I just got off a Skype call with the new priest and his Matushka in Buenos Aires.
It’s actually a really depressing story. And as you know better than anyone, I’ve heard many sad stories from ROCOR clergy.
Probably the saddest thing I heard Fr Boris Gladyshev and his wife say was: “We are so happy that we always knew that things aren’t going to be perfect.”
And, boy, are they anything BUT perfect!
Fr Boris – a humble, pleasant, well-educated 29-year-old from Saratov and his charming, well-spoken Matushka Ksenia – have come to South America from Russia with Matushka’s family a few years ago.
They did not move in search of a better life. The young family did very well in Russia: they had real estate and a car, all of which they sold before they came.
The couple ended up in Argentina because they felt they were needed.
Although there are other canonical Orthodox Churches in Argentina and in Buenos Aires, Fr Boris is the only ROCOR priest who serves regularly. The other ROCOR priest in the country is very elderly and serves only occasionally in a remote city.
Knowing that there were difficulties ahead, the young couple was ready or - thought they were - for what was in store for them.
The ROCOR cathedral in Buenos Aires was anxious to get a priest, after Fr Sergio Silva (whom generous donors like you supported for two years!), left after not being able to resolve visa issues, to find work, and to support his family himself.
As you know, the economic situation in Argentina is going from bad to worse. Inflation is around 50% a month. Even when you have money, there’s little to be bought with it.
This is the situation Fr Boris and his family ended up in.
Their now family of three: Fr Boris, Matushka Ksenia, and their 2-year-old son survive on an extremely tight budget, buying only what food is on sale. Fr. Boris was getting paid $1000/month from a certain source, but it turned out to be less reliable than expected.
The family have received no salary for six months until FfA sent them a small sum to tide them over the next month. Needless to say, all their savings from the sale of their property in Russia have gone to paying rent, buying food, and other needs.
Fr Boris could easily make some kind of living, except that he’s caught in a fairly typical situation for ROCOR clergymen.
Let me explain.
The parish is anxious to keep up its traditional schedule of services: Saturday night vigils, Sunday morning Liturgies, and feast days. This comes down to roughly 15 days out of a month.
It turns out, nobody wants to hire someone with a schedule like this. Especially since recent immigrants in Argentina are expected to work 10-12 hours a day six days a week for a small salary.
Of course, you will say, the parish that does not pay its own priest to tend its own flock, could scale down on the number of services. Yet, they are reluctant to do that.
It took me some time (after I struggled with indignation), but I understand them now. At least in part. And this might be the most amazing part of the story.
Just think about it: the economic situation is deteriorating faster and faster. The parishioners are barely surviving. Some lost their livelihoods, their property, their health… Others struggle with even bigger problems.
Where do they turn to for comfort?
Our Church. There is nowhere else for them to go. What should they do if there is no church to receive them? No priest to speak words of kindness to them?
Fr Boris and his Matushka understand that. And they were able to explain it to me. I am still terribly sad that they are in such a sad situation.
They – in the midst of their struggle – were able to comfort me…
They are in it for the long haul. They are suffering, but are ready to keep going.
Are they insane? You could say so. You could also call them heroes. I know I would not be able to live like this this. Would you?
They are dying for Christ every day (I don’t have room to tell you half of what happened to them in these two years… Trust me, it’s not good. Matushka almost died once.)
They don’t have money for public transportation or – laughable thought – taxis. They are bringing up a child in circumstances many of us would find unendurable. They are far away from and can have no help from family, who are struggling themselves.
Yet they are staying. Why? Because a small group of their parishioners tell them how happy they are that they are here to serve their spiritual needs. And I admire them for it.
St Paul tells us to carry each other’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).
Please, send a gift to them today.
- $10 will allow them to buy a few simple meals for their family.
- $50 will pay for one month’s electricity.
- $700 will pay this month’s rent
But anything you give will be accepted with much gratitude and prayers at the altar.
If you make a donation now, Fr. Boris will be able to stay in Argentina and lead his parish. The parish will continue to offer comfort to its flock at a very difficult time.
You will keep this parish alive. Please give today.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart,
Yours in Christ,