On May 29, 2023, members of the Western American Diocese, both clergy and laity, undertook the annual pilgrimage to Fort Ross. Today it is a wonderful park under the auspices of the State of California, yet two hundred years ago, life there was in full swing with several hundred people from soldiers, to artisans, to farmers, to indigenous people both from Alaska and locals (Kashaya-Pomo Indians). The park also preserves an Orthodox cemetery. In the 1990s, archaeologists carried out excavations and identified the graves of the departed who labored at the fort in bygone years.
Now for about a hundred years (circa 1922 or 1923), Russian Orthodox Christians have been coming to Fort Ross annually, remembering their roots and praying at this holy place consecrated by the presence of Saints such as Holy Hierarch Innocent of Moscow, Holy Martyr Peter the Aleut, Hieromartyr Tikhon Patriarch of Moscow and Holy Hierarch John of Shanghai and San Francisco the Wonderworker.
With the blessing of His Eminence KIRILL the Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America, His Grace THEODOSY Bishop of Seattle, led the pilgrimage this year. Concelebrating with him were Archpriest Pavel Volmensky (Holy Ascension Church, Sacramento), Archpriest Alexander Krasovsky, (Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Santa Rosa), Archpriest Ivan Shtets (Church of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, San Francisco ), Priest Ilya Drake-Wu (All Saints Church, Lodi, California - Western Rite), Protodeacon Anton Koval (Holy Virgin Cathedral, San Francisco), and Deacon Seraphim Torruella (Holy Ascension Church, Sacramento ).
Many partook of the Holy Mysteries of Christ, including pupils of the Saints Cyril and Methodius Gymnasium at Holy Virgin Cathedral of the Most Holy Theotokos “Joy of All Who Sorrow” in San Francisco, who participated in a “living history” day at Fort Ross. The school organizers prepared a camping trip for the youth that simulated daily life there about two hundred years ago. With them were youth/pilgrims from the Church of All Saints of Russia in Denver, Colorado.