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

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Parish of the Meeting with Christ in Saint-Prix

In 1975, in Eaubonne, Father André Fortounatto was authorized by his mother to transform a garage in his garden into a chapel. He regularly celebrated services there.

The success of this new place of worship was such, that this chapel gradually became too small. We had to find a building capable of accommodating all the parishioners. A small church is made available to us by the Bishop of Pontoise, in Cernay.

While the ordinary services continue in the chapel of Eaubonne, major holidays are celebrated in Cernay until the church is decommissioned in 1983. At this time and faced with this imperative, there was only one alternative presented to Father André: the need to enlarge the premises of Eaubonne; all the needed work is carried out by the parishioners for 3 years, while the offices continue.

Bishop Georges (Wagner) consecrates the extended chapel on February 2, 1986. The core of the faithful of around thirty people was later joined by other Orthodox, visiting more or less regularly.

In 1995, following the death of the owner, who became Sister Eugenie in 1980, and was both the mother of Father André and the keeper of the place, the sale of the property had to be carried out. The need to search for a new location became obvious. Little by little hope was born thanks to a couple from Saint-Prix (95) who, in 1983 had proposed to Father André that the dovecote on their property be transformed into a chapel. This project, abandoned at the time due to the importance of the work, ultimately became the best and only solution.

With the Grace of God and once again the help of the parishioners, not only did the transformation take place, but the owner, at the end of her life, donated the converted building to the parish and on September 10th, 1995, the first liturgy was celebrated in the Chapel of Saint Prix.

The question of the succession of Father André Fortounatto arose when in 2002, he retired and moved to the outskirts of Vichy, where he took over the local Orthodox Church. A parishioner of the church of Boulogne, André Krementzoff, ordained deacon in 1995, who had officiated many times at St. Prix alongside Father André, succeeded him after his priestly ordination on June 2nd, 2002.

For three years, he was helped and assisted by his predecessor in the service and management of the parish, in the continuation of the initial impetus based on the knowledge of the parishioners and the peaceful and friendly atmosphere generated by the history and the character of the church of Saint Prix.

Inseparable from the services, the choir previously conducted by Matouchka Hélène Fortounatto, is now in the experienced hands of Anne Kawiecki, assisted by Matouchka Patricia Krementzoff, the cantor of the church.

Faithful to the Archdiocese of Orthodox Russian Tradition Churches in Western Europe, the parish has decided to adopt the Julian calendar. Services are regular, every other week, and all holidays are celebrated. The main language is French, but some prayers are said or sung in Slavonic. Given the diversity of the parishioners, the Lord's Prayer, during the liturgy, is recited in 5 languages: French, Slavonic, Serbian, Polish and Romanian.

The small attendance at vespers is explained by the constraint of often long distances. The Sunday office, on the other hand, brings together about fifty people. The service at the altar is provided by supervised children, trained by catechism sessions to which Olga, the daughter of Father André, has devoted time from the beginning.

Social life in Saint-Prix passes through numerous parishioners and their children, who are connected like a family, under the spiritual and moral protection of Father André and his Matouchka Patricia.

The parish is a religious association. The board of directors includes Father André, secretary Paul Fedèle, assistant secretary Olga Fortounatto and treasurer Damien Behr.

It is important to emphasize that from the outset of the religious association, Father André Fortounatto, then Father André Krementzoff, out of respect, wished to maintain contact with the successive bishops of Pontoise. Friendly relations forged since then have not only been maintained, but have subsequently been developed with the Catholic parish of Saint-Prix, whose Feast Day is celebrated jointly each year, with adoration of relics and procession.