Our friends the Russian Orthodox Archpriest Seraphim Bell and Deacon Silouan Thompson are in the Philippines, where they celebrated Divine Liturgy in a tiny thatched chapel on the jungle island of Tubabao. This was where St. John Maximovitch, leading a group of 5,500 White Russian refugees fleeing the Communist revolution in China, alighted in 1949. Archbishop John and his flock had relocated to Shanghai to escape the Bolsheviks, but the Maoists caused them to flee a second time. The flock arrived in the Philippines as refugees, and remained there for 27 months until they could be resettled in the US and elsewhere. Here’s a photo of the archbishop arriving in Tubabao. Fr. Seraphim wrote an account of his and Dn Silouan’s visit there, with photos. It’s so beautiful. They met an old lady who had met Vladyka John when he came. Excerpt:
As we walked down the old road, I reflected on the fact that the Russian Orthodox had now returned to Tubabao. It seemed fitting that the first Russian Orthodox to serve the Divine Liturgy on Tubabao since St. John himself were not in fact Russians, but rather Americans and Filipinos who had converted to the Orthodox Faith. St. John himself believed that the Russian Orthodox who had been forced to flee their homeland because of the Communist persecution, had in fact been scattered around the globe by the Hand of God’s Providence in order to plant the seeds of Orthodoxy in distant lands. Now we American and Filipino Orthodox, members of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, represent some of the fruit of that Divine scattering, and by the Providence of God, we have come to reestablish an Orthodox presence where one of God’s Saints once lived and prayed. We all hope that the chapel will one day become a place of pilgrimage for Orthodox faithful who love and venerate St. John. Holy Hierarch John, pray to God for us.
Fr. Seraphim and Dn Silouan are on their way to Nepal now, where Fr. Seraphim will remain as a full-time missionary priest. Follow their journey here.