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'I don't want to live without my wife': After six decades together, Orthodox priest and wife die within hours of each other

ORTHODOX

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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 12/13/17

A beautiful and heartbreaking love story from Albany. Details:

The Rev. Alvian Smirensky, a Russian Orthodox priest recalled as accomplished, compassionate and wise, had his life’s final wish fulfilled, according to the Rev. Peter Olsen, who referred to the older priest as his spiritual mentor.
 “He had said to his son in law, I don’t want to live without my wife,” said Olsen, archpriest of St. Basil’s Russian Orthodox Church in Watervliet.
In fact, Alvian and Helen Smirensky, married for 59 years, died Sunday within hours of each other, on adjoining beds at Albany Medical Center Hospital. Their deaths on the same morning were not the result of an accident, crime or other shared tragic circumstance, but were the endings through unconnected natural causes of two lives intimately joined for six decades. That was fitting, according to another fellow clergyman who knew them well. “They were very much a partnership,” said the Rev. Christopher Savage, prior at New Skete Monasteries in Cambridge. Helen Smirensky went to Albany Med late last week for emergency surgery, Olsen said. (He did not say what her ailment was, and family could not be reached Thursday.) The surgery was not successful, however, and on Saturday night, Father Alvian, as he was called in the Russian Orthodox tradition, went to his wife to perform ministrations at her death bed. As he was being driven home to the Beverwyck senior living community in Slingerlands, Alvian had a massive stroke, Olsen said. He was promptly transported back to Albany Med, where staff arranged for them to be together. Helen, 84, whom Olsen called Matushka (for “priest’s wife”) died around 5 a.m. Alvian, 88, passed away about three hours later, Olsen said.

Read on.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord …

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