Centenary of the Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe

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Bishop Michel (Storogenko)

Bishop Michael (Storogenko)

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Mgr Michel (in the world Michel Alekseevich Storogenko) was born in Ukraine on September 16, 1924. Subsequently, when he had just emigrated to Belgium at the end of the Second World War, he changed his date of birth from five years - 1929 - in its official documents, in order to avoid the forcible repatriation to the USSR provided for in the agreements of the Yalta conference, because in this country the former Soviet citizens who had not reached the age of majority legal were not affected by this close. Already in his youth in Kharkov, Michel Storogenko had known the terrible fate of his fellow citizens - the famine of 1933-1934 and the purges during the great Stalinist terror of the years 1937-1938. Often he would tell how, in those years, he would hear at night the noise of NKVD trucks coming to stop neighbors and take them to an unknown destination.

At the end of the Second World War, he succeeded in emigrating with the remnants of the defeated German army, passing through Poland and Germany, to finally arrive in Wallonia (Belgium) in a camp for displaced people from Europe. from the East (DP), where he got a hard job in the mines and factories around Liège-Charleroi. There, he got to know the local Russian parish communities, led at the time by Archpriest John Bekitch (also from the second wave of emigration), who later became Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America, and Archpriest Valent Romensky (of the first wave of emigration). This is the visit to this DP camp of Russian origin in Belgium carried out in 1948 by Bishop Cassien (Bezobrazov), then rector of the Saint-Serge Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris, and the Archimandrite Savva (Chimkevitch), diocesan secretary to Metropolitan Vladimir (Tikhonicky), who will have a decisive role for the rest of his life. Both succeed in convincing him, as well as some other companions in misfortune, among which the future archpriests Georges Sidorenko and Jean Jankin, to come to Paris to study at the Institute of Theology. Michel Storogenko finished his studies at the Saint Sergius Institute in 1953, after having defended his master's degree in theology on Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, under the supervision of Professor Antoine Kartachev.

Already during his studies at the Institut Saint-Serge, his exceptional deep bass voice had been noticed and he had joined the choir of the Saint-Serge church, directed by Michel Ossorguine, then by his son Nicolas Ossorguine. After improving her vocal technique at I. Rogovskaya, he very regularly participates in recordings made by various Russian Orthodox choirs in Paris and the surrounding area, as well as in concerts and charity events of the choirs of the Saint-Alexandre-Nevsky cathedral (under the direction of Pierre Spassky, then by Eugène Evetz), the Saint-Serge church (under the direction of Nicolas Ossorguine), the Choir of Cossacks from the Don of Patorzhinsky and the youth choir directed by Alexis Kirianenko. After marrying Irina Ivtchenko in July 1957, he was ordained deacon by Bishop Cassien at the Church of St. Sergius on December 7, 1957. But like neither the parish of St. Sergius, nor later the parish of St. Alexander Nevsky, did not have the means to provide him with a salary and accommodation, he had for many years to work in private sector companies as an electrical engineer.

After the retirement of the protodiacer Basile Degtiarioff in 1966, the deacon Michel Storogenko was appointed, by decree of Archbishop Georges (Tarasoff), first titular deacon at the Saint-Alexandre-Nevsky cathedral in Paris and elevated to the rank of protodiacre . In 1978, the same archbishop gave him the right to wear the kamilavka. For almost thirty years, the protodeacon Michael Storogenko enhanced the beauty of liturgical celebrations at the cathedral through his voice, his song, his knowledge of the liturgical ordo and, above all, by his ability to accomplish all the details of the diaconal service with a great sense of solemnity, always precise and measured, without seeking unnecessary effects.

After being widowed in October 1990, Father Michel, already old, accepted to become vicar bishop of the Archdiocese of parishes of Russian tradition in Western Europe, as urgently requested by Archbishop Serge (Konovaloff), who needed of a faithful auxiliary to the post of rector of the parish of Saint-Serge-de-Radonège and superior of Métochion Saint-Serge in Paris. On May 25, 1995, the protodeacon Michael Storogenko was therefore ordained a priest by Archbishop Serge in St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and a few weeks later he took the small monastic vows. After his election by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and with the blessing of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, he was elevated to the episcopate with the title of Bishop of Claudiopolis. His episcopal consecration took place on October 8, 1995, in the Church of St. Sergius, under the presidency of Archbishop Serge. From 1995 to 2012, in addition to his episcopal service in the parish of Saint Serge, Bishop Michel also held the office of dean of parishes and communities in eastern France.

After the death of Archbishop Serge, which occurred at the beginning of 2003, Mgr Michel presented his candidacy as archbishop directing the Archdiocese, but the general assembly of the clerical-secular diocesan, meeting on May 1 of the same year, decided by a large majority to choose for this function another auxiliary of Mgr Serge, Bishop Gabriel (of Vylder), which was then ratified by the Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople. After that, Bishop Michel ceased to take part in the meetings of the Diocesan Council of the Archdiocese, of which he had been a member by right since 1995, and henceforth refrained from taking an active part in the life of the Archdiocese in general, while continuing to celebrate Sundays and public holidays regularly at Saint-Serge church. In November 2009, by decree of Archbishop Gabriel, he was released from his function of rector of the parish of Saint-Serge given his great age, but was retained the honorary title of superior of Saint-Sergius Metochion, out of respect for the service he had performed for so many years for the Church. Bishop Michel was to spend the last years of his life in his daughter's house, near Chartres. He suffered from a serious illness. From time to time, priests from Paris came to visit it.