Moscow, November 25, 2019
On the night of November 19, 2009, Fr. Daniel Sysoev was shot by an angry Muslim in the Church of the Apostle Thomas in southern Moscow that he had built. He died early in the morning of November 20.
10 years later, Fr. Daniel is remembered as a great missionary and theologian who was fearless in his preaching of Christ to all people in all situations. Through his books, his homilies, and his martyric death, he continues to inspire both those who knew him personally and those who know him through his works.
In honor of the 10th anniversary of his martyric death, a memorial evening was held in the conference hall of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Danilov Hotel at Danilovsky Monastery, focused on his works and legacy. The hall was filled to overflowing, with many standing in the crowded balcony.
Among the participants were family members, including Fr. Daniel’s parents Archpriest Alexei Sysoev and his mother Matushka Anna, several notable priests, including Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov, who serves as the spiritual father for the missionary school founded by Fr. Daniel, and theologians and missionaries who expounded upon the importance of Fr. Daniel’s works and example.
Archimandrite Melchizedek (Artiukhin), the abbot of the Moscow representation of Optina Monastery, spoke of Fr. Daniel as a fiery flame who translated the Gospel by his very life.
Archpriest Alexander Ageikin, the head of Fr. Daniel’s missionary school, recalled serving with the newly-ordained Fr. Daniel at Christ the Savior Cathedral for an entire month, noting that from the first moment of meeting Fr. Daniel, he could sense that he was a deeply-believing man of the Church. He could sense that Fr. Daniel was full of energy and had to restrain himself—but, as Fr. Alexander recalled—Fr. Daniel was also in a hurry, knowing that his time on earth was limited.
The centerpiece of the evening was the presentation of a new film in memory of Fr. Daniel, “He Always Spoke About God,” which combined wonderful footage of Fr. Daniel preaching and serving and going on pilgrimage with interviews with a number of people who knew and are inspired by him.
A recording of the entire night is available on YouTube, with the film beginning at 1:09:45:
It is especially touching when Fr. Daniel’s mother, Matushka Anna, speaks about him with a sense of joy.
In the film, Archpriest Oleg Stenyaev recalls a story that is very characteristic of Fr. Daniel. A very educated and smart Muslim man once came to Fr. Daniel, determined to educate him about the Koran and show him how he misunderstands Islam and the true nature of God. As Fr. Oleg recalls, the man went and spoke with him once, and he returned a second time, and the third time he returned to be baptized.
The film was followed by a number of theological presentations, including a discussion of Fr. Daniel’s conviction that there is no salvation outside the saving enclosure of the Orthodox Church, and a discussion by Archpriest Constantine Bufeev, the founder of the Shestodnev (6-Days) Society, for which Fr. Daniel served as Secretary, of his teachings on the creation of the world and man, following the Tradition of the Holy Fathers, which cannot be harmonized with the theory of evolution.
Another video presentation combined videos from missionaries from throughout Russia and the world who are inspired by Fr. Daniel’s fervent example. Among the missionaries was Archpriest George Maximov, who is currently visiting missions in Africa. He spoke of how many in Africa are already familiar with and inspired by the works of Fr. Daniel, thanks to their English translations.
The evening concluded with a panel of missionaries who shared how their work is inspired by Fr. Daniel, as well as several more video recordings from missionaries as far away as the Caribbean.
A trailer for the film, “He Always Spoke About God,” can also be viewed below: