On Monday May 29, 2107, the National Holiday Memorial Day, members of the Western American Diocese made an annual pilgrimage to Fort Ross State Historic Park on the shores of Central California about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco. The 100 or so pilgrims were a welcome sight this year!
The Divine Liturgy was presided by Archpriest Stefan Pavlenko of the Church of All Russian Saints in Burlingame, CA. Concelebrating with him were Archpriest George Kurtow of St. Seraphim of Sarov Church in Monterey, Archpriest Paul Volmensky of Holy Ascension Church in Sacramento, Archpriest Alexander Krassovsky of Saints Peter and Paul Church in Santa Rosa, Abbot James (Corazza) of Old Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco and priest Sergiy Korniychuk of Protection of the Holy Virgin Church in Palo Alto. The serving deacons were Father Andrei Garin of Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco and Father Uri Zharchuk of Holy Cross Orthodox Monastery in Castro Valley (OCA).
The mixed choir, conducted by Alexandra Volmensky of Holy Ascension Church in Sacramento, was comprised of singers from throughout the Bay Area.
Two parish schools from the Western American Diocese organized group trips to Fort Ross this year: the parish school from the Protection of the Holy Virgin Church in Palo Alto and the Saints Cyril and Methodius High School at Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco. Under the leadership of Ksenia Wren, teachers and parents, the high school arrived at Fort Ross the day before and organized a “living history day.” Pupils from the school played historical games, dressing up in period costumes that corresponded to various professions at Fort Ross during the years of its operation, like hunters, fishermen, sentries, etc. A talk on the history of Fort Ross was given by Zoya Gradov in the evening. Many pupils confessed their sins in the chapel Sunday evening in preparation for the Divine Liturgy the following day.
After Divine Liturgy, as is customary, there was a cross procession to the cemetery, where prayers were raised up for the repose of those who founded Fort Ross or were buried on the fort’s cemetery. Soldiers who laid down their life on the field of battle or reposed under peaceful circumstances were also commemorated.