Sunday, July 15, 2018

Who We Are – Our History


St. Basil’s was founded in March 1985 by a group of Orthodox people from several local Orthodox churches who were looking for a traditional non-ethnic place of worship. Not finding an existing parish, St. Basil’s was founded under the jurisdiction of the Greek Old Calendar Church of North America (GOC). The parish functioned under the GOC until 1992, at which time it requested a canonical release from the GOC and petitioned to be accepted into the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) under the direction of Archbishop Alypy of Chicago and Mid-America.

Not wishing to burden its members with a large debt, the parish remained in its original quarters until 2011 when we moved into our new church building. The parish strives to be a loving, worshiping community, dedicated to helping its members maintain the fullness of their Orthodox faith.

Iconostas in the new church building

St. Basil’s conducts a full cycle of liturgical services in the Russian tradition on all Sundays, Feast days, and during the period of Great Lent. Frequent confession and communion are the norm. Services are in English combined occasionally with Slavonic usage. The parish sponsors a Sunday school for the children with three instructional levels, and a program of catechetical and social activities.

We are blessed to have an ever-improving choir. A light meal and social hour are held after all Divine Liturgies; Individualized instruction is provided for those interested to learn more about the Orthodox faith.

The parish is young and vibrant, with members representing a variety of ethnic traditions. Parishioners come from all walks of life, educational levels and employment backgrounds. More than half of the members are converts from Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, about 25% are Russian emigrants, while the remainder represent other nationalities.

Most parishioners live within the St. Louis Metropolitan area, some, however, come from as far away as Columbia, and Kansas City. The parish sponsors St. Mary of Egypt, a mission outreach, in Columbia, Missouri, which serves students and faculty from the University of Missouri. St. Basil’s also serves as a parish home away from home for Orthodox students attending local area colleges and universities.

Fr. Martin Swanson, Pastor

Our priest, Father Martin, a convert to Orthodoxy, is originally from Southern California. He has lived in St. Louis for over 40 years and is the retired Provost for Health Sciences at St. Louis University. He now devotes himself full-time to his ministry, and serves as Dean Emeritus for the Diocesan Seminary, a member of the Diocesan Council for the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America of ROCOR, and as Dean for the Western region of the Diocese. Father holds a doctorate from the University of California in Social Psychiatry, and a Diploma in Theological Studies from Northwestern Pennsylvania Theological Academy. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1985, and has served as the Rector of St. Basil’s for his entire priestly career. Father is a frequent speaker at Orthodox conferences and workshops. He is married to Matushka Katherine who is an active and important part of our parish community.

The parish strives to be a full Orthodox community with the goal of assisting its members gain eternal salvation through the fullness of the Orthodox Faith. All are welcome to visit the Church, and to attend any of the services. Non-parishioners who wish to participate in the sacraments of the Church must be Orthodox Christians should be fully prepared and are asked to contact Fr. Martin before their visit. The monthly parish calendar, published on this site, provides a complete schedule of church services and activities.

Thank you for your interest in our parish. We hope that you will visit us soon and experience the joy that comes from participating in the Orthodox services held here.

Fr. Sergii Alekseev, Associate Pastor

Fr. Sergii Alekseev was born in 1971 in the town of Konakovo, Tver province, in Russia. His parents were non-believers and his father had been a Communist Party member (a party member not out of conviction but to allow him to puruse a career).

In his early 20s, Fr. Sergii was baptised in Resurrection Cathedral in Narva, Estonia, where he had been working as a janitor and later a warden’s assistant, He graduated in 1997 from Narva Teachers Training College. That same year, he met his future Matushka, Svetlana. Later they relocated to the US.

With the recommendation from Archpriest Victor Potapov of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington D.C., he entered Christ the Savior Seminary in Johnstown, PA. After completing the course of theological studies, he was ordained priest on the feast of the Ascension in 2001 by Met. Nicholas of Amisos (head of the Carpatho-Russian Diocese of the USA, an autonomous jurisdiction within the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.)

His first assignment was to a small parish in Jenners, PA, then at Hobart, Indiana and finally to his position as rector of the Presentation of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Church in Hollywood, FL. His two previous parishes were English-only communities, while the parish in Florida is comprised of people of mixed origins. Fr. Sergii has experience in serving both in English and Slavonic.

He is pictured here being awarded the gold pectoral cross by Archbishop Peter in October 2017 in recognition of his dedicated service of almost 18 years to the church during the Divine Liturgy commemorating the Protection of the Theotokos at the Diocesan Cathedral in Des Plaines, Ill. 

Fr. Sergii’s special interest is Russian Church history. His Matushka, Svetlana (Photina) is pursing a bachelor’s degree in nursing at Purdue. Fr. Sergii and Matushka Svetlana have three children: John (Ivan), Melania , and Martha.