IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT.
On October 7, 1925 (o.s.) his Grace Jonah, Bishop of Hankow, reposed in Manchuria. His God pleasing life, from which flowed good works and unceasing struggle of asceticism, and his blessed repose, had an indelible impact on his contemporaries.
All-encompassing and holy was the three year rule of this God-pleaser, who was only thirty-seven years old when he reposed in the Lord.
A total orphan from an early age, living in poverty, he learned the language of the Old Testament. He became an excellent student and completed both the Kazan Seminary and Theological Academy. During the third year of study at the Academy he was tonsured a monk. On completing his education he accepted the post of professor of New Testament Studies. This was contrary to his will and characteristic humility, an act of obedience to his elder of the Optina Monastery, who kept him in strict submission.
This path of academics, liturgical service and preaching was laid out for Hieromonk Jonah at the beginning of the Great War in 1914. The frightening year of 1917 followed soon after. The next year the pastor- ascetic was banned from Kazan, was arrested in Perm and beaten severely by the bolsheviks, to the point of loss of consciousness.
Thus, sharing the fate of the New Confessors of Russia, by God's providence Hieromonk Jonah was freed by the White Army, which was situated beyond the Ural Mountains. Having been quickly raised to the rank of igumen, he was assigned as the senior priest of the southern volunteer troops. With the army of Ataman Dutov, Fr. Jonah withdrew to the borders of Western China, being subjected to all kinds of hardships while crossing the Pamir cliffs, often forced to grab on to jagged ledges and the sparse shrubbery of the ice covered cliffs with wounded hands.
The Lord preserved Father Jonah, as he himself related, for his later service as a bishop.
Bishop Jonah's three year term was so adherent to Christ's commandrnent to be merciful, that it would take any other honest laborer several decades to accomplish what he did. The breadth and power of this service was remembered in Manchuria not only by the Orthodox, but likewise by those who were not Christians. This was summarized so well by His Eminence Meletius of the region beyond Baikal, who, on describ ing the activity of Bishop Jonah stated that he indeed fulfilled the greatest commandment of Christ: he fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, took in strangers, clothed the needy and visited the sick..
The fulfillment of this commandment was the content of his whole life, having been prepared for it by his life's struggles, it was that good deed which every bishop is called to fulfill.
It blossomed in Manchuria through his constant concern for the children, for whom he built an orphanage. Despite this he found time and strength for adults as well and for everyone, his own Russian people and for any person he encountered. Thus, his death was mourned by every one.
Only for himself was there no time. Therefore, when the frequently arising illness of tonsillitis was rampant, Hierarch Jonah, continuing to care for all but himself, used the seemingly quick and harmless remedy of gargling his throat with kerosene. This resulted in a blood infection.
When it became apparent that his repose was imminent, the reverent witness of his final hours, Archbishop Methodius, described how strictly and calmly the hierarch began to prepare for his passing into eternity. He partook of Holy Confession and Holy Communion, typed his last will and testament, thousands of copies of which were distributed the day of his burial and whispered his final requests with his aching throat. His wish was to go to church, but he was dissuaded from this by his close ones. Submitting to their will, he lay down and gave up his soul while Archbishop Methodius read the canon at the departure of the soul from the body.
It is widely known of the thousands present at the funeral, of the great lamentation of all present, of the death of one fervent admirer of the bishop. A miracle took place on the very day of the funeral. A ten year old boy who suffered greatly from pain in the knees saw the hierarch in a dream. The bishop said to him that he would take his legs now, and the boy was healed.
For more than sixty years Church consciousness has venerated Hierarch Jonah as a God-pleaser who has acquired the Grace of prayerful intercession for those who call upon his name.
With the blessing of the Archpastoral Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, a group of emigrants from Manchuria went to China to seek and retrieve the remains of the reposed bishop who was buried near his church in 1925. They discovered that the church had been destroyed by explosives and the graves emptied. Permission was granted for excavations to be made. The ground was lifted, but nothing was found. Yet the unfading memory of the life, podvig and death of Bishop Jonah remain.
In conjunction with the voice of the far-Eastern bishops, the contemporaries of Bishop Jonah, and likewise their pastors and flock, and respecting the work in both the field of education and charity of this bishop of God who burned and shone with mercy, remembering his confession of faith and the miracle which occurred at his burial, the Synod of Bishops, by the decree of the recently completed session of the Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, determines that Bishop Jonah of Manchuria be considered a God-pleaser among the Saints which have shone forth from the Russian land, and to establish the day of his memory to be the 7th of October (o. s.), the day of his repose. This year on this date we shall perform his glorification, and assign the preparation of this feast and the notification of this event to His Grace Antony, Archbishop of Western America and San Francisco, and to Kyrill, Bishop of Seattle.
We ask that all give thanks to God, Who is wondrous in His saints, and commit all to the prayers of the newly-glorified Bishop Jonah. Amen.
The chairman of the Council of Bishops and Synod of Bishops
Members of the Council of Bishops:
August 31/September 13, 1996