June 18th 1905 was memorable for the Russin*, Serbian and Greek residents of Pueblo — for on this day, His Eminence, the Most Reverend Archbishop Tikhon arrived in their smoky and bustling little city. At around 1pm, a large and excited crowd of many Orthodox people began to gather at the railroad station to meet the Archbishop. People were glancing at their watches, telling each other that any moment now, the train carrying their beloved guest would soon arrive. The hands on the platform clock showed 1:10, the announced arrival time, but no train was in sight. The people began to crowd in under the roof of the station and looked down the empty tracks for any sign of the errant train. After a while, the people started to get worried. Obviously the train was late and they all wanted to greet him in person; but many of them had to get back to work, else they lose their jobs. There was nothing they could do… By the time the hands showed 2:40 pm, only about one quarter of the original crowd remained at the station waiting there to meet him.
Two more hours went by, and at last, the long-awaited train finally arrived and a majestic figure of the Archbishop emerged from the coach of the train. The crowd was happy that he arrived safely and in good health. After the blessing, the remaining crowd of Russins, Serbs and Greeks and the two local priests, Father V. Kalnev and Father G. Shutak escorted the Archbishop to a carriage with a team of white horses. The carriage set off to the house of Father Kalnev, rector of the Pueblo parish, where, Matushka met His Eminence with bread and salt.
Having resting a little, His Eminence went to the evening service at the church. The parishioners met him with lighted candles and the church Starosta greeted him on his arrival. The Vespers service was led by Father Kalnev. On Sunday, June 19th, Matins was served by Father G. Shutak, the priest from Denver. By the end of Matins the church was already full of people and at 10:00 am, His Eminence arrived for the Divine Liturgy. One of the Serbs, Mr. S. Radakovich, greeted His Eminence loudly, saying “Zhivio!” [Long life!]. The sermon after the Gospel was preached in Ukrainian* by Father Shutak. At the time before communion Father Kalnev spoke in vivid terms about the historical Battle of Kosovo and its significance for the Serbian people. Father V. Kalnev delivered his words in Serbian. At the end of the Liturgy, His Eminence spoke on the edifying topic, “A man's faith is seen through his deeds.” After the Liturgy, lunch was served in the parish house, attended by representatives of the Serbs, Greeks and Russins, as well as the priest of the Episcopalian church, Reverend X., who came to pay his respects to the Archbishop.
That evening at 7:00 pm, the Archbishop served Vespers together with the two priests. This auspicious day was concluded by a parish meeting of the Russins, at which various church matters were discussed, and a meeting of the Serbs, at which the Archbishop pleased the assembly by agreeing to become an honorary member of their Society.
On the next day, June 20th, His Eminence was again aboard a train continuing on his great missionary journey, this time heading toward Calhan Station, where he was to lay the cornerstone for the future church. He arrived at the small wooden station at 3:04 pm and was met there by many farmers and their “familiias” (a humorous word play on the English word “family”, which sounds like the Russian word for ‘surname’ = familiia – trans.), as well as by a crowd of Americans who came to gaze upon such a never seen before “Event.” After the blessing, (and following a traffic-jam of all sorts of wagons and carriages) the people returned to the town. At the head of the procession were two heralds mounted on horses swathed in the colors of the “Home of the Free,” followed by a carriage decorated with American flags and driven by a team of white horses. Following them was the rest of the column of gaily-decorated wagons and farmers all decked out in their Sunday best. His Eminence and Father Kalnev rode in the carriage. This festive procession reminded me of the way in which Hierarchs are typically greeted in Russia, but only in its externals, for much was lacking in the way of comfort and elegance. His Eminence, the Most Reverend Archbishop Tikhon, already exhausted and weary from his five-day cross-country journey from the East Coast was settled not in a suitable guest room but rather in the best that the farms could offer, a very old, dilapidated farm cabin that had a rather “specific” odor. Here the Archbishop stayed for two days. It is probably unnecessary to describe just how difficult it was for him, but I will only say that it was impossible for him to recover any strength or to gain sufficient rest despite the best efforts of the farmer’s wife, who fussed over her dear guest, gave him the farm’s only bed to sleep in, and fed him the next-door kitchen — where the lucky Father Kalnev and Father Shutak slept on straw laid down on the floor. During the night all they heard were the Archbishop’s deep breaths and moans coming from the room next door. Next morning, when I inspected the bed and threw back the covers, I discovered that the surface of the mattress was as rough as the Colorado mountains themselves, nothing but peaks and valleys, valleys and peaks, and I felt very sorry for the Head of our Mission, that he had to bear such a crown of thorns. Please forgive me this digression. I return now to my narrative.
When the festive procession reached its destination, the Archbishop was shown the schoolhouse, which was going to serve as the temporary chapel for the next few days. Having given some specific instructions, the Archbishop was taken to the poor, but spiritually welcoming cabin of farmer K. That evening, it pleased the Archbishop that both Vespers and Matins be served by Father G. Shutak, while Father V. Kalnev joined the farmers in singing the responses and hymns in their plaintive “Krayan” chant.
On June 21st at 10:00 am, His Eminence arrived at the schoolhouse for the Divine Liturgy. The parish representatives welcomed him in front of the school and thanked him for coming to Calhan to visit them. During the Liturgy, Father Shutak gave a sermon after the reading of the Gospel, while afterwards, His Eminence gave a sermon entirely in keeping with the celebratory occasion of their gathering.
After the Liturgy all of the parishioners and clergy went to the building site of the new church for the blessing and the laying of the cornerstone. After the blessing, Father Kalnev gave a moving sermon in the field. The farmers were deeply touched by this sermon and many of them wept out loud. Once again they witnessed the fatherly love and care given them by His Eminence and were grateful to him for giving them such a good and talented priest like Father Kalnev, who was expending so much of his efforts in helping them to return to the path of Truth. After the ceremony was concluded, we returned to the house of the same farmer K., where, thanks to the efforts and labors of Matushka Kalnev, a trapeza was served.
On June 22nd, continuing his difficult trip from the East Coast to the West, His Eminence went on to Colorado Springs, accompanied by his two traveling companion priests. From there, he departed for San Francisco.
It was difficult for us to part with our dear Hierarch, a true Archpastor. But this sad moment of farewell with our beloved guest was made easier for us Coloradans by his promise to visit us again in Denver this coming August.
May God bring our merciful pastor and father, His Eminence, Archbishop Tikhon, back to us safely and in good health!
1 Amerikanskii Pravoslavnyi Viestnik, Russian Orthodox American Messenger, Vol. IX, No. 151, 1-14 August 1905, pp. 288-291. Translation as revised by Sergei Arhipov, 6/26/2008.
2 Not “Russians.” The Russins are a people from the Carpathian Mountains who maintained their cultural, historical and spiritual identity with the Russian people, rather than with the Galician and other (mostly Uniate) western Carpatho-Ukrainians – trans.
3 Ukranian “…na malorusskom iazyke.” Literally, “small-Russian” as “Ukrainian” was only recently emerging as a separate, codified and identifiable literary language – trans.