Remembering Archpriest Nicolas Boldireff

Canadian Orthodox Messenger

Remembering Archpriest Nicolas Boldireff

by Archpriest Gregory Scratch

This past week the Archpriest Nicholas Boldireff fell asleep in the Lord after a lengthy illness. Fr. Nicholas was the longtime pastor of Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church in Toronto and Holy Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles (CA); and although  I never really knew Fr. Nicholas personally well, (even though I had served with him as a young server, and deacon)  there is Nonetheless there is something very personal that I share with him. 

There is an informal tradition in the Orthodox Church that when a priest is ordained, the pectoral cross given to him, is one that has been handed down to him from another priest (sometimes this isn’t practical so a new cross is given). This was the case for me at my ordination a decade ago. The cross that Vladika Irénée put around my neck (and also my brother’s neck at his ordination) was my father’s cross, that was passed to him by the newly departed Fr. Nicholas; that was passed to Fr. Nicholas by his father (Archpriest Oleg +1997), that was passed to Fr. Oleg at his ordination (and so on). There is something quite beautiful that this same cross (a simple pewter three bar cross) has been worn by more than a few priests for over a hundred years; yet it is  more than just an heirloom passed from priest to priest. It is also a witness Apostolic tradition (the word trandition literally means passing on) and the unity of those called to  “be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12) in service to the Body of Christ as priests (in fact in the slavic tradition this scripture is written on the back of some pectoral crosses). 

It is a kind of inheritance that I consider every time I put on this particular cross (which came back to me when my brother received my father’s gold cross), as it speaks to something greater than just being a special heirloom. It is a witness of the responsibility that is given to priests at their ordination (in general), and my father, Fr. Nicholas and his father (in specific); and their voluntary struggles as His servants which manifested that the Lord’s “strength is made perfect in weakness” and  “that the power of Christ” not only rested upon them, but was also displayed (around their necks) for the world around them. (2 Cor. 12:9). Indeed this inheritance conveys something more than just an spiritual significance, but rather something that is very tangible and real; and thus profoundly personal – As real as the simple worn out and crudely mended cross that I wear on special occasions; and as real as that same cross which was Fr. Nicholas’ (and my father’s and his father’s etc.) personal and spiritual inheritance when he (and they) were called to serve the Lord as His priest. 

Ultimately this particular cross (and all crosses whether they were passed down or were brand new) express that the“message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18). This is a constant source of inspiration for me, as it was for  Fr. Nicholas and those who preceded him. Although I might not have known Fr. Nicholas as much as I would have wanted to; the love of God who by The Cross drew all peoples to Himself (Jn. 12:32), has also drawn me to know him through his priesthood, in ways more personal than words can convey. 

Truly may his memory be eternal, and the Lord grant him the Kingdom of Heaven.
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen! Христос воскресе! Воистину воскресе!