"Priesthood is a vocation"

Interview with Archpriest Boris Kitsko, rector of the Church in honor of the Mother of God "Feodorovskaya" icon in Vereshchagino, February 2023.

- Father, please tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What kind of family did you grow up in? How long have you served as a priest and where?

- I myself am from Perm, from the Cossacks on my mother's side. I am married, I have seven children of my own, and we also had more than 20 adopted children in our family. I have been a priest for 32 years. I have served in different parishes, in particular in Ukraine, where I was ordained. It was in Chernigov. The thing is that many people in my family were repressed, and because of this here (in Perm) I would not have been allowed to be ordained. That is why I had to flee to Ukraine. Metropolitan Anthony (Vakarik) ordained me there secretly and then showed me to the authorities. Otherwise I would have probably ended up in a mental institution, as they practiced it at that time. I would have been injected, tied up, taken away, and then asked: "Why do you ordain fools?". Then I served in the New Rite church in Vereshchagino. Then Bishop Irinarkh (Grezin), who is now in Moscow, came to us and said that since I myself was an Old Believer and there were many Old Believers living in this area, it would be worthwhile to open a new Edinoverie parish. The parish community was gathered. The congregation at that time was not very large, so it took us 5 years to build our wooden church. Eventually we built it and since then we have been serving in it for more than 13 years. At the same time we started a female New Rite monastery in Vereshchagino. But with the arrival of Bishop Nikon (Mironov) the monastery was taken away from us, although we continued to serve in the church itself. Six sisters left the monastery with me, including one schema nun. They tried to induce us to the new rite, and then to close us down. Various measures were used: they involved the responsible representative for religious affairs from the city administration, and firefighters, who were tasked with finding violations and closing the church. But it was not possible to close the church, and the vladyka is already at rest. Now, thank God, everything is calm. We pray quietly. We baptize a lot of people. It rarely happens so that on a weekend no one is baptized. We only baptize our own parishioners, because for those whom we baptize we have to answer for.

- Can you tell us more about your parish?

- We have a small wooden church for 150 people in honor of the Feodorovskaya Icon of the Mother of God. In it there is a locally venerated copy of this icon. At the church there is a water chapel, a separate "baptistery", a library, a gatehouse and a small house (five nuns live in it). Also attached to us are the Assumption church in the village of Putino and the Presentation church in the village of Sepych (the remaining sister lives there). These churches are now being restored. In Sepych they honor the memory of the martyr priest Fr. John Boyarshinov (shot in 1918 for ringing bells). Both of these churches were repeatedly made by local bishops into New Rite churches, and then into Edinoverie churches. There are many old icons in the church, all from people. There are, of course, and newly painted icons, specially ordered for the church, but they are all made in the same Byzantine style. There are also printed images, as there is no possibility to pay for the painting of a large number of icons at once. But all the icons that there are, are painted in the same way, there are no "Italian" icons, stylistically nothing stands out. This uniformity is noticed by all the guests of our church.

- What rite do you serve? How often?

- Wherever I serve (Vereshchagino, Putino, Sepych), I serve in the old way, on holidays and weekends. I conduct services mostly alone, but sometimes the local priest Alexander helps me. The bishop does not ordain another priest for us.

- How did your parish start an orphanage? Can you tell me about it?

- My grandmother had four children of her own and ten foundlings. Since the neighborhood knew that Evdokia (that was her name) took in everyone, she was the one who received the children. Apparently, this was passed on to me from her - during the Perestroika period, when people had no work and there were abandoned children. The first girl was brought to us by her mother, who herself had been in an orphanage. We had two sisters who later became nuns, and they took care of this girl. She was only 25 days old when she was brought to us and could have died. Then there was another 7-month-old girl. Then a boy - 1 year and 4 months old. He was weak, not walking or sitting up. Then children came to us from basements, garbage dumps, train stations... When the locals found out, they started to bring them to us. For example, one day a garbage truck came to us, and the driver told us that two children were living with a homeless man in a garbage dump. Of course, I allowed him to bring these children to us. That's where we started. During the 30 years of our orphanage's existence, more than 300 children, boys and girls, came out of it. After the convent separated, the girls stayed at the convent, and the boys stayed at the church, with us. Now there are 14 of them: starting from the 3rd grade and ending with 1-2 courses of technical school. For the orphanage we have our own subsidiary farm. Cheese, butter, sour cream, eggs, chicken, pork, beef - we do not buy any of this, everything is our own. There are horses, and there were sheep. Also, in the place where we have a shelter, we created a small contact zoo for the city. There are camels, horses, ponies, llamas, foxes, raccoons, rabbits, peacocks... In general, it is a place of recreation for the citizens. And for the fact that we organized such a place, the city administration is grateful to us. Two cattlemen take care of the animals in the zoo. They also tried to close the shelter. They didn't understand, asking "why do priests need children?". They said that we were "raising monks out of children," although we never set such a goal. After all, whether a priest or a monk is a vocation. If the Lord so wills it, you will become a monk even before you die. At one time my spiritual father clearly told me: "You must make these children see a real childhood, and preserve their virginity for as long as possible". The same task was then set for the nuns and the educators. We have three educators, a cook ... There is someone to serve the children, to wash them, to feed them, to do lessons with them. Thank God, local people help.

- Can you tell us a little about the life of the children in the orphanage?

- The children study, and on Sunday they attend church. They fast to the best of their ability, take Communion, confess. The children participate in various events: on May 9, as Cossacks they stand with sabers and in black jackets at the monument, sing and perform. On Christmas we have theatrical performances in the Palace of Culture every year. The head of administration - a wonderful, Orthodox man - always buys free gifts for those who come to this holiday. That is, the children participate in the life of the city, as the city participates in their lives. The same head of the administration, for example, made us a sports ground that year.

- What do children become after they grow up?

- I try not to let my children go far away until they are firmly on their feet. Here they study to become electricians, mechanics, machine operators, construction workers. These are the basic jobs. When they reach the age of 18, they can already live somewhere in a dormitory at the technical school, but they can always come back to us and ask for help. Some of them live with us until they serve in the army, there are no draft dodgers among our students. At the moment, one of my sons and four students are involved in a special military operation in Ukraine, one of whom has become an officer of one of the special services.

- What is the relationship with the local Old Believers?

- We have four Old Believers parishes ("Belokrinitsky hierarchy") in our area. We have very good relations with the local Priestly. For example, with Fr. Valery Shabashov, who also serves in Vereshchagino. At first, however, our relations with him were not the best. But once, when I broke up a congress of local cult members, and they wanted to prosecute me, he called me and said: "Listen, if, in case you are put in the dock, I will sit next to you." At the same time, by the way, the 1st secretary of the district party committee of the city called me with the same words, which is quite unthinkable.

The Old Believers cast icons here and have their own printing house. We buy liturgical books from them. It happens that new parishioners come to us from them. They also come from the local priests: Fedoseyevites, Maximovites, Deminites. It happens that relatives of deceased Priestless come and ask: "Father, if you perform a burial service, we will come here to you, we will be praying for them. We will pray ourselves, we will join you ourselves." As my spiritual father taught me, we can perform the burial service on those who prayed to God all their lives, but lived in this delusion. I accept and perform funeral services for Old Believers on condition that their relatives will be praying for them as part of our community. After all, from the fact that I will perform a burial service on him, I will not give him a pass to the Kingdom of God. But for the sake of these people, for the sake of their kind to join, I sometimes go to such lengths.

- What are your plans for the future and what wishes do you have?

- We have a spring near the church, and we will make a water chapel over it. To tell the truth, we lack our own Edinoverie bishop. If we had a bishop, we would have our own ordinations, everything would be completely different. I think it is very important for us. Not every bishop is welcoming to us, not everyone accepts us. I would also like to see a change. We have the only Edinoverie church in the whole diocese, so if something happens to me, who will serve? They don't want to ordain a priest for our community in the old way. In the times when there were three Edinoverie parishes here and there was a bishop, apparently, it was thought that local Old Believers would come to us. But mostly the New Riters started coming back to us. Perhaps that's why they don't give it to us now. Although people from New Rite parishes still come to us, and, I believe, this does not please the newly educated abbesses and bishops. Unfortunately, nowadays we do not turn our face to St. Sergius of Radonezh but look towards Catholicism.

Sun, 04/07/2024 - 15:55
Точка зрения автора может не совпадать с мнением редакции.
Log in or register to comment.