Metropolitan Hilarion in his residence at the Synod of Bishops
Metropolitan Hilarion

Metropolitan Hilarion: Education and Formation

An Inter­view with
His Emi­nence HILARION,
Met­ro­pol­i­tan of East­ern Amer­i­ca and New York,
First Hier­ar­ch of the Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church Out­side of Russia

Con­duct­ed by Sergei Jakubov

The inter­view below was con­duct­ed in the spring of 2010 and first pub­lished in Russ­ian in Троицкое НаследиеNo. 2 (28), Sum­mer 2010. This Eng­lish trans­la­tion was first pub­lished in Ortho­dox LifeVol. 62, Num­ber 2 • March – April 2011. We offer it in two parts, in lov­ing and prayer­ful mem­o­ry of our monas­tic broth­er, spir­i­tu­al father, arch­pas­tor, and pri­mate, who fell asleep in the Lord on May 3/16, 2022. The con­clud­ing part will be pub­lished in the com­ing days.

How and when did your acquain­tance with Holy Trin­i­ty Monastery and Sem­i­nary begin?

Metropolitan Hilarion gives a blessing while serving the Divine Liturgy
Met­ro­pol­i­tan Hilar­i­on (Kapral)

Even as a child in Cana­da, where I was born and raised, I loved the beau­ty of the divine ser­vices and the church very much, and there­fore the desire to serve God and become a priest arose ear­ly. The cler­gy that served our parish in Cana­da helped me with this deci­sion. Among them was the late Arch­bish­op Pan­telei­mon, who would come to our parish to serve as a priest. I espe­cial­ly respect­ed him. From that moment on, I began to strive whole­heart­ed­ly towards the real­iza­tion of my dream: I read Holy Scrip­ture dai­ly, col­lect­ed church peri­od­i­cals, and wrote to var­i­ous pub­lish­ers. My acquain­tances gave me church lit­er­a­ture in Eng­lish. Back then I did not yet know Russ­ian, and could only read lit­er­a­ture in Ukrain­ian and Eng­lish; I read most of all in Eng­lish. Even then I thought of where to go after fin­ish­ing sec­ondary school. It seems that this began at an ear­ly age, when I was nine or ten. By the age of thir­teen I was already absolute­ly cer­tain in my goal and thought of noth­ing but how to choose a church path and receive the priest­ly order. I then col­lect­ed infor­ma­tion about the church peri­od­i­cals that exist­ed back then, and wrote to the edi­tors to ask them to send me copies, and began to sub­scribe to sev­er­al pub­li­ca­tions. In one such paper I read of the appear­ance of a new high qual­i­ty jour­nal, The Ortho­dox Word, which Fr. Seraphim (Rose) and Fr. Her­man (Pod­moshen­sky) had begun to pub­lish. Before that I even wrote to Holy Trin­i­ty Monastery, which sent me the pub­li­ca­tion Ortho­dox Life and oth­er brochures. From this mate­r­i­al I became acquaint­ed with Holy Trin­i­ty Monastery, although I then still had lit­tle con­cep­tion of the sem­i­nary. Then in the six­ties, in an issue of The Ortho­dox Word ded­i­cat­ed to Holy Trin­i­ty Monastery, there was an announce­ment about Holy Trin­i­ty Sem­i­nary on one page. In the descrip­tion of the sem­i­nary, I liked very much that it was locat­ed with­in the walls of a monastery. The pos­si­bil­i­ty of study­ing in monas­tic sur­round­ings appealed to me very much, because I already felt an inner attrac­tion to the priest­hood specif­i­cal­ly along the monas­tic path. I was enflamed by this idea. In those years I began to com­mu­ni­cate with Vla­dy­ka Sav­va, the Bish­op of Edmon­ton, about enter­ing Holy Trin­i­ty Sem­i­nary. Final­ly, in 1967, I was able to receive a bless­ing. I sub­mit­ted a peti­tion for entrance, although slight­ly late – for which rea­son my trip to the sem­i­nary was delayed. The admit­tance of a for­eign stu­dent required a more extend­ed cor­re­spon­dence and a series of for­mal­i­ties con­nect­ed with the recep­tion of a pass­port and a stu­dent visa in the USA. As the result of his cor­re­spon­dence with Vla­dy­ka Sav­va, Arch­bish­op Averky, the rec­tor of the sem­i­nary and supe­ri­or of the monastery, blessed me to come. I was able to do this on Novem­ber 8, 1967, a lit­tle more than a month after the begin­ning of the aca­d­e­m­ic year. That year is remark­able in that, not long before my arrival, a broth­er of the monastery, Archi­man­drite Lau­rus, the future First Hier­ar­ch of the Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church Out­side of Rus­sia, was con­se­crat­ed as Bish­op of Man­hat­tan. Besides him, Bish­op Paul of Stuttgart and Bish­op Con­stan­tine of Lon­don were both con­se­crat­ed to the epis­co­pate that same year.

To what Local Church did the parish in which you grew up belong?

Metropolitan Hilarion in his residence at the Synod of Bishops
Met­ro­pol­i­tan Hilar­i­on in his res­i­dence at the Syn­od of Bishops

The Holy Trin­i­ty parish in which I was raised is locat­ed in a place called Spir­it Riv­er in the province of Alber­ta, in Cana­da. Arch­bish­op Joas­aph (Sko­ro­du­mov) of the Russ­ian Church Abroad found­ed the parish in 1930. But in those years there were very few cler­gy in Cana­da, and espe­cial­ly few who could vis­it such a desert­ed and iso­lat­ed place. Under these cir­cum­stances, priests of var­i­ous juris­dic­tions min­is­tered to the parish. There­fore, what­ev­er priest came, ser­vices were con­duct­ed under his juris­dic­tion. There were priests of the Amer­i­can Metropo­lia, the future Ortho­dox Church in Amer­i­ca. Lat­er, due to the lack of pas­tors, our parish began to be served by priests of the Moscow Patri­ar­chate, espe­cial­ly after Arch­bish­op Pan­telei­mon (Rudyk) was assigned to Cana­da, who lat­er moved from the Church Abroad to the Moscow Patri­ar­chate. He obtained the pos­si­bil­i­ty for priests from Ukraine to come for sev­er­al years to serve Cana­di­an parish­es, espe­cial­ly in the provinces of Alber­ta and Saskatchewan. Such priests came to our parish in the last years, for which rea­son the parish to this day has remained in the Cana­di­an Dio­cese of the Moscow Patriarchate.

This was a Ukrain­ian community?

Yes, it was com­posed exclu­sive­ly of Ukraini­ans, of immi­grants. Ser­vices were in Church Slavon­ic. Batiush­ka spoke and preached in Ukrain­ian. I also con­fessed in Ukrain­ian, because the priests who had come from Ukraine did not speak Eng­lish. In those years, since I had grown up in Eng­lish-speak­ing sur­round­ings, it would have been much eas­i­er to con­fess in Eng­lish, because I could not express myself ful­ly and suf­fi­cient­ly well in Ukrain­ian. Neigh­bor­ing us was also the Ukrain­ian Ortho­dox Church, which want­ed to hold divine ser­vices in Ukrain­ian. In my youth it was head­ed by Met­ro­pol­i­tan Hilar­i­on (Ogien­ko) of Win­nipeg, who had been con­se­crat­ed in War­saw by Met­ro­pol­i­tan Diony­sius for the Ukrain­ian Auto­cephalous Church. In this way, one can say that the church life of Ukraini­ans in the dias­po­ra was divid­ed into sev­er­al branch­es: besides parish­es of the Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church Abroad and the Moscow Patri­ar­chate, some Ukraini­ans were also served by auto­cephalous and Uni­ate parishes.

In those days was it pos­si­ble for you to fol­low church life in Russia?

In that peri­od I was very alarmed by the posi­tion of the Church in Rus­sia. In the first place, the entrance of the Moscow Patri­ar­chate into the World Coun­cil of Church­es seemed to me a very unde­sir­able move. It seemed to me that it served as a scan­dal for the faith­ful. I then decid­ed to learn more about the Russ­ian Church Abroad from the jour­nal The Ortho­dox Word, in which var­i­ous Ortho­dox hier­ar­chs spoke out in defense of the puri­ty of Ortho­doxy and against the Ecu­meni­cal Move­ment. Then I decid­ed that it would be safer for the spir­i­tu­al life to seek pas­toral care in the Russ­ian Church Abroad. It was then that I became acquaint­ed with Bish­op Sav­va (Sarace­vich). He was a very spir­i­tu­al per­son, from Ser­bia, where he had obtained a legal edu­ca­tion and had served as a judge. Find­ing him­self abroad, he trans­ferred to the Russ­ian Church Abroad, served for a time in South Amer­i­ca, and then was ele­vat­ed to the rank of bish­op and appoint­ed a vic­ar bish­op in Cana­da, in the city of Edmon­ton. He pro­vid­ed me with very strong spir­i­tu­al sup­port by his wise coun­sel, espe­cial­ly with regard to the monas­tic life. He blessed me to enter Holy Trin­i­ty Sem­i­nary, hop­ing that, upon com­ple­tion, I would return and help him – but every­thing turned out differently.

What were your first impres­sions of the monastery and seminary?

Metropolitan Hilarion celebrating Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Monastery on Holy Spirit Day
Met­ro­pol­i­tan Hilar­i­on cel­e­brates Divine Litur­gy with Bish­op George of May­field (left) on Holy Spir­it Day (May 24, 2010)

On the day of my arrival there was the first snow­fall of the year; it was not much, but it was unfor­get­table. The monastery impressed me by its majesty. I was sur­round­ed by remark­ably beau­ti­ful build­ings. I had nev­er pre­vi­ous­ly been in such an Ortho­dox monastery. The beau­ty of the divine ser­vices and the chant­i­ng espe­cial­ly impressed me. All this was entire­ly new to me, because in parish­es in such dis­tant and iso­lat­ed places as my native town, divine ser­vices were very sim­ple, often con­sist­ing only of the Divine Litur­gy, even with­out the All-Night Vig­il, because it was dif­fi­cult for peo­ple to come from afar. The Litur­gy would be served, and then we would talk, and some­times panikhi­das [memo­r­i­al ser­vices] would be served in the ceme­tery next to the church. Such was our church life. Here, in the monastery, the divine ser­vices were mag­nif­i­cent and majes­tic. Not know­ing any­one or any­thing con­nect­ed with the monastery or the sem­i­nary, I felt a cer­tain fear and trem­bling. It seemed to me that I could not mas­ter and grasp every­thing that await­ed me here. Every­thing that was hap­pen­ing pre­sent­ed itself to me as fan­tas­ti­cal­ly ele­vat­ed. After a few weeks I even began to be both­ered by the temp­ta­tion that it would be bet­ter for me to return to Vla­dy­ka Sav­va and be a novice under him. Imme­di­ate­ly after my arrival the whole weight of the aca­d­e­m­ic bur­den was laid on me. It seemed to me that I would nev­er learn Russian.

Before this you had no knowl­edge of Russian?

Holy Spirit Day at Holy Trinity Monastery
Met­ro­pol­i­tan Hilar­i­on serves Divine Litur­gy at Holy Trin­i­ty Monastery on Holy Spir­it Day (May 24, 2010)

I had pre­vi­ous­ly not even heard con­ver­sa­tion in Russ­ian. Except that some­times my par­ents would read some­thing aloud to one anoth­er from a Russ­ian news­pa­per. My par­ents spoke both Russ­ian and Ukrain­ian, but at home they nev­er spoke Russ­ian. Before my depar­ture for sem­i­nary, Vla­dy­ka Sav­va gave me three books in Russ­ian to read. The first book was Unseen War­fare, by St. Nicode­mus of the Holy Moun­tain. This was my first read­ing in Russ­ian. I under­stood no more than half, and there were some words I did not under­stand, but I sim­ply read on. Anoth­er book was Edi­fy­ing Instruc­tions by Abba Dorotheus.1 With every read­ing it became a bit eas­i­er; I under­stood a lit­tle more. The third book was the fifth vol­ume of St. Ignatius (Bri­an­chani­nov), On Monas­ti­cism.2 I came to sem­i­nary with this book. One could say that this was my first acquain­tance with Russian.

Study­ing in sem­i­nary with me was an Amer­i­can, Daniel Miller, who lat­er become a monk in anoth­er monastery. We both, one may say, began from zero. The oth­er sem­i­nar­i­ans in the first year were from Russ­ian fam­i­lies and under­stood the course mate­r­i­al – although per­haps not per­fect­ly. How­ev­er, it soon came about that Fr. Daniel and I began to get bet­ter grades than the oth­er stu­dents, who may have been speak­ing Russ­ian all their lives. This was much more dif­fi­cult for us, and we had to be more assid­u­ous. As a result we got bet­ter grades even in Russ­ian gram­mar. When there were temp­ta­tions I wrote to Vla­dy­ka Sav­va, ask­ing him to bless me to return, because I had decid­ed it would be dif­fi­cult for me here. To this he replied: “If you want to be a monk, then you must endure; this is obe­di­ence, you must study.” When I received this reply, I said to myself: “If this is obe­di­ence, then I must stay.” The dis­com­fort imme­di­ate­ly passed, and sub­se­quent­ly every­thing became easier.

Of course, one can under­stand some­one with no expe­ri­ence of the monas­tic life, for whom every­thing here is new. I can well under­stand how hard it is at first for an Amer­i­can who comes here and accepts Ortho­doxy. Par­tic­u­lar patience is required in order to learn an entire­ly new lan­guage in order to pen­e­trate the litur­gi­cal life, the­ol­o­gy, and so on. Although, glo­ry be to God, there is already a great deal of lit­er­a­ture in Eng­lish and there are trans­la­tions of all the litur­gi­cal texts. Hav­ing myself expe­ri­enced this dif­fi­cul­ty, I ful­ly sym­pa­thize with all new con­verts to Ortho­doxy, under­stand­ing with what labor the pre­cious trea­sury of our faith is appre­hend­ed, giv­en that it is cov­ered under the veil of an unfa­mil­iar language.

What obe­di­ences were you given?

Archimandrite Constantine (1887-1975) instructing a class  at Holy Trinity Seminary in 1969. The future Metropolitan Hilarion is seated next to the window.
Archi­man­drite Con­stan­tine (1887–1975) instruct­ing a class in 1969. The future Met­ro­pol­i­tan Hilar­i­on is seat­ed next to the window.

In the first year I was assigned as type­set­ter for our Eng­lish-lan­guage jour­nal, Ortho­dox Life. I worked at this for an entire year under the man­ag­ing edi­tor, Archi­man­drite Con­stan­tine (Zait­sev), who spoke Eng­lish. He was one of the few priests who spoke Eng­lish at that time. He spoke Eng­lish even back in St. Peters­burg, where he was born and raised in the milieu of tutors who spoke with him in Ger­man, Eng­lish, and French. He was from a wealthy fam­i­ly. I con­fessed to him, as did new con­verts need­ing pas­toral care in Eng­lish. In my sec­ond year, Hieromonk Ignaty (Trepachko), the head type­set­ter, invit­ed me to trans­fer to type­set­ting Russ­ian texts for Ortho­dox Rus­sia and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions print­ed here. My knowl­edge of the lan­guage improved sig­nif­i­cant­ly thanks to my work as a type­set­ter. The printshop became my main obe­di­ence. After class­es and lunch I would always begin type­set­ting. Back then con­di­tions were dif­fi­cult. We used a dif­fi­cult and anti­quat­ed lino­type machine from the Mer­gen­thaler Com­pa­ny. Lines were filled with heat­ed met­al, pri­mar­i­ly lead. Some­times the machine choked up and one had to clean the met­al. There were fre­quent temp­ta­tions with the machines, not like today. Some­times they start­ed on fire and splashed met­al on one’s beard and feet.

Hierodeacon Ioann (Melander)
Иеродиакон Иоанн (Миландер) (сконч. иеромонахом на Святой Горе Афон в 1989 г.).

When you go to a new place, it is always nice to meet some­one who approach­es you in a friend­ly man­ner, who smiles, or who shows you atten­tion – and then you already feel more com­fort­able. Was there such a per­son when you first came to Holy Trin­i­ty Monastery?

Yes, that is indeed very impor­tant. Such atten­tion was shown to me from the very begin­ning. A monk of Holy Trin­i­ty Monastery gave me a very warm wel­come at the bus. This was the young Hierodea­con John (Melander), a very kind and hum­ble per­son. Then a dea­con, he had a very beau­ti­ful voice.

Nikolai Nikolaevich Alexandroff (1886-1970)
Niko­lai Niko­lae­vich Alexan­droff (1886–1970), first dean of Holy Trin­i­ty Sem­i­nary, in 1968.

Then I was met by one of the stu­dents and brought to Niko­lai Niko­lae­vich Alexan­droff, our dean and the founder of the sem­i­nary. He and his assis­tant, Gleb Alek­see­vich Ben­ze­man, received me very hos­pitably. In his sem­i­nary office there always hung a uni­form of the Russ­ian Navy that had belonged to him dur­ing his ser­vice as a first-class cap­tain in the Russ­ian Empire under the Tsar. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, he died a few years lat­er. This was before Pascha, and it was decid­ed to bury him in pre­cise­ly this uniform. 

Archimandrite Joseph, co-founder of Holy Trinity Monastery, with students. 1969.
Archi­man­drite Joseph, co-founder of Holy Trin­i­ty Monastery (1896–1970), on June 13, 1969. Sec­ond from the left is the future Met­ro­pol­i­tan Hilarion.

The meet­ing with the stu­dents was very warm, and we all grad­u­al­ly became friends. I remem­ber Archi­man­drite Joseph (Kolos) very well. He was the choir con­duc­tor and taught singing, and always test­ed the voic­es of the new stu­dents, for which rea­son he was very socia­ble, but strict. Once he some­how noticed that I, while mak­ing the Sign of the Cross, “broke” the cross, that is, I bowed while cross­ing myself. On this account he called me to him and instruct­ed me that one is to bow only after one has com­plet­ed cross­ing one­self. Such cor­rec­tions are remem­bered all one’s life, for which rea­son we were very grate­ful to him, and loved him. But he did not per­mit us to do any pranks.

Hieromonk Nikodim (Zemmering), the monastery's baker.
Hieromonk Nikodim (1913–1965)

Then there was Hieromonk Ilya (Gavril­i­ak). He began his monas­tic path in St. Tikhon’s Monastery, and then he served for some time in Cana­da. I was with­out a cas­sock for about a month, and it was Fr. Ilya who sewed me my first cas­sock. Lat­er Raisa Gavri­ilov­na Zem­mer­ing, Fr. Nikodim’s moth­er, sewed my cas­socks. He baked bread and prospho­ra, and died in the bak­ery with dough on his hands. He received his name in hon­or of St. Nicode­mus the prospho­ra bak­er of the Kiev-Caves. His moth­er lived in Jor­danville; she was from Latvia, a very intel­li­gent woman who knew many peo­ple from the church cir­cles of that time, among whom was Bish­op John of Pech­er­sk and Esto­nia. She was already very elder­ly, but loved it very much when sem­i­nar­i­ans vis­it­ed her, and she would relate much about the old times and her acquain­tances. The fate of her daugh­ter, Fr. Nikodim’s sis­ter, Liud­mi­la Georgiev­na Keller, who wrote books on St. John of Riga and St. Eliz­a­beth the Grand Duchess, is inter­est­ing. Before her retire­ment she taught Russ­ian Lit­er­a­ture at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Pitts­burgh. After retire­ment she worked for a peri­od of time at Syn­od, after which she moved to Jerusalem and entered the Mount of Olives Con­vent, where she became Nun Joan­na in hon­or of St. John of Riga. Now she has already reposed. Before monas­ti­cism she had been mar­ried to Niko­lai Keller, who is buried in Jordanville.

From what you have relat­ed, can one con­clude that there was a large Russ­ian com­mu­ni­ty gath­ered around the monastery that active­ly par­tic­i­pat­ed in the life of the monastery and seminary?

Indeed, in the six­ties many White Russ­ian émi­grés were gath­ered around Jor­danville, among whom were mem­bers of the nobil­i­ty. Many sim­ple peo­ple also lived in the sur­round­ing areas, in order to be clos­er to the monastery, and they fre­quent­ly attend­ed divine ser­vices. Some lat­er moved, and many died. Life around the monastery was very inter­est­ing. In the monastery itself there were very many old monks who had begun their monas­tic strug­gle either in St. Tikhon’s Monastery in Penn­syl­va­nia or who had joined Fr. Pan­telei­mon and Fr. Joseph after the found­ing of the Jor­danville monastery in 1930. Then the broth­er­hood was increased by the new monks who came here via Ger­many from Ladomiro­vo with Bish­op Seraphim (Ivanov) in 1946. Among them was the future First Hier­ar­ch of the Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church Out­side of Rus­sia, Met­ro­pol­i­tan Lau­rus, then still a young man of eigh­teen. Many of those whom I encoun­tered are no longer with us. There­fore when I go through the ceme­tery I remem­ber old acquaintances.

Who influ­enced your spir­i­tu­al formation?

Hegumen Gury (Galasov), Holy Trinity Monastery
Igu­men Gury (c. 1909–1999)

In the first place, although for a short peri­od, it was Fr. Con­stan­tine (Zait­sev). He taught Pas­toral The­ol­o­gy and His­to­ry of Russ­ian Lit­er­a­ture in sem­i­nary. His books and arti­cles are writ­ten in a very dif­fi­cult style. This put all sem­i­nar­i­ans to the test, and his cours­es were espe­cial­ly hard for stu­dents in the begin­ning class­es. But for all this, his works were rich in remark­ably deep thought.

After Fr. Constantine’s repose, Fr. Gury (Golosov), to whom I began to go to con­fes­sion, was named spir­i­tu­al father of the monastery. Many sem­i­nar­i­ans con­fessed to Archi­man­drite Cypri­an (Pyzhov), but I feared his strict­ness. All the sem­i­nar­i­ans relat­ed that he was very strict. Fr. Gury was sim­ple, kind, and all-for­giv­ing, for which rea­son I felt peaceful.

Archimandrite Vladimir (Suhobok), Holy Trinity Monastery
Archi­man­drite Vladimir (1922–1988)

A very lumi­nous per­son was Archi­man­drite Vladimir (Sukhobok), who ran the monastery office. He was my neigh­bor on the fourth floor. I always remem­ber his kind­ness. He did not instruct by words par­tic­u­lar­ly, but by per­son­al exam­ple. Fr. Ignaty, my supe­ri­or in the printshop, was very strict, but at the same time very kind. He taught us Old Tes­ta­ment and Homiletics.

Archimandrite Sergey (Romberg), Holy Trinity Monastery
Archi­man­drite Serge (1920–1992)

I was espe­cial­ly friend­ly with Archi­man­drite Sergei (Romberg), who taught us Litur­gics. He was an expert in all details of the divine ser­vices. Besides which he loved to remem­ber the old days and to talk about books he had read. He had a very good mem­o­ry. Back in Europe he had known many rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Russ­ian emi­gra­tion, and had cor­re­spond­ed with Pro­fes­sor Ivan Alek­see­vich Gard­ner. We also baked prospho­ra with him in the bak­ery. He was the supe­ri­or of prospho­ra bak­ing. Such close com­mu­ni­ty and coöper­a­tion were very char­ac­ter­is­tic of monastery life.

Students and faculty of Holy Trinity Seminary, June 1969.
Stu­dents and fac­ul­ty of Holy Trin­i­ty Sem­i­nary, June 1969. First row, left to right: Archi­man­drite Cypri­an, Archi­man­drite Con­stan­tine, Arch­bish­op Averky, Archi­man­drite Joseph, Niko­lai Niko­lae­vich Alexandroff.

Did the stu­dents and monks feel them­selves part of one family?

Yes, one can say we were all close. And then many old monks won us over by their sim­plic­i­ty and humil­i­ty, or by some oth­er monas­tic qual­i­ty that they pos­sessed. Every­one felt this through con­tact with them. Every­one who came into con­tact with them derived some­thing valuable.

What was your rela­tion­ship with oth­er sem­i­nar­i­ans like? Have you main­tained con­tact with them now?

We were all very close friends. In the year I entered near­ly all my class­mates lived togeth­er in one room; there were eight of us. Among us, I remem­ber, was even a stu­dent from Africa, from Ugan­da; his name was John Obua­na. The num­ber of stu­dents grew, and at that time the so-called “big room” under the dor­mi­to­ry was remod­eled, which had pre­vi­ous­ly been used as a lab­o­ra­to­ry. In it Niko­lai Niko­lae­vich Alek­san­droff, who had been a physi­cist by edu­ca­tion, had demon­strat­ed sci­en­tif­ic exper­i­ments to the stu­dents. Liv­ing with so many peo­ple was not very peace­ful; it was hard to study, and hard to fall asleep. Grad­u­al­ly we dis­persed. For a peri­od of time I shared a room with a class­mate, the future Arch­priest Vic­tor Potapov, who is now rec­tor of the parish in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Every­one even­tu­al­ly got a room of his own. But, as before, every day was passed in the com­pa­ny of friends, and we were unit­ed by the divine ser­vices in church, class­es in sem­i­nary, com­mon obe­di­ences, and one shared goal: serv­ing God and the Church. To this day we main­tain friend­ly rela­tions not only with our class­mates, but also with those who stud­ied before and after us.

You already men­tioned the con­se­cra­tion of Vla­dy­ka Lau­rus. Were there oth­er oppor­tu­ni­ties in those days for close con­tact with Vladyka?

Fac­ul­ty mem­bers of Holy Trin­i­ty Sem­i­nary at Com­mence­ment, 1981. Right to left: the future Met­ro­pol­i­tan Hilar­i­on, the future Bish­op Luke (cur­rent­ly rec­tor of sem­i­nary and supe­ri­or of monastery), and the future Met­ro­pol­i­tan Lau­rus (1928–2008).

After his con­se­cra­tion, Vla­dy­ka Lau­rus, then Bish­op of Man­hat­tan and sec­re­tary of the Syn­od, moved to New York, where the res­i­dence of Met­ro­pol­i­tan Phi­laret also was. He came to Holy Trin­i­ty Monastery only once a week, to teach in the sem­i­nary. He was always accom­pa­nied by Vic­tor Lochma­tow, his first cell atten­dant and the future pro­todea­con. Vladyka’s next cell atten­dant was Pavel Andree­vich Lukianoff, the future Bish­op Peter of Cleve­land. Some­times Vla­dy­ka Lau­rus drove him­self from New York. He was very kind and friend­ly. At first he taught Patrol­o­gy, but only in the upper class­es, for which rea­son we ini­tial­ly did not have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to become close­ly acquaint­ed with him.

What mem­o­ries have you pre­served of Vla­dy­ka Averky?

Dur­ing my stu­dent years Arch­bish­op Averky was the rec­tor of the sem­i­nary and the supe­ri­or of the monastery. Vla­dy­ka Averky was filled with a great­ness that seemed unat­tain­able. A noble elder, very steady, every­thing he did seemed majes­tic; he was always dressed tidi­ly, and he did every­thing prop­er­ly. His appear­ance gave the impres­sion of a very strict per­son. How­ev­er, upon clos­er acquain­tance with him, we began to see in him a very affec­tion­ate and kind elder, very atten­tive and cour­te­ous. But at first we were all afraid of him. Lat­er he taught me New Tes­ta­ment, hav­ing him­self com­piled the text­books for the Gospels and the Epis­tles. We always went to his class­es with pleasure.

I, per­son­al­ly, got to know him only after I had fin­ished sem­i­nary, when he had, unfor­tu­nate­ly, grown ill. In 1974 he had his first stroke, and he was hos­pi­tal­ized in Uti­ca. At that time I was already a novice. We, along with the broth­er­hood, arranged a watch, so that one of us was con­stant­ly with the ail­ing Vla­dy­ka. It hap­pened that lat­er on I was with him more than any­one else and there­by became very close to him. It would hap­pen that one had to help him in var­i­ous sit­u­a­tions, to serve as an inter­preter between him and the doc­tors, to read edi­fy­ing books out loud to him.

He was in the hos­pi­tal for near­ly half a year before he was on his feet and able to walk again. Upon his return to the monastery he grad­u­al­ly began to serve. It was dur­ing this peri­od that he ton­sured me with the name Hilar­i­on. I had been Igor in hon­or of Prince Igor of Chernigov, but Vla­dy­ka Averky gave me the name Hilar­i­on in hon­or of the schema-monk of the Kiev-Caves Lavra who, in his opin­ion, was also the Met­ro­pol­i­tan of Kiev, the first Russ­ian met­ro­pol­i­tan. Schol­ar­ly opin­ion is divid­ed on this mat­ter: some see in the Kiev-Caves schema-monk and the met­ro­pol­i­tan one per­son, oth­ers con­sid­er them to be dif­fer­ent peo­ple. Already then I had a cer­tain pre­sen­ti­ment that I would receive pre­cise­ly this name. I liked it very much. I do not know how this hap­pened, but I was not sur­prised when I received it.

Archbishop Averky (1906-1976) with the future Metropolitan Hilarion, 1975.
Arch­bish­op Averky (1906–1976) with the future Met­ro­pol­i­tan Hilar­i­on and a spir­i­tu­al son, Vladimir Arkhipov. Nativ­i­ty, 1975.

Not much lat­er, in 1975, Vla­dy­ka ordained me a hierodea­con. In the begin­ning of April 1976 he reposed. Vla­dy­ka Lau­rus, then a bish­op, served the funer­al, con­cel­e­brat­ing with oth­er hier­ar­chs. After this he stayed in the monastery until Pascha. On Lazarus Sat­ur­day he ordained me a hieromonk. The night before, he came to me and said that on the next day he would ordain me. And so I became a hieromonk.

As Bish­op of Man­hat­tan, you had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work with Met­ro­pol­i­tan Phi­laret (Voz­ne­sen­sky). What impres­sion has remained with you of this pastor?

I was con­se­crat­ed on Decem­ber 10, 1984, the feast day of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Moth­er of God; I became Bish­op of Man­hat­tan on this day. It is a great mis­for­tune that the ever-mem­o­rable Met­ro­pol­i­tan Phi­laret reposed on the feast of the Archangel Michael, Novem­ber 21, the fol­low­ing year. As such, my col­lab­o­ra­tion with Vla­dy­ka did not last even a full year. But dur­ing this peri­od, liv­ing in Syn­od, I was able to observe how he prayed and served. This was a man of God, a great man of prayer, whose soul aspired to heav­en. He was espe­cial­ly dis­tin­guished for his ser­mons. He was a very gift­ed preach­er. These ser­mons were record­ed by some of his spir­i­tu­al chil­dren and lat­er pub­lished through the Com­mit­tee of Russ­ian Ortho­dox Youth by his cell atten­dant, Pro­todea­con Niki­ta Chakirov.

The con­clud­ing por­tion of this inter­view, regard­ing the con­tem­po­rary mis­sion and chal­lenges of the Russ­ian Church Abroad, will be pub­lished in the com­ing days.

At the time of this inter­view, Sergei Jakubov taught Apolo­get­ics and Com­par­a­tive The­ol­o­gy at Holy Trin­i­ty Seminary.

Pho­tographs gra­cious­ly pro­vid­ed by the Holy Trin­i­ty Sem­i­nary Archives.