Also see a report and photographs of the Service of Holy Unction held for Father Victor.
As many of you already know, lately I have experience some health problems. Around Thanksgiving, I began feeling pain in my left side, then shortness of breath and coughing… Eventually, a CT scan detected a lump in my left lungs, but the right is also affected. Then, through various scans and tests, the malignancy of this growth was established. The diagnose is "non-small [squamous] cell carcinoma." The cancer is in a rather advanced stage and has already metastasized into the ribs, hip, and elsewhere. Now the fight starts.
As soon as the news began to spread, I was astonished at the outpouring of loving support for me and my family. His Beatitude Metropolitan HERMAN called to express his prayerful support. My ruling hierarch, Bishop TIKHON of San Francisco offered some extremely moving expressions of his loving care and paternal concern. Bishop NIKOLAI of Sitka called to assure me of his prayers; and my good old friend, Bishop BENJAMIN of Berkeley calls often, to see how I am doing, and to offer his assistance and support. The Chancellor of the Church, Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick was among the first to call and generously offer his support, and promised to provide whatever help would be needed. My district dean, Archpriest Basil Rhodes tirelessly works the telephone and e-mail, making sure that all my brother-priests know about my struggle and pray for me. He and Bishop BENJAMIN arranged the Holy Unction service for me that will take place January 9th. And many, many other priests and parishioners have showered me with assurances of their loving, prayerful support. Frankly, I never knew how much love is there. The darker the night, the more stars shine in the sky…
Since I have breathing difficulties and have lost my voice, I cannot presently offer Divine services. The last Divine Liturgy I was granted to celebrate was on the feast day of the Glorification of St. Herman of Alaska and the day of the blessed repose of the ever-memorable Father Alexander Schmemann. Hopefully, by their prayers, God will allow me to resume serving. Meanwhile, Bishop BENJAMIN of Berkeley and Fr. David Lowell are taking care of my beloved parish, seeing that its liturgical schedule is preserved in cathedral fullness.
Just as an expectant woman constantly attends to her inner self, excitedly "listening" to the new life that is growing and maturing within her, a sick person is tempted, with anxiety and alarm, to monitor the growth and spread of illness within his body. Your love and friendship are tremendously helpful in turning attention from the last enemy -- death -- towards life. Love is life, for God is love.
Please keep my wife Barbara, our children, and me in your holy prayers.
I love you all and am grateful to God for every one of you.
In Christ the Giver of Life,
Cathedral Archpriest Victor Sokolov
Last modified: January 15, 2005