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On Behalf of All

Fr. Herman (Podmoshensky) dies

Minneapolis, June 30, 2014

This morning in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Fr. Herman (Podmoshensky), co-founder with Fr. Seraphim (Rose) and first abbot of the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina, California, reposed. Fr. Herman had suffered for at least a decade from Parkinson’s disease and diabetes, and had noticeably weakened within the past several years. He died at age eighty.

One of the most controversial figures in American Orthodoxy today, Fr. Herman was loved by many, but disregarded by others for his violation of Church canons and remaining in disobedience to his ecclesiastical superiors in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). He was defrocked by ROCOR in 1988. Fr. Herman’s missionary work continued, in fact bringing many people into the Orthodox faith.

Fr. Herman, born Gleb Dimitrievich Podmoshensky in Riga, Latvia, lost his father to the Communist camps. When the German army occupied Latvia during World War II, he fled with his mother and sister to Germany and the misery of being displaced persons. At age fourteen, he and his family went to the United States to be united with his grandmother, an accomplished ballet dancer, who had earlier immigrated to New York City. Gleb returned to the Orthodox faith of his ancestors as a young adult in America, and graduated from seminary at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York.

Having met Eugene Rosethe future Fr. Seraphimin San Francisco, the two began publishing an English language periodical called The Orthodox Word, and opened a small Orthodox bookstore near the Holy Virgin Cathedral in that city. Living under the guidance of St. John (Maximovitch) of Shanghai and San Francisco, they resolved after his repose to settle in the wilderness and live the monastic life. After searching for a suitable place, they decided to purchase a parcel of land in northern California, Shasta County. Eventually they would be tonsured monks and ordained priests of ROCOR. Fr. Seraphim reposed in 1982, and Fr. Herman took a turn for the worse not long afterward, leading the monastery brotherhood away from its canonical bishop and finally stepping down from the abbacy in 2000.

The St. Herman of Alaska Monastery now continues its monastic life under the jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The brotherhood currently numbers about twelve. A women’s monastic skete not far from the monastery was also largely his creation, as were two more communities on Spruce Island in Alaska, one for men and the other for women. All three of these communities are now also in the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Besides founding the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery and starting The Orthodox Word, which is still published by the monastery, Fr. Herman renewed the pre-revolutionary Russian language journal entitled Russky Palomnik, or “Russian Pilgrim”. The journal’s launch coincided with the perestroika era in Russia, and it was sent to that country of its origin were Orthodox literature had become scarce, enjoying there immense popularity. Possessing extensive archives of émigré literature and manuscripts, Fr. Herman continued compiling issues of the Russky Palomnik to his final days. The St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood has also published a substantial number of books using material collected by Fr. Herman, notably a series on the Optina Elders.

The venue and date of Fr. Herman’s funeral is still being decided. His wish was to be buried in the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina, California. Those who were with him in his final days ask all to pray for his soul’s repose.

01 / 07 / 2014

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The people on here who logged on to get one last pot shot at him in death are all too pathetic for words. The man is dead, it is for God to judge him. Judge not lest ye be judged. Have any of you hand wringing hypocrites every read the New Testament? It is for God to judge him now, not YOU. Let God be his judge.
Jenny Rose:
I am not sure what is more disconcerting in this comment section, the comment by "Presbytera" condemning the family and friends of survivors for expressing their hurt as a result of the sex abuse and the abuse of the power differential inherent in the Priest/Parishioner relationship (calling them bitter), or the comment by "Susannah" who warns people of speaking out against the man for the abuse they endured by reminding them of the tradition to not "speak about the sins of the newly reposed," comparing their expression of pain in their comments here to the "demons at the toll houses." These responses are unsettling, yet at the same time fascinating because it makes me want to understand how it is possible for religious people to be so devoted to their leaders that they are willing to disbelieve the honest heart-cries of the abused.
Another article (in Russian) on http://ruskline.ru/news_rl/2014/07/03/ego_yurisdikciya_missioner_milostyu_bozhiej/
Memory Eternal!
Aside from the question of this man's sexual sins and abuse of power and office, his ecclesiology was unorthodox. I remember how his "St. Herman's Calendar," after his defrocking by ROCOR, went on at great length to posit that apostolic episcopal succession wasn't the lifeline of the Church, but a mystical "passing on" of the "mantle" of ascetic "elders" from one generation to the next, outside the sacramental framework. Nothing Orthodox about that! From then on, his teachings certainly became suspect for me. Neither he nor Seraphim Rose had a normal monastic formation in a regular monastery. They simply got together and made a monastery of their own, without the benefit of being tutored in monasticism by more experienced practitioners. That path is fraught with obvious danger.
He hurt several men that I know personally. The accusations are real. The damage done is real and has been life altering for them. It is hard to hear him lauded. I realize he brought many to the church, but he abused many as well. The men I know were adults when it happened. Barely adults (late teens) but they were not minors. The shame they bare is horrible as well as feeling duped. One of them can barely stand to be in church. He goes with his wife but always stands in the back holding his youngest child. Even though they were not minors, this is still abuse. They were young and in the presence of someone telling them he was their spiritual father. It was an incredible abuse of power. And those he brought to the church eventually had to deal with a difficult transition from outside the canonical church to inside it and all the mental and emotional changes associated with that. Please be careful reading his works and know that they come from a man who was spiritually sick. And pray for mercy for his soul.
Debbie Mariano:
May God grant Father Herman rest and peace in a place of verdure with all of the saints. May the Lord have mercy on his soul.

Cappy Larson:
My heart goes out to all of those young boys and men he harmed over his long life!
Subdeacon Vladimir Lefleur:
Melanie Jula Sukoda while not for a minute disputing some of the good work Pokrov has done it's major problem is that it cannot be Accuser,Investigator,Judge Jury and executioner which seems to be what it does in Fr Hermans case.So far all that has emerged is that some people and in one case a person with a known grudge made accusations,there was never any due or proper process undertaken and certainly not a proper investigation of any sort.I say this as someone who has a reasonable amount of investigative experience.The facts as purported by Fr Herman's accusers have never been properly tested in a court of law therefore i respectfully suggest they be treated as the speculation and gossip that they appear to be. I have also read both posts the one from Pokrov which says nothing in particular apart from the fact that a person who accused Fr Herman of molestation seemed to have changed his story and that the authorities did not pursue the matter and the second article seems to make one reference which is not backed up by anything but personal opinion.
Barbara Garcia Boehland:
Praise the victims that endured the horrible life time of pain! May he roll over in his grave till kingdom come! He won't make it thru any pearly gates! The gates to hell sit open awaiting your merciless rapust!
Melanie Jula Sakoda:
My purpose in writing here is not to judge the dead, but to speak up for the living. Those Orthodox boys and young men who were victimized by a trusted clergyman suffered grievous wounds. For their brethren to choose to ignore their suffering is a betrayal much more painful than the original harm.
Fomuszka Richardovicz Rajtar:
I was so overconsumed with the Hospice Ending of my Long-Term-Companion's 4.5 year term with Lung Cancer, his death and dying, then cleaning out his apt. then depression, that I MISSED a GOLDEN opportunity to get to know Father Herman Podmoshensky in-person.

He was OH SO Loved in Minneapolis, MN! The Panikhida held for Fr. Herman @ Kozlak-Radulevich, sponsored by BOTH the Skete of the Resurrection of Christ, AND St. Ponteleimon, with ALL 4 Living Priests, and the Skete Choir w/Master John of the St. Mary's OCA Russ. Orthodox Cathedral, it was so beautiful and so amazing! I went to a real Russian Orthodox Funeral for my cousin's Grandfather in the 60's but didn't remember much from it. It was AMAZING to me to witness ALL persons Venrating Fr. Herman in His coffin, the same way that we Venerate Isus Chrystos and Bogarodzica/Theotokos. I've been blessed to become FAMILY in both of these Congregations, and in "MY," estivation, Minenapolis, PravoSlavie, SENT OFF Fr. Herman in a very BLESSED Orthodox way, to N. California, to give him the Final Blessings before going to his ultimate repose.
Memory Eternal.
The inspired work of Bl. Seraphim Rose and Fr. Herman opened up the treasure-trove of Holy Orthodoxy to thousands of people in this country and around the world, including Russia as it emerged from the terrible years of Communism. This includes also my late husband and myself, who otherwise probably would have remained on the outside, looking in, longing for English-language resources to guide us. Instead, through their work we have been blessed with Truth. Eternal rest, Memory Eternal for Fr. Herman. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us, for we are all sinners.
Natasha Androssova:
He was a predator and a dangerous man. His associations in Orthodoxy were highly questionable as well. See pokrov.org

As someone whose spiritual and close family was deeply and tragically affected by his actions and some of his followers, I am opposed to the very mention of this abusers name in public. I am appalled that this website published this piece, although i think, within the limits of your knowledge you were trying to be fair, but you failed. You see, there are many victims.

I do recognize that there are many people whose passions are stirred up and who feel differently than I do. But, I met Podmoshensky and can attest to his cult like personality attractive to the uninformed. Interesting, that all these personalities attract loyal obedience, but when it comes to their obedience to Church authority, they conveniently find a way out and are able to rationalize their actions to their own followers. Cult, plain and simple. He was a false and fallen teacher. People of balance character were and would not be attracted to such a personality. He led many people astray into the vagantist false jurisdiction of the self ordained Metropolitan Pangratios who is himself a convicted sex abuser.

Sex abuse and disobedience is the legacy he leaves behind. I feel for those that loved him, I also had respect for him a long time ago, but call a spade a spade, and to my family he has brought terror, misery and the death of faith.
There is a Russian Orthodox tradition not to talk about the sins of the newly-reposed, but to only remember the good they had done in their lives. Otherwise, we take up the job of the demons at the toll houses, who taunt and accuse people of their sins--sins of which they may have repented and been forgiven by the all-merciful God. Since these things are hidden from us, we do not place ourselves in the judgement seat.
Melanie Jula Sakoda:
The allegations that arose before Father Herman Podmoshensky's removal were not the all allegations against him.



Dr. Mary Nunchuck:
May his memory be eternal. He brought many people to our Faith.
Memory eternal, dear Father....
May our Lord Jesus Christ be with your soul, my dearest father. Please pray to God for us sinners.
Thank you for your unmeasurable love, and please forgive us...
Aaron W. Friar:
Beautiful. God bless the Russians, esp. Sretensky Monastery for publishing something official like this. I hope to blog about this passing and needed some of the bare bone facts. He has meant so much to me and many of us coming to the Orthodox Church with hardly anyone to guide us there. Memory Eternal
Paul & Maria Flanzala:
We are so very grateful for Fr. Herman leading us to Orthodoxy, tucking us under his wing,and trying to transmit it to us rebellious Americans. His love for all of us was great.
May his memory be eternal!
Memory Eternal, Dear Father Herman. May we meet in the Kingdom of Our Lord Jesus....God Bless You Father. Thank you for sharing the talents which the Lord has bestowed you with....Christ is Risen
In a blessed falling asleep, May Our Merciful God, Grant servant of God, Monk Herman Memory Eternal

Joe, who told you such things?
May God rest his soul in peace!
It was Fr. Herman who passed on the story of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco and the hurt dove that he tamed, who loved the saint so much that when he reposed the bird was inconsolable and died of grief.

Fr. Herman's special gift from God was to write and to teach. It couldn't have been better for him than to be with Fr. Seraphim Rose during the first several years of his monastic life.

May the Lord grant him rest, for He is full of compassion and boundless mercy for all of us who struggle.
Fr. Jonas:
Memory eternal fr. Jonas
Memory Eternal, Father....

"7For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

8For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

9Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

11And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

13In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away."

Hebrews , chapter 8.
Anger and hatred eats the soul of a man, may God grant you peace for bad mouthing Fr. Herman whether it be true or not. God only knows the repented heart and one of an unrepentant proud man. May we judge according to the measure we would like God to judge us. Grant O Lord, mercy and rest to Thy secant Fr. Herman!
Michael Nye:
Father Herman has always had a large place in my heart. May his soul rest in peace.
Seraphima Smalley:
My Beloved Fr. Herman,

Transmitter of Holy Orthodoxy to thousands of souls, may his memory be eternal, and may those among us who are without sin, cast the first stone. ICXC


David Smalley:
David Smalley,
Thank you for your labors for the Church. May God grant you eternal rest, and may the rest of us see the powers of darkness that attack a true laborer of Christ.
Joe, who told you such things?
Father Herman, pray for us!
Subdeacon Vladimir Lefleur:
Joe Snow the word alleged and not fact would be a wiser choice of words from one who [a]was not there and [b] should be more than aware of the political shenanigans within the ROCOR under Metropolitan Vitaly Ustinov.If he did do what was alleged may the Lord have mercy on his soul but as one who was a eyewitness to some of ROCOR's darker moments when it came to persecution of clerics who did not tow the line i have always questioned these allegations.However this is not about ROCOR but about one very hard working missionary monk.
May his Memory be Eternal
Kuksha and Isidora Winter:
Memory Eternal
My beloved Fr. Herman, may God bless your beautiful soul...
Vicki Baars :
God bless Father Herman,rest eternal...
Joe Snow:
There is no mention of the fact that he sexually molested a multitude of young men. May the Lord have mercy on his soul.
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