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St. Innocent of Irkutsk Orthodox Church is a small, English-speaking, multi-ethnic and multi-racial, new-calendar parish under the Patriarchate of Moscow, comprised of families and single people, spanning 4 generations, and including many young children. It was established in 1967 in Redford Township, on the western edge of metropolitan Detroit, adjacent to Dearborn and Livonia. The parish celebrated its 35th anniversary on October 6th, 2002 (the feast day of St. Innocent of Alaska), and is looking forward to major celebrations of its 40th anniversary in 2007. The parish is pan-Orthodox with members of many different ethnic backgrounds, including Russian, Carpatho-Russian (Russyn), Ukrainian, Belarussian, Galician, Ethiopian-Eretrian, Greek, Serbian, Macedonian, Romanian, and numerous converts of various Western European and African-American backgrounds.
St. Innocent Church is under His Excellency, Bishop Mercurius (Vladyka Merkurii), whose center is at St. Nicholas Cathedral, New York City, originally built by Patriarch St. Tikhon, when he was Bishop/Archbishop of America. For more information about the historic 100-year-old cathedral and the Moscow Patriarchate in the US, see their web site: http://russianchurchusa.org.
St. Innocent Church offers a fairly full liturgical life (with the hope of expanding it more), following the Russian liturgical and musical tradition. All the Divine Services are in English (with a little Slavonic, added with love, to make our numerous new Russian and Ukrainian parishioners feel more at home), and are served in a simple, prayerful way in a spiritual atmosphere, enhanced by the presence of the 75 full-size icons of (mostly) recently glorified/ canonized saints that cover every wall, plus the iconostasis. (See more photos of the icons below.) Congregational participation is encouraged in the informal and intimate environment possible in a small parish. Are all welcome:
Recent Russian-Ukrainian-Belarus immigrants are also discovering that St. Innocent Church makes them feel welcome and at home, and they appreciate the unpretentious and prayerful atmosphere of Divine Services, the fuller liturgical life, the family atmosphere of the parish community, and the feeding of their social as well as spiritual needs. A "Law of God" (Zakon Bozhii) class is being taught in Russian most Sundays after Divine Liturgy. Previously, we had a weekly "English as a Second Language" (ESL) class, and perhaps this might be done again sometime in the future.
#10. 200th Anniversary of the Glorification of St. Innocent of Irkutsk Celebrated at St. Innocent Church, Redford, MI, 11/26/05
#9. Archpriest Roman Star Helps Coordinate a Nativity-Fast Concert Program in Metro-Detroit, Michigan, 12/3/05
#8. St. Andrew Church, E. Lansing, MI Celebrates its Patronal Feast Day, 11/29-30/05
#7. Archpriest Roman Star Attends the Celebration of the 25th Anniversary in Honor of the Consecration of His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel, 11/13/05
#6. Assistant Dean of Central States Deanery Conducts Official Visit to Michigan Parish, 11/5-6/05
#5. Central States Deanery Holds Its Semi-Annual Meeting in Redford, MI, 10/25-26/05
#4. Archpriest Roman Star Participates in the 75th Anniversary Celebration of St. Thomas Albanian Orthodox Church (OCA), 10/15-16/05
#3. St. Innocent Church, Redford MI, Receives Completed Icon of the Mother of God, "Joy of All Who Sorrow," 7/28/05
#2. Archpriest Roman Star Hosts a Group on a History Tour of Metro-Detroit Parishes, 9/12/05
#1. Archpriest Roman Star Represents the Central States Deanery at the Official Visitation of Sitka Icon of the Mother of God in Metro-Detroit Area, 10/5/05
3. ABOUT ST. INNOCENT RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY
On November 15th, 2003, the St. Innocent of Alaska Religious (Monastic) Community, was established at the St. Xenia House, 9628 Hazelton, Redford, Michigan, 48239-1480, located 3/4 of a block from St. Innocent Church (Phone/fax: 313-535-9080). It is expected that this Religious Community will become, by God's grace, the St. Innocent Orthodox Women's Monastery. This is an urban monastic community, attached to a parish, and thus has a very different mission from rural monasteries. A major aspect of its work/obedience is the Orthodox educational ministry of St. Innocent/Firebird Videos, Audios and Books, which also is the primary means of support of the Community. Hospitality is also very important, and has been widely offered from its inception, especially for people who are alone for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Pascha, and civil holidays such as Memorial Day and the 4th of July --- especially single people, immigrant families, foreign students and their visiting relatives. Also a homeless Russian family of three lived there for 9 months. St. Xenia House will continue to provide a spiritual family and "second home" for all who wish to take advantage of this hospitality, especially for feast days and holidays --- we try to have gatherings once a month. Americans and people from any country are welcome: initially, recent Russian/Ukrainian (CIS) immigrants and students were especially attracted to the St. Xenia House, but more recently, numerous Americans, especially single converts, have become part of the community of the St. Xenia House.
In addition to Firebird Videos and hospitality, other aspects of the ministry of the St. Innocent Religious Community include:
Fax: (313) 538-8126
ST. INNOCENT RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY
Phone & Fax: (313) 535-9080
Friday Evening: 6:00 PM AKATHIST to the Icon of the Mother of God Queen of All, or the Mother of God Joy of All Who Sorrow, or the Mother of God of the Inexhaustible Cup, & Anointing with Holy Oil (re: Healing Ministry and these Icons, see #5. below)
Saturday Evening: 6:00 PM VESPERS or VIGIL (Vespers & Matins) (followed by Confessions)
6. HEALING MINISTRY
In the Fall of 2003 Fr. Roman commissioned two panel icons copies of miraculous icons noted for many healings: the Mother of God "Queen of All," Healer of Cancer and other infirmities (icon to the left), and the Mother of God "of the Inexhaustible Cup," Healer of alcoholism, drug-addiction and other addictions and mental problems, (icon to the right). In late 2004 Fr. Roman commissioned a third panel icon, the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" (icon below on the left). Numerous healings have been recorded for those who have prayed to the Mother of God with great faith before the originals of these three icons (in Russia) — either for themselves or for loved ones. These three new icons were painted by a nun at Holy Dormition Monastery in Rives Junction, Michigan.
The icon of the Mother of God "Queen of All," was received in November 2003, and the St. Innocent Healing Ministry was immediately inaugurated by serving the Akathist to this icon every Friday at 6:00 PM, followed by anointing with holy oil. The second icon, the Mother of God "of the Inexhaustible Cup," was received in December, and the Akathist to this icon began in February 2004. The third icon, the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow," was received In July 2005, and in August 2005 we started serving the Akathist to this icon (icon to the left). All three of these Akathist Services are very beautiful and moving. They are served by alternating between the priest chanting and everyone present singing; (service booklets are available for all). Almost every Friday at 6:00 PM the Akathist to one of these three icons is served, and is always followed by anointing with holy oil. Most of the time we alternate between the "Queen of All" Akathist, praying on behalf of people with cancer, and "Joy of All Who Sorrow" Akathist, praying on behalf of anyone who has any type of problem or sorrow whatsoever (which covers just about everyone), and especially at times of major tragedies. These sung and chanted Akathists are very beautiful and inspiring Services, about 45 minutes in length, to which anyone in need of healing, who is sorrowing, or who wishes to pray to the Mother of God for the healing of a loved one, is invited. You do not need to be Orthodox: everyone, of any religion, is welcome.
Father Roman has been the pastor of St. Innocent Church since May of 1984. Between August 2002 and October 2003, he had also been given the responsibility of being the pastor of St. Andrew's Church in East Lansing, and between June and December 2003, he also was the pastor of St. Elias Church in Battle Creek. In June 2004 he was once again assigned as Acting Pastor of St. Elias Church, a responsibility that he continued to hold until October 2005. Since Battle Creek is about 120 miles away, thankfully a full-time pastor moved to Battle Creek with his wife and son in August 2005.
In October 2004 Father Roman was officially made the Assistant Dean of the Central States Deanery. Due to the advancing age and deteriorating health of the Dean, in effect Fr. Roman is the Acting Dean, in charge (in conjunction with the Dean) of supervising all the parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in Michigan (5 parishes), Illinois (1), Ohio (1), Alabama (1), plus a chapel in western Pennsylvania.
Father Roman's theological studies were at St. Vladimir's Seminary in Crestwood, New York. He also holds a degree in sociology, magna cum laude (with highest honors), from Bloomfield College, Bloomfield, New Jersey.
He and his wife, Matushka Rose Marie, live in the priest's house (on the right in the photo) that is attached to the church (on the left in the photo). They have two adult children, Elizabeth Star and Gregory Star, and two grandchildren, Caitlin and Zachary Minnick.
In addition to his dedicated pastoral care of his flock and others who come to him, celebrating the Divine Services, and fulfilling his duties as Assistant Dean of the Central States Deanery, Father Roman is also very committed to Orthodox unity, Orthodox education, Orthodox missionary work, charitable works, and Orthodox monasticism.
The primary focus of the activities/ programs at St. Innocent Church is Divine Worship. Since to know God is to worship Him, the liturgical life of worship and prayer celebrating the liturgical cycle as fully as is possible is the central activity at St. Innocent. The parish seeks to grow, and desires new members who yearn to worship God in the fullness of the Orthodox Tradition, including attending the full cycle of Divine Services. Also desired are new members and non-Orthodox inquirers, who are eager to learn about the Orthodox Faith and participate in educational programs. Classes or private instruction are available to all who are interested, including special instruction for children in families who may wish to become Orthodox.
In addition to the regular weekly Sunday School for young children, St. Innocent Church also conducts Family Education Class for adults and teens as needed, and conducts special Reader's Instruction for those interested in serving Christ's Holy Church as a Reader.
Other parish activities are interrelated with the work and commitments of the pastor, Father Roman, as mentioned in the previous section. Parish activities also involve parishioners participating in activities outside the parish, but on behalf of the parish, including participating in: COCC Inter-Orthodox Choir activities; the Annual COCC Inter-Orthodox Lenten Vespers series; Services, activities and educational programs at, and in conjunction with, sister Orthodox churches and monasteries; activities and programs of the Orthodox Christian Women of Michigan (OCW), which was founded by a St. Innocent parishioner, and whose founding meetings were held at St. Innocent in February 1993. In addition, choir singers had been responsible for singing Divine Liturgy at nursing homes; parishioners visited residents weekly in nursing/assisted living homes and organized holiday parties on Christmas, Western Easter and Pascha and the Fourth of July; a group of parishioners had gone weekly to a nursing home to host bingo or other activities for the residents, as part of the parish's ministry to the elderly in nursing homes; visiting and doing shopping for home-bound parishioners; and the parish children periodically visit the elderly in a nursing home. The parish also has periodic drives for food and clothing for the needy. Under Fr. Roman's leadership, in the Spring of 2005 the St. Innocent Youth Group started what will be an always continuing project of collecting empty refundable bottles and cans and sending the refunded money to the St. Innocent Orthodox Orphanage for Boys in Mexico. In about 10 months the children have sent over $200 to the Orphanage as of March 2006. The children also periodically visit the residents in a nursing home.
Through the work of ST. INNOCENT & FIREBIRD Videos, Audios & Books, this small parish, dedicated to St. Innocent of Irkutsk, reaches out and touches people all over the country and the world, contributing to educating people about the Orthodox Faith, and ministering to people's spiritual needs, by creating and distributing videos of Divine Services and audio recordings of prayers, plus some books.
One of the truly special things about St. Innocent's Church is that it is a small jewel: although the architectural plan is simple, and it is plain on the outside, the interior is magnificent! Seventy-five life-size, full-length icons of (primarily) recently canonized/glorified saints cover every wall of the temple (nave, sanctuary, narthex/vestibule and vestry/sacristy), and contribute enormously to creating a very spiritual environment for prayer and worship. Because the saints literally surround the worshipper, they graphically convey the reality that in Divine Worship, we are very literally elevated to the heavenly realm, where we "represent the cherubim" who constantly sing the Lord's praises around His throne. During Divine Services at St. Innocent, (regardless of how many people are present), the church is always full with the presence of these saints, and the earthly voices of those who pray, worship, sing and chant rise to the Lord's throne, magnified and beautified by the voices of all these saints who join in singing and worshipping the Lord.
The magnificent series of icons of 75 saints (plus 15 other icons) is entirely the project of St. Innocent's priest, Father Roman Star. After doing considerable research, he personally chose which saints would be portrayed on each wall. The iconographic program is unique --- there is nothing like it anywhere else: it includes 12 American saints, plus women and men saints of many different countries, including 7 African saints, (reflecting the multi-ethnic character of the parish and of Orthodoxy in America), most of whom have been recently glorified/canonized, and some older national patron saints. Fr. Roman especially researches the lives of very recently canonized saints, to help people realize that everyone is called to be holy, and that many saints have lived in our own times, some of whom have reposed only a few decades ago. (Click on any saint whose name has a hyperlink to go to a page about the life of that saint. These saints' lives are Firebird's own productions and are also contained in the section called "Saints Lives.")
It was Fr. Roman who directed that the ST. INNOCENT/ FIREBIRD book, Recently Canonized Orthodox Saints: Their Lives and Icons, be written and published, with each saint's life and photos of the icons. The present 3rd edition of Volume 1 contains the lives of 37 of these saints, plus St. Innocent of Irkutsk. A Volume 2 is in the process of being written, which will include an additional 32+ lives. [Ten of these saints' lives are found in the Saints' Lives section on this web site, with their icons in color, plus many additional color photos and icons. As of March-April-May 2006, we are adding many more saints lives to this web site. When the saints names are mentioned below, if the name has a hyperlink, click on it to read the saint's life and see the icon of the saint found on the walls of St. Innocent Church.]
On the east wall behind the altar there is a large deisis, with Christ in Majesty in the center (see the photo in the above section, "Activities & Programs"), flanked on the left (from the center in the above photo), by the Mother of God, the Archangel St. Gabriel, St. Seraphim of Sarov and St. Cosmas Aitolos; and on the right (from the center in the above photo), by St. John the Forerunner (Baptist), the Archangel St. Michael, St. Sergius of Radonezh and St. Nectarios of Aegina.
On the right (south) wall of the sanctuary are Saints Sava of Serbia, Sofrony of Vraca, Joseph of Damascus, and Gorazd of Czechoslovakia (from left to right).
On the left (north) wall of the sanctuary, behind the Proskomedia table, is an icon of Christ being mourned by His Mother, flanked by the writers of the four Divine Liturgies: Saints John Chrysostom, Basil the Great, James of Jerusalem and Gregory, Pope of Rome (from left to right).
On the rear (west) wall of the nave are icons of 5 female saints (right): Saints Grand Duchess Elizabeth Romanova, Zlata/Chryse of Bulgaria, the child Irene of Lesvos, Angelina of Serbia and Juliana Lazareva (from left to right); and 5 male saints (left): Saints Alexis Toth of Wilkes Barre, Yakov (Jacob) Netsvetov of Alaska, the child Gabriel of Poland, John the Romanian and Maxym Sandovich of Galicia (from left to right).
On the north and south walls of the nave, in between the windows are icons of: Saints Xenia of St. Petersburg, John of Kronstadt, Andrei Rublev, Paisius Velichkovsky, Theophan the Recluse, Ignatius Brianchaninov, Ambrose of the Optina Monastery, Maximus the Greek, Silouan of Mt. Athos, Philothea of Athens, Akylina of Greece, Metropolitan Macarius of Moscow, Patriarch Job of Moscow, Vladimir and Olga, Constantine and Helen, and the first 6 of the American saints to be canonized/glorified: St. Herman, St. Peter the Aleut, St. Innocent of Alaska, Metropolitan of Moscow, Patriarch St. Tikhon and Juvenaly, (shown left to right in the above icon), and Nicholas Velimirovich.
In the sacristy/vestry are icons of Saints Alexander Khotovitsky, John Kochurov, Metropolitan Seraphim of St. Petersburg, Savvas the New and Justin of Chelije.(ICONS TO BE ADDED SOON)
In October 2003 eight additional saints were added on two other walls in the confessional area of the vestry-sacristy, including (from left to right in the photo to the left): St. Moses the Ethiopian; St. Luke the Physician, Bishop of Simferople in the Crimea; Hieromartyr Platon, Bishop of Banja Luka in Serbia; and Bishop St. Raphael of Brooklyn.
On the adjacent wall are four more contemporary saints (from left to right in the photo to the right): St. Mitrophan of Beijing; St. Anthimus of Chios; St. Antipas the Hesychast; and Hieromartyr George of Serbia. At that time the ceiling of the nave was also partially painted with angels in clouds.
In October 2004 the nave ceiling was completed, adding four more angels, plus a magnificent Christ Pantocrator in the center (icon to the left--- to be added soon), over the central icon tetrapod.
Also painted at this time was a wonderful large icon on the wall of the narthex/vestibule (icon to the right), opposite the doors into the temple, of three contemporary women saints who manifested their love for God by helping people in the middle of large cities: St. Mother Maria Skobtsova of Paris; Blessed Eldress St. Matrona the Blind of Moscow; and Eldress Mother Gavrilia of Athens.
In October 2005 seven additional icons were added. St. Vasily, a Polish priest and martyr is another 20th century saint who labored in America in the early twentieth century, at the time when Patriarch St. Tikhon was Bishop of America. His icon (to the left), is the twelfth American saint whose icon is at St. Innocent, and is on the inside of the door to the vestry/sacristy.
At the same time two groups of three saints were added in the narthex/vestibule. As one enters the door from the street, to the left, at the bottom of the stairs is a full size icon of three African saints (icon to the right; to be added soon): St. Mary of Egypt, St. Athanasius, and St. Maurice of the Theban Legion (martyred in Gaul). At the top of the stairs, to the right of the doors into the temple, and in front of the candle stand, is a group of three twentieth century "fools for Christ" (icon to the left; to be added soon): Blessed Maria of Divyeyevo, St. John Maximovitch, Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco, and Blessed Praskovia of Divyeyevo.
In April-May 2006 our iconographer, Fr. Theodore Jurewicz, is completing the iconographic work in the main entrance-narthex. He has added an additional three African saints, opposite the three done last October, and which flank the main entrance. This new group of three saints portray King Elesbaan of Ethiopia; the Ethiopian eunuch, chief treasurer of Queen Candace of Ethiopia, who was converted by the Deacon St. Phillip, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 7; and the Martyr Sophia of Egypt. At this same time on either side of the stairs going up from the street level to the church are six scenes of the life of our patron saint, St. Innocent of Irkutsk. These scenes are: (1) his tonsuring as a monk; (2) his consecration as a bishop; (3) his teaching the local people in the school and seminary that he established in Irkutsk; (4) his burial; (5) his wonder-working relics being removed by the communists and placed in a museum; and (6) his precious relics being returned to Irkutsk on September 2, 1990 and placed in the Bishop's Cathedral at the Znamensky Women's Monastery. (We plan to add photos soon.)
In the Fall of 2003 Fr. Roman commissioned two small panel icons copies of icons noted for many healings the Mother of God "Queen of All," Healer of Cancer and other infirmities (icon to the left), and the Mother of God "of the Inexhaustible Cup," Healer of alcoholism, drug-addiction and other addictions and mental problems (icon to the right).
In July 2005 we were elated to receive a third commissioned wonder-working icon of the Mother of God --- the "Joy of All Who Sorrow" (icon to the left). All three of these icons were written/painted by a nun at Holy Dormition Monastery in Rives Junction, Michigan. Every Friday at 6:00 PM the Akathist to one of these healing icons is served, alternating each week. (See the above section #6 about our Healing Ministry.)
In addition to the large icons of the 72 saints (plus 15 other icons) that cover all the walls and ceiling, Fr. Roman also arranged to have the same iconographer (Fr. Theodore Jurewicz of Erie, PA) paint smaller panel icons on wood of St. Innocent of Irkutsk (at the top of this page, and in the top border on every page), St. Herman of Alaska and St. Alexis of Wilkes Barre, with small, round reliquaries with particles of the saint's relics fastened at the bottom of the icons. [Click on the hyperlinks to see these icons.] Photos of these are also included in the Saints' Lives and Icons book.
In addition to these three icons with relics, we now have (or will have soon) nine additional panel icons with relics, plus two without relics. American saints: St. Innocent of Alaska, Enlightener of North America and Metropolitan of Moscow [see the icon in the above section #3], St. Raphael of Brooklyn, Patriarch St. Tikhon; Russian saints: New-Martyr Elizabeth (Romanova); St. Seraphim of Sarov; 3 newly-canonized spiritual daughters of St. Seraphim: Abbess Alexandra, Schemanun Martha and Nun Yelena, all of Diveyevo Monastery, (of which St. Seraphim was the spiritual father), New-martyr Hilarion, Bishop of Verey, and St. Innocent of Irkutsk (patron of the parish); Ukrainian saints: Chronicler Nestor and Canonarch Gerontius of the Kiev Caves; Ancient saints: Shortly we will have two other hand-painted panel icons without relics: Great Healer Panteleimon and St. Moses the Black. All of these icons are located on the window ledges in the nave, with hanging lampadas above them, readily available for veneration at each Divine Service.
There are two St. Innocents, as shown in the icon to the left. The first one is St. Innocent of Irkutsk (ear-kootsk). Most American Orthodox are not acquainted with this St. Innocent, and when they hear his name, they think it is the same person as the second St. Innocent, St. Innocent of Alaska, Metropolitan of Moscow and Apostle to America.
St. Innocent of Irkutsk (icon to the right), originally from European Russia, was the first bishop of Irkutsk, the largest city in eastern Siberia, and was a missionary to the Native people of the region. He fell asleep in the Lord in 1731, and was universally glorified as a saint in 1804. His relics remain incorrupt to this day, and countless healings have occurred by venerating his relics and through the prayers of the saint. Called the "Holy Man of Siberia," he was the patron of all the missionaries to Alaska, when it was part of Russia and called "Russian America." One of the things this first St. Innocent did was to establish a seminary/school in Irkutsk. (See the Life of St. Innocent of Irkutsk article for more information and many photos.)
St. Innocent of Alaska was born about 200 miles from Irkutsk in 1797, and he studied for 11 years at the very school that the previous Bishop Innocent of Irkutsk had established in Irkutsk. As a young man, this second St. Innocent was a married priest named Fr. John Veniaminov (ven-ya-meen-off). He moved from Irkutsk to Alaska with his family, and labored there as a missionary priest to the Native Alaskan people for 16 years. When his wife died, he became a monk and was given the monastic name of "Innocent," in honor of the saint of his Eastern Siberian homeland, St. Innocent of Irkutsk. This second "Innocent" was then consecrated Bishop of Alaska and Eastern Siberia, and he continued his missionary labors for an additional 27 years, before he was chosen Metropolitan of Moscow. He was universally glorified as a saint in 1977. As the Apostle to America and Enlightener of Siberia, this second St. Innocent continued the missionary work that the first St. Innocent had begun. (See the Life of St. Innocent of Alaska (article) on this web site for more information and many photos. Also see the 2-video set of the Life of St. Innocent of Alaska (video), and the audio-book recording of his masterpiece, Indication of the Way Into the Kingdom of Heaven.)
Our St. Innocent Church is dedicated in honor of St. Innocent of Irkutsk. St. Innocent of Alaska wasn't glorified as a saint until 1977, ten years after the founding of the parish in 1967.
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