to pray before the relics of the Kiev Cave Saints.
About two or three weeks into the war, we decided that we would put sacred relics in the middle of the church, so they are visible to everyone, and they send a strong message about the need to pray for the end of hostilities and peace. Of course, we explained to our faithful why we are doing this.
We have made a solemn promise that we will serve special prayer services every Sunday after each Divine Liturgy, the English, and Church Slavonic, to pray that the Holy Saints of the Kiev Caves Monastery intercede on behalf of Ukraine and Russia before God.
People appreciated this idea. We served the first such services a couple of weeks ago, and intend to do so into the future and until the war ends.
- How did you receive the relics of these great Russian saints in Washington?
- In 2009, my matushka Maria Potapova, our Protodeacon Leonid and I undertook a pilgrimage to Kiev, and before we left, I asked the late Metropolitan Vladimir, who was the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church at the time, to gift to our parish the relics of the Kiev Cave Saints. He responded through his secretary that they would be happy to do that, just as long as these relics are made available to all Orthodox Christians in the Greater Washington area.
We placed the relics into a beautiful reliquary, and now their presence have graced our church for more than 10 years.
- Our parish started a fundraising campaign to support refugees and other people affected by the conflict just a few days after it started. Are we successful in this effort?
- Our fundraising campaign is approaching $25,000. This money has been collected for refugees from Ukraine who found shelter in different parts of the world, as well as to people who remain in Ukraine. They will be sent to the Fund for Assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. The Fund has already collected close to $250,000. This money is being sent to Metropolitan Onufrii's fund "Peace Be Unto You" and to our Metropolitan Mark of Berlin and Germany, who is providing aid to refugees. We were able to send $68,000 already, and the rest will go in smaller portions..