Letters written by Holy Hierarch John of Shanghai and San Francisco

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From the Parish Archives

Our parishioners Lev Alexandrovitch and Elena Mikhailovna Boulavsky have given our parish part of the archives belonging to Lev Alexandrovitch’s parents, Alexander Leonidovitch (our first parish warden) and Vera Alexandrovna Boulavsky. Among these interesting documents were several personal letters written by Holy Hierarch John of Shanghai and San Francisco.

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An appeal on the fate of Russians on the Island of Tubabao, the Philippines

Below we present an appeal by the “Committee for an Appeal to the President of the United States.” Addressed to Russian society and signed by V.N. Borzov, the letter deals with the fate of Russians on the Island of Tubabao. In the upper right hand corner of the appeal, St. John made the following hand-written remarks:

“I ask everyone to respond to this appeal, and to sign the attached appeal, in order to help those in Samar. Immediately after the Feast of St. Nicholas, the lists of signatures must be returned to me for further distribution.
May Our Lord bless everyone! +John, Archbishop of Shanghai.”

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The following is the text of an undated appeal to Russian society by the “Committee to appeal to the president of the USA.” We believe that it dates from the period 1948-49:

“Dear Sirs:

The fate of Russian people cast out of China onto the Island of Tubabao, Samar, the Philippines, cannot be a matter of indifference to those of us living in America. To save themselves from Communism, Russian refugees from China put themselves under the protection of the IRO. They were transported to the little island of Tubabao, and were housed in a temporary camp, with the aim of being permanently resettled in other countries as soon as possible.

Despite all of their efforts over the past year, the International Refugee Organization has been able to resettle only about 2,000 people. The fate of 3,500 people remaining on Tubabao remains undetermined.

Great hope had been placed in proposed legislation with respect to refugees which would have afforded refugees from China a status equal to that of D.P.s (those who had been transferred from their lands to Germany were referred to as “displaced persons” – Ed.) and would have given everyone the “assurance” of entry into America without regard to the quota. To the people of ‘Samar,’ the postponement of consideration of the Bill was a great blow.

Because of the tropical climate and tropical diseases, and camp’s total lack of organization, life on the island of Tubabao is endlessly difficult, and as one cannot fully rely on the new Congress to favorably resolve the fate of the ‘Samar people,’ – the Russian Benevolent Organization of Northern California, at its meeting on November 9 of this year, decided to address a petition to the President of the United States, asking him to exercise his authority to allow the Russian refugees of Samar entry into America.

We fervently appeal to you for help in this good work, the collection of signatures. A copy of the petition and sign-up sheets for this purpose are enclosed. It is extremely important that as many signatures as possible be obtained. Everyone living in America, whether a citizen of the USA or not, may sign the petition.

Please return the sheets to the following address by December 25 of this year:

Committee for Petition to the President
376 – 20th Avenue
San Francisco 21, California

After we have collected all of the signatures, the petition will immediately be forwarded to the president of the USA.

V.N. Borzov
Committee President”

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Gift Certificate to Vladyka John

The Boulavskys were very devoted to Vladyka John, and, as the following “gift certificate” illustrates, were always ready to contribute as much as they could to him.

3 April 1950

We, Alexander Leon Boulavsky and Vera Alexander Boulavsky, wife, of 6181 Marlboro Pike, Washington, 19. D.C. are giving as a gift to Archbishop John Maximovich, Archibishop of Shanghai, the land, which belongs to us and which consists of 19 lots, numbered thirty-six (36) to fifty-four (54), both inclusive, in the Subdivision of Greater Capitol Heights (between 59th and 60th Streets, on N Street, frontage on three Streets, area 180 on 230 sq. feet) as per plat thereof duly recorded among the Land Records of Prince George’s County, Maryland, for the purpose of building Orphanage of St. Tichon Zadonsky, which is under the rule of said Archibishop John.

"We fully transmit all our rights for above mentioned land to Archibishop John Maximovich personally for the building of this charity institution."

St.Tikhon's Orphanage

Below is a letter to the Boulavskys, in which Archbishop John tells of the status of the children of St. Tikhon’s Orphanage.

Christ is Risen!

Thursday following the Sunday of St. Thomas
7 April 1950
St. George the Confessor, bishop of Mitylene

Dear Alexander Leonovitch and Vera Alexandrovna,

Last night I received your letter containing the gift certificate donating land for the Orphanage of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk.

I cannot thank you enough for your generous gift and for your desire to help the children who have found themselves in a difficult situation. Lately I have been especially concerned about them, as I received official notice from the IRO, in a … telegram from Geneva, that they plan to break up the Orphanage, and send some of the children to Western Europe, while leaving some in the Phillipines. I have already written to the administration of the IRO to advise them that I am taking steps to transfer them here, and asking that nothing regarding the Orphanage be done without my knowledge.

Now I am making inquiries as to the legal and regulatory requirements for orphanages, and how soon they can be transferred here, so that we may decide matters related to preparing [housing for them]. I will try to sort out all of the legal and other aspects of this matter.

As promised, I have enclosed a certificate stating that in the event that for whatever reason I am unable to utilize your donated property, it will revert to you. The certificate is in Russian; however, if necessary, I will prepare one in English.

May the Lord bless both of you and your son Leo who is setting out on a journey! May the Lord strengthen you to do good and to remain undisturbed by any difficulties and failures that may be encountered along the way! May the Lord grant that the children’s upbringing be under more suitable conditions, and that the property you have donated be used in such manner as is pleasing to the Lord!

With respect,
+John, Archbishop of Shanghai

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Below is a letter written by Vladyka John to the Boulavskys, explaining the subsequent fate of the children of St. Tikhon’s Orphanage.

Christ is Risen!

25 April 1950
Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark

Dear Vera Alexandrovna and Alexander Leonovich!

Thank you for your efforts on behalf of those in Samar.
-- Shiliaeff, Nina V., born 9 May, 1904.

The question of how the legislation turns out will probably be decided on Saturday. One can find out about it in the Senate in room 449. The D.P. [displaced persons] Commission will also immediately be made aware of the outcome. I will be grateful if you could find out, and apprise me of it. A petition consistent with that [legislation] will then be prepared.

The question of the Orphanage is still open, for when the law is passed and when we can begin to make arrangements it will probably be necessary to immediately designate where they are to be housed upon their transfer.

I am considering that question, for we cannot say in our appeal that construction is yet to be accomplished. Once they are here, it will be possible to talk about arrangements for the future, but for now the first question is how to bring them here. That will also depend to a great extent on the law which is to be passed.

When is your son leaving?

Invoking God’s blessings upon you!

Respectfully yours,
+ John, Archbishop of Shanghai

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Below is a letter written by Vladyka John, in which he mentions inter alia that the Orphanage of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk will be established in California. The letter was written on the letterhead of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville.

23 November, 1950
Holy Righteous St Alexander Nevsky
St. Mitrophan of Voronezh

Dear Alexander Leonovitch!

Today is the day [we celebrate] the repose of St. Alexander Nevsky. Actually, he was translated on the 15th, on the day of the Holy Apostle Philip, but as his funeral service was in progress on today’s date, he opened his hand and accepted the gramata bearing the dismissal prayer. There was great sorrow among the Russian people, especially in Vladimir, where he was buried and where this day was appointed as the day of his commemoration. After his glorification, this date became a Feast of the Russian Land, and during the reign of Peter I, a second Feast Day, August 30, was appointed to celebrate the translation of his relics to the city of the Holy Apostle Peter (Petrograd). For a long time, the former was considered to be the principal Feast Day. Thus, today is your Saint’s Day, and I invoke upon you God’s blessing.

Thank you very much for repairing the icon of St. Seraphim of Sarov. If Milena Avdalovitch should go to New York today or tomorrow, you could send it with her. If you cannot, I will let you know later when I will be in New York. Right now I am attending the Council [of Bishops] at the New Kursk-root Hermitage; on the Entry of the Most-holy Theotokos into the Temple I served in the newly consecrated Church of the Holy Trinity depicted here. Afterwards, the consecration of the Holy Myrrh [was performed].

I am sending this leaflet, which I received at that time. When I am in New York, I will send you the land document [i.e. deed]; I treasure your good intentions and thank you for them. However, the orphanage will have to be located in California.

Would you be amenable to transferring ownership of this piece of property to the Synod of Bishops? In time, we could build a place there for use during visits by the First Hierarch or his representative. If you would agree to that please let me know while I am at the Council, so that I might tell Metropolitan Anastasy; later you could present [the proposal] to him in person.

May our Lord bless you and Vera Alexandrovna.

Respectfully yours,
+John, Archbishop of Shanghai

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