On Monday the 18th and Tuesday the 19th of June, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan traveled to Holy Trinity Church in Mebane, NC, where he led the divine services for the departed for Abbot Gabriel (Kvasnikov), who reposed unexpectedly on Thursday, June 14. On Monday evening, His Grace arrived in Mebane, accompanied by diocesan secretary Archpriest Serge Lukianov, and served a panihida in the church.
The following morning, Bishop Nicholas celebrated Divine Liturgy for the Departed, co-served by Fr. Serge, Archpriests Mark Mancuso (dean of the Carolinas & Tennessee), Alexander Logunov (rector of Reigning Mother of God Church in Charlotte, NC), Mark Mancuso (dean of Carolinas), Alexandre Antchoutine (dean of Long Island & the Hudson Valley), Alexander Stepanenko (cleric of Reigning Mother of God Church), and Serge Orzhakovsky (cleric of the Diocese of Gatchina), Hieromonk Andrew (Winters; diocesan cleric), Protodeacon Dionysius Lvov (cleric of Inexhaustible Chalice Church in Brooklyn, NY), and Deacons Andre Zavalin (cleric of St. Innocent of Moscow Mission in Nashville, TN) and Ivan Makarov (cleric of Reigning Mother of God Church).
Upon completion of Liturgy, Fr. Serge Orzhakovsky, a colleague and friend of Fr. Gabriel’s from their years serving in St. Petersburg, delivered a short eulogy, in which he said, in part:
"It is difficult to express in words what the heart is feeling and undergoing. But, in my estimation, there is one basic principle that runs the entire life’s course of our dear Fr. Gabriel. He had many positive qualities and talents, but one of the most important of these was his dedication to Christ. He did not do anything outstanding: he was not a remarkable builder, or an accomplished organizer, or an eloquent preacher. But he was – and this we know for certain – a man of the Church; he was a man of Christ. And we had the good fortune to interact with someone in whom Christ abode. He had no more powerful desire than to live with Christ. He had relatives, loved ones, even friends in Christ, parishioners, but the dearest person to him was Christ. I know this from my personal interaction with him. I know this from his confession, which I had occasion to hear, from the heartfelt talks we shared over many years of acquaintance. And today we can truly live out the words of the Apostle Paul, which he wrote to his community: ‘I wish to be separated from the body and be with Christ. But to remain in the body is more needful for you’ (Phil. 1:23-24). Fr. Gabriel remained in the body for you as long as God deemed it fit. Let us release him from this earthly vale, that our hearts might rejoice in one who will already be with Christ. He passed his examination for entry into God’s Kingdom early, and we here will prayerfully commemorate him, not doubting that he is already praying for us here on earth."
The monastic funeral rite followed after Liturgy. A combined choir of parish and visiting singers sang the services prayerfully, under the direction of Reader Andrew Semyanko.
The church filled with parishioners for the Liturgy and funeral. At the end of the funeral, Bishop Nicholas relayed the sincerest condolences of Metropolitan Hilarion, and offered a eulogy, in which he said, in part:
"We have gathered here today to bid farewell to Fr. Gabriel. For some he was a son, a brother, and uncle, a monastic brother in Christ, the rector of this holy temple, a godfather, a spiritual father, a prayerful intercessor, a good Samaritan. All of these qualities apply to our departed one. Yesterday was my first time visiting your church, and today was my first time celebrating Divine Liturgy herein, but I know your church and Fr. Gabriel very well. This is because our Metropolitan Hilarion prayed here more than once, and would – like other visitors – talk about how your parish was growing and flourishing, about how Fr. Gabriel was diligently carrying out his duties as rector of this church. Metropolitan Hilarion would visit your parish and pray here with particular joy, and upon returning to Synod, would share his thoughts with me. These were always warm words about Fr. Gabriel and all of the parishioners. And now I see your wonderful parish with my own eyes.
"Fr. Gabriel has departed from us physically, but our prayerful interaction continues. This is something special, something mystical, something beautiful. Fr. Gabriel lived for Christ, and now we can say that he prays with Christ for all of us. Neither he nor we will cease our prayers for one another. In this is the beauty of our Church and the triumph of Orthodoxy. Let us heed the words of this special funeral rite, let us pray and thank God that He gave us the opportunity to get to know our dear Fr. Gabriel. Let us remember him in our prayers, and speak of him with fond recollections: how he lived, how he prayed, how he saved people."
Upon completion of the service, Fr. Gabriel’s body was taken around the church in procession, after which he was taken by car to Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, where he will be laid to rest behind Holy Dormition Cemetery Church.
Mebane, NC: Bishop Nicholas serves Funeral of Abbot Gabriel (Kvasnikov) in Holy Trinity Church - 06/19/18
Photos: Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese - G. Konyev