Father George

Father George Makukhin,
Priest and Outdoorsman:
May His Memory Be Eternal!

Father George Makukhin was born on February 3, 1929 in the city of Yalta in the Crimea. His grandfather, a descendant of simple peasants, worked in the factories of Massandra where, because of his devotion to hard work, he eventually became a factory manager. On one occasion he hosted Tsar St. Nicholas II who was visiting Massandra, and treated him to the famous Massandra wines.

George lived with his grandmother in Alushta and was educated by her. His grandmother was a believer who before the war took her grandson with her to church. During the war George managed to survive many bombings, as well as the consequent hardships and hunger. Once George and his young friends stumbled onto a place where the invading Germans were executing everyone in sight. Romanian soldiers gave them cover and ordered them to run away as fast as they could, saving them from certain death.

For a long time George worked in a Crimean nature preserve. He was an excellent huntsman, fowler, and nature expert. He also took part in underwater swimming and loved to fish.


[Right: Father George with Hierodeacon Andrew during his ordination in 1993; Below: With Father John Bockman in Moscow, 1996]

With Father John

    Having been raised in the Faith by his grandmother, he tried to visit
    churches during the difficult times of religious persecution. In
    Yevpatoria, where he moved with his wife in 1969, he served as
    sacristan in the church and for many years, always without pay,
    assisted the church in a variety of tasks. At that time he knew
    nothing of the Catacomb Church.

    Later the Lord sent a man who told him about the Catacomb and
    the Greek Old Calendar Church. However, to leave the Moscow
    Patriarchate immediately posed some difficulties, and therefore
    it was to take some time. When he became acquainted with Bishop
    Gury in 1991, he was finally able to make the decision to join
    the True Orthodox Church. Two years later he accepted ordination
    to the priesthood.

With the blessing of Bishop Gury he went to Boston in late 1993. There he was ordained to the diaconate and then to the priesthood by bishops of the synod of the True Orthodox Church of Greece in North America. At Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston and at Holy Resurrection Church in Worcester, where Father George learned to serve, he enjoyed the love and respect of all the clergy, monastics, and lay parishioners.

In May 1994 Father George returned to Russia. For the next five years until his very repose he zealously carried out the services of the priesthood. Besides serving in his Church of St. Vladimir in Yevpatoria, Father George traveled regularly to Moscow and served in the Church of St. Seraphim of Sarov in the Moscow Metokhion of the True Orthodox Church of Greece.

Young George

[Right: Young George Makukhin;
Below: With his grandmother]

Young George    His trip on a dirty, uncomfortable train from Yevpatoria,
    Crimea, took 28 to 30 hours each way. Yet without fail on
    every trip to Moscow he visited elderly ill parishioners who
    were unable to come to church for services. He also
    regularly visited a home for the aged where he heard
    confessions and gave Holy Communion to incapacitated
    elderly who eagerly and impatiently awaited his arrival.
    From 1997 he was able to travel to St. Petersburg and Kiev
    to serve the developing True Orthodox communities there.

   Despite his age (Father George was ordained when he was
    sixty-five years old), he was full of strength and good
    courage and always responded to the requests of his
    far-flung flock for the various rites and services of the
    Church. Thus it was that in 1998 he gave immediate support
    to a plan to organize a children's Orthodox camp, and set out
    with children and parishioners for Lake Seliger, to the holy
    places associated with St. Nilus Stolobensky.

In spite of pneumonia contracted not long before, Father George did not fear to share with his young fledglings all the difficult conditions of outdoor camping — life in damp tents, bad weather, mosquitoes, campfire food, and other things that could be less than pleasant. With joy Father George undertook to assist parents with the organization of the camp, which was to give much joy and benefit to children, strengthening them spiritually as well as physically.

Everything was in readiness for organizing the following year's camp. Enthusiastic parents and supporters were planning to buy camping equipment for Father George's next arrival in Moscow. But the Lord judged otherwise.

In November 1998, when the parishioners in Moscow found out that illness was preventing Father George from coming to Moscow as he had planned, they became very anxious and immediately began to pray earnestly for the restoration of his health. It seemed that after an operation he was headed for recovery and in time would again be able to go to Moscow to serve. But after his return from the hospital at the end of December he suddenly got worse and his illness developed swiftly, amazing even the experienced doctor who in all his many years of practice had never before encountered such a development and could not explain it.

Apparently the Lord was going to take his faithful servant away. Several days before Father George's repose some Moscow parishioners visited him in Yevpatoria. Father was indescribably happy over this visit, questioned them about everything, and was solicitous about their needs. He lamented that he had let everybody down because of his illness and would not be able to come. He begged forgiveness that his absence would leave his flock without services for the feast.

Then his Crimean parishioners arrived from Yalta. Overcoming his pain, Father George got up, shaking with weakness, and put on his robes. Every step gave him tremendous difficulty. He was breathing in gasps, but approached the altar, said the confessional prayer over his little flock, and gave them and himself communion with the reserved gifts. In three days he yielded his spirit into the Hands of God.

No one expected this to occur so quickly. On the very day of his repose — December 24, 1998 (January 6, 1999 by the new calendar), the eve of the Nativity of Christ — his "fledglings" came to him from Moscow and Kiev. They brought letters and gifts from his flock and from the monks and parishioners in America. On the morning of that day the mothers from Holy Nativity Convent in Boston telephoned and Father George spoke with them and listened to their singing. A few hours later he was resting peacefully, as if falling asleep. He just lifted his hands as the priest does at the beginning of Divine Liturgy before the altar table, and his spirit quietly departed.

At that very time in Moscow his flock was serving the Royal Hours and vespers with the typika service. And when the festal troparion "Thy Nativity, O Christ our God . . ." was being sung, and the feast proper had arrived, and when they were preparing to celebrate the All-night Vigil of the Nativity of Christ, the telephone rang with the news of Father's repose.

Father George is survived by his wife, Matushka Anna, who still lives in Yevpatoria, Crimea.

Thus came together a feast and the end of an earthly life, joy and grief. And it was difficult for the orphaned flock immediately to fathom their thoughts about this event. Again the Lord had taken away a shepherd on the feast of the Nativity of Christ. Just three years before, on December 25, 1995/January 7, 1996 in the evening of the feast of the Nativity of Christ, the ever-memorable Bishop Vladyka Gury had departed to the Lord. The mothers at that time said that Vladyka Andrei had summoned Bishop Gury (meaning the New Hieromartyr Bishop Andrei of Ufa who is commemorated on December 26/January 8). (continued below)

With Bishop Gury

The same thought, "Bishop Gury is now calling Father George," occurred to everyone. As if in corroboration of this thought, several photographs of Fr. George with Vladyka Gury, suitable for use in the church, were found and framed by the solicitous hands of one of the members of the Sisterhood (see photographs above).

There they stand together, two elderly men, one a bishop and the other a priest, at Optina Monastery and at the Donskoi Monastery after they had venerated the relics of St. Tikhon. Both were models of faithfulness to the traditions they kept while performing their pastoral service.

Vladyka Gury served almost seven decades, Father George but five years. But to those who arrive at the eleventh hour, as doers of His work, the Lord renders the reward equally with those called earlier in the day. They both endured to the end all the burdens and sorrows of their earthly course, carrying the cross of their service in Christ's vineyard and laying down their souls for their flock and for Christ's Church.

They leave us now, but the grief of separation from them on the very feast of the Nativity of Christ opens up in bright hope — hope of birth into eternal life. The Lord receives His faithful servants, and together they pray for us unworthy and sinful ones at His throne.

May their memory be eternal!

Translated and adapted by Father John Bockman from Vozdvizheniye, January 2000, No. 24.

Return to Table of Contents