Holy Trinity Cathedral

Sacrament of Holy Unction for Fr. Victor Sokolov
January 9, 2005

A Retrospective by Deacon Kirill Sokolov

See also: Photographs from the Divine Liturgy and Photographs from the Service of Unction

On Sunday, June 9, 2005, the sacrament of Holy Unction was administered to Archpriest Victor Sokolov, Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral. His Grace, Bishop BENJAMIN of Berkeley presided at the service. Father Victor is suffering from an advanced case of lung cancer. Please see Father's personal announcement for more on his health.

The mystery of Holy Unction, as with the other sacraments of the Church, is a revelation of Christ's love for His creation. The service shows us that we do not act on our own from our own power. Rather, it is Christ who answers our pleas for help:

O Savior, who like incorruptible myrrh dost empty Thyself utterly in grace and purify the world, show divine mercy and bounty on the bodily wounds of him who in faith is about to receive Unction.
(Troparion on Ode 4 of the Canon)

Father Victor's brothers and sisters in Christ began gathering earlier that weekend. I cannot help thinking that the great sacrifices of time and resources expended by clergy and faithful to come and pray with Fr. Victor are an answer to the Apostle's commandment: "bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). Vigil was served at the cathedral, as usual, on Saturday evening. Archpriest Alexey Karlgut, rector of Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Endicott, NY, served the vigil service with Deacon Kirill Sokolov (St. Vladimir's Seminary). Father Alexey attended St. Vladimir's Seminary with Fr. Victor and is godfather to Masha Sokolov. At the polyeleon, His Grace Bishop Benjamin of Berkeley presided. Archpriest David Brum, Secretary to the Metropolitan, Father Victor Sokolov, Father Alexander Rentel, Father Thomas Alessandroni (Synaxis of the Theotokos Parish, San Francisco), and Father David Lowell (Associate Priest, Holy Trinity Cathedral) concelebrated. Father Alexander represented the faculty of Fr. Victor's alma mater and is the godfather of Nicholas Sokolov, Father Victor's first grandson. The Vigil service was a powerful testament to the resurrectional character of our church life. We gather every week as Church to "confess His resurrection" and this reality is proclaimed throughout the world. When we are blessed with opportunities to celebrate this together, more splendidly perhaps, we are reminded of the extraordinary power of this proclamation.

On Sunday, January 9, the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was served by His Grace, Bishop Benjamin. The following clergy concelebrated with His Grace: Archpriest David Brum, Archpriest Victor Sokolov, Archpriest John Pierce, Archpriest Alexey Karlgut, Priest Alexander Rentel, Priest Thomas Alessandroni, Priest David Lowell, Deacon Kirill Sokolov, and Deacon Brendan Doss. Father John Pierce was a classmate of Fr. Victor at St. Vladimir's Seminary and is godfather of Anna Sokolov. He is Rector of Holy Resurrection Church in Tacoma, WA. Father David Brum delivered the homily. Following the Divine Liturgy, Father David noted that His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN is "among the first" in keeping Father Victor in his holy prayers. On behalf of His Beatitude, Father David presented Father Victor with a reliquary cross. He expressed His Beatitude's wish that the Holy Relics be a reminder to Father Victor that the prayers of the saints are joined with the prayers of the faithful throughout the Orthodox Church in America.

The Service of Holy Unction began at 4:00 P.M. later on Sunday. At the outset of the service, His Grace Bishop Benjamin preached a moving and inspiring homily which may be read on this web site. Along with His Grace and Deacon Kirill the following priests served and anointed Fr. Victor: Archpriest David Brum, Archpriest Basil Rhodes (Dean of the Pacific Central Deanery), Archpriest Michael Margitich (Father Victor's father confessor), Archpriest John Pierce, Archpriest Alexey Karlgut, and Priest Alexander Rentel. The seven epistle readings were chanted by members of Father Victor's family. Nearly all Bay Area clergy of the Orthodox Church in America added their holy prayers to the celebration. Indeed, the cathedral was packed as on Pascha with faithful from the surrounding parishes and other friends of the Sokolovs. I know Father Victor was moved by the great number of people who came. As Father George Gray (rector of St. Nicholas Church in Portland, OR; godfather of Tamara Sokolov) noted, the service was "powerful, sober and paschal. A real declaration of independence from the Evil One's stranglehold on this world."

Following the sacrament, a statement written by Father Victor Sokolov was read (Father Victor cannot project his voice due to his illness). His words are printed below:

My Lord, Right Reverend Bishop Benjamin,
Reverend fathers,
Beloved in the Lord brothers and sisters,

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your prayers; I thank God for you. Please keep me and my family in your prayers. We need them. I will lean on your prayers; I will rely on them.

I would like to make it clear, what I want you to pray for:

The Lord has found me worthy of bearing this cross. Yet I know that I am not strong enough to carry this cross. Please pray that the Lord's power be made perfect in my weakness.

The Lord wants us to carry our cross and follow Him. Please pray that I do not wander astray, following my fears and desires, and that I do not lose Him from my sight -- to the end of this journey.

Finally, please pray that the Lord forgive my unworthy priesthood and allow me again to offer Him a mercy of peace, a sacrifice of praise -- to the end.

I love you. Forgive me.

A wonderful reception was held in the parish hall following the service which allowed everyone to continue the celebration of unity with Father Victor in Christ.

On Thursday, January 13, Father Victor began his chemotherapy treatment. His oncologist is hopeful that modern treatments will be effective in easing pain and slowing the growth of the cancer. Father Victor is very grateful for all of the correspondence he is receiving and wishes that he were able to respond to each letter personally. Please know that he is treasuring your expressions of love and appreciates receiving them. At this stage in his treatment, it is easier for him to receive letters or e-mail than telephone calls.

Thank you for keeping the servant of God, the Archpriest Victor, in your prayers.

Deacon Kirill Sokolov is the eldest son of Father Victor and Matushka Barbara. He serves and resides at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York with his wife, Sophia, and "the first grandson", Nicholas.

Last modified: January 15, 2005