Monday, February 25, 2008

Bishop Mitrophan of Boston

From a memoir about Bishop Mitrophan (Znsoko-Borovsky) of Boston (1909-2002), written by Archpriest Andre Papkov:
The pastoral work of the reposed bishop was unique in its comprehensiveness and clear vision of a goal. The consciousness that he was Christ's warrior, standing on God's watch in the Church Militant, never left him. When making any decision, he was always guided by his pastoral conscience and the thought of what answer he would give before his Pastor-Leader Christ.

Strict toward himself, affectionate and forgiving toward others, he was truly a good shepherd, giving his life for his sheep. He saved many from death behind the walls of the NKVD during the Soviet occupation of Byelorussia. He also saved Jews, hiding them from fascist executioners and placing himself in mortal danger. Father lived through the life of his flock, rejoicing in their joy and sorrowing in their sorrow. He knew his parishioners-his "sheep." He "called them by name," and they followed him because they "knew his voice." His treatment of the infirm was instructive. He visited the sick in the homes and in the hospital every day while he still drove a car and often even afterward. More than once I heard him say: "I have to go to such and such a place, but I cannot right now, because I have people in my parish who are seriously ill or dying." Owing to this, he never took a vacation until an assisting priest was appointed to him, and even then he would go away exceedingly rarely. His concern for the sick was particularly palpable during proskomedia. He commemorated each name with such thoroughness and love, coming to church many hours before the start of liturgy. Father Mitrophan's flock repaid him with the same love; this was especially evident during the funeral service, which parishioners from Morocco, Germany, and even Brest attended.

Aside from his work in the parish, Bishop Mitrophan was an instructor to many pastors in our Church. In memory of his older brother, Priest Martyr Arseny, Vladyka taught at the Holy Trinity Seminary for many years without remuneration. During Bishop Averky's illness, he held the position of rector. I recall that, while he was the rector, there were some positive changes in the life of the seminary. Washing machines were obtained and set up, which meant that there was no longer a need for seminarians to travel to the neighboring town. Previously, seminarians had to go through the process of requesting permission to do so from the seminary administration. At the same time, the process of receiving consent for brief departures from the seminary grounds was simplified, sparing us unnecessary complications with our inspections. Vladyka continued his tradition of visiting the sick. I remember how I was once lying sick in bed. I had a high temperature and was unable to attend class for a few days. Suddenly, the door opens. Father Mitrophan, who had arrived from New York for his lectures, enters. He moved a chair close to my bed, sat down, and spent more than an hour with me. He gave me a good deal of attention, exhibiting a genuine interest in my studies and in me personally. Such visits are never forgotten. For several years, Vladyka taught various subjects at the seminary. During my time there, he taught Apologetics and Comparative Theology. His lectures were never dry yet full of content. His formulations were accurate and precise. His comments about ecumenism stayed with me to this day: "If there is ever an ecumenical unification of churches, the resulting church will, in reality, be neither one, nor holy, nor apostolic."
Read the full memoir here. The photograph shows the future Bishop Mitrophan, then a parish priest, serving in a Displaced Person (DP) camp in Germany.

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