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The Life and Service of Archbishop John (Shahovskoy)

Archbishop John (Shahovskoy): a Life of Faith and Service

John (Shahovskoy)

John (Shahovskoy), the Archbishop of San Francisco and the Western United States, emerged as a beacon of hope after the Russian Civil War. His life was a testament to resilience and faith amidst adversity. Born Prince Dimitry Shahovskoy on August 23, 1902, in Moscow, Russia, his destiny was to lead a life dedicated to serving God and the Orthodox Church.

John's early years were marked by the pursuit of knowledge in St. Petersburg, but fate intervened with the revolutions of 1917 and the subsequent civil war. Evacuated from Crimea, he found sanctuary in France before joining academia at Louvain University in Belgium. There, he studied history, political economy, and literature, honing his literary talents and immersing himself in philosophy.

Prince Shahovskoy

Prince Shahovskoy

In a transformative moment, John answered the divine call and joined the Monastery of Panteleimon on Mount Athos in 1926. Tonsured as a monk and given the name John, he continued his spiritual journey in Paris under the guidance of Metropolitan Evlogy (Georgievsky). He was ordained a priest in 1927 and set out to spread the word of divine love, establishing a publishing house and nurturing the faith of Russian refugees.

His path subsequently led him to Berlin, Germany, where he continued his mission amidst the shadows of war. As World War II raged, John stood as a pillar of strength and compassion, extending aid to forced labourers and assisting priests in the German-occupied territories as they reopened the shuttered churches. In 1946, he arrived in the United States, where he tirelessly served the Orthodox community, aiding European refugees and facilitating sponsorship for displaced persons.

On Mount Athos, before tonsure, Archbishop John is between monks Vasily Krivoshein and Sophrony Sakharov

On Mount Athos, before tonsure, Archbishop John is between monks Vasily Krivoshein and Sophrony Sakharov

John's journey took him from the streets of Brooklyn to the shores of San Francisco. He was consecrated as Bishop of Brooklyn in the American Metropolia in 1947. Serving as dean of St. Vladimir's Seminary, he shaped the hearts and minds of future generations of believers. In 1950, he became the Bishop of San Francisco and Western America. In 1961, he reached the pinnacle of his service as the Archbishop of San Francisco, guiding his diocese with wisdom and compassion for over a decade.

His mission was one of unity and collaboration on the global stage. Representing the American Metropolia on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, he laid the groundwork for the re-establishment of canonical relations between the Metropolia and the Church of Russia.

Archbishop John with Metropolitan Irenaeus and Archpriest Alexander Schmemann

Archbishop John with Metropolitan Irenaeus and Archpriest Alexander Schmemann

Even after stepping down, John's dedication to his service remained steadfast. Returning to active ministry in 1975, he selflessly served his community until his final retirement in 1979. A prolific author under the pen name of Strannik, his words continued to inspire and enlighten, guiding countless souls on their spiritual journeys.

Archbishop John passed away on May 30, 1989, leaving behind a legacy of faith and unity. His mortal remains found eternal rest at the Serbian Cemetery in San Francisco, yet his spirit lives on as a guiding light for generations to come.

March 07, 2024
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