The Right Reverend Nikolai, Bishop of Sitka, Anchorage and Alaska, presents Father Marcarius Targonsky with a certificate of appreciation from the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America. The certificate acknowledges the 20th anniversary of Targonsky's ordination.
Photo by McKibben Jackinsky
Amid the warm glow of flickering candles and within the walls of the 100-year-old Transfiguration of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Church in Ninilchik, Father Marcarius Targonsky celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination Monday.
The occasion was honored with a service of thanksgiving offered by the Right Reverend Nikolai, Bishop of Sitka, Anchorage and Alaska.
Assisting in the celebration were Chancellor of the Diocese of Alaska Archimandrite Isidore, Dean of the Kenai Deanery Priest Daniel, Kenai Priest Thomas and Targonsky.
In addition, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America forwarded a certificate complete with the signatures of all 12 bishops, expressing their appreciation of Targonsky's contributions.
Singing voices of multigenerational Russian Orthodox believers from Homer, Ninilchik and Kenai blended with the clergy and filled the church's icon-lined interior. Tourists gathered at the church's open doors, keeping their observations at a respectful distance.
The reverential atmosphere lightened as Bishop Nikolai of Anchorage re-viewed the highlights of Targonsky's service.
The 10th of 11 children born to Russian immigrant parents in Meridan, Conn., Targonsky attended St. Vladimir's Theological Seminary in New York City.
He was ordained in the Holy Protection of the Virgin Mary Cathedral in New York City by His Eminence, the late Metropolitan Leonty.
After serving six years in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Targonsky became rector of the Holy Resurrection Church in Kodiak and its 12 attached village chapels.
During the 12 years he and his wife, Matushka Yvette Marie, spent in Kodiak, Targonsky participated in transferring the relics of St. Herman of Alaska from Spruce Island to Kodiak.
Herman came to Alaska from Russia in 1794, died in 1836 and was canonized on Aug. 9, 1970.
"There in Kodiak were the 12 busiest years of our lives," Targonsky said.
After a five-month assignment to Buffalo, N.Y. and 10 months in Kenosha, Wis., Targonsky returned to Alaska, assigned to the Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Church in Kenai and the Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord Church in Ninilchik.
Since September 1991, following a four-year period of poor health that included a battle with cancer and five operations, Targonsky's duties have focused solely on the Ninilchik church.
But he didn't make it this far alone.
"Behind every good man, there's a good woman. She had to be a good woman to put up with you," Bishop Nikolai said on Monday, inviting Targonsky's giggling wife to join them in front of the congregation for photographs.
Born in Jerusalem, Matushka Marie came to the United States in 1947 with her Arab and Orthodox Christian parents.
When her family's visas expired the following year, they could not return to Jerusalem because of the partition of Israel, and eventually became U.S. citizens.
The Targonskys met while he was a patient at New England Deaconess Hospital, where she volunteered as a nurse's aide. They were married June 6, 1954.
"We've been married 51 years thanks to Matushka's love, humility and patience," said Targonsky, giving his wife the credit. "It's overdue for me to emulate such virtues."
While in Kodiak, the couple adopted five Russian-Aleut children Nina, Alexander, Evdokia, Nicholas and Dimitri.
"We have been blessed even with a few great-grandchildren," Targonsky said.
In addition to his church-related activities, Targonsky was a member of the Rotary Club in Kodiak, has been involved with the Moose Lodge in Kenai and the American Legion. He also is a familiar face at Kenai City Council meetings.
"Due to my old age, in a few months 76, I am serving less," he said of a schedule that includes liturgy on the first and third Sundays of each month, Saturday vespers and several feast day services.
"Glory be to God for all the generous gifts that we have received from all of you clergy, parishioners, former parishioners, relatives and friends and the good neighbors," he said.
If the traditional blessing at the close of Monday's service means anything, Targonsky's involvement with the church is far from being over.
First in Slavonic and then in English, the voices of Bishop Nikolai, attending clergy and parishioners filled the church as they repeated the familiar phrase, "God grant you many years."
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