On Wednesday, October 21, Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov reposed in the Lord. Fr. Dmitry was one of the Russian Church’s most beloved and authoritative priests. He served for more than forty years and was the rector of eight parishes in Moscow and the Moscow region. He stood at the forefront of the Church’s battle against abortion, and is remembered as the “father” to countless children and a fearless preacher who converted thousands.
Fr. Dmitry suffered from numerous illnesses and health problems, and having passed through a Golgotha of suffering, he departed to the Lord at the age of 69.
Several hierarchs and clerics have already shared their memories and impressions of this servant of God:
Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov and Porkhov Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov and Porkhov:
I was very lucky. I’ve known Fr. Dmitry since ’83 or ’84. Every encounter with him was a special event, a special joy, and a lesson. Our last encounter was from afar and by mistake. I have both Fr. Dmitry Smirnov and the architect Dmitry Smirnov in my phone. I knew Fr. Dmitry was in the hospital and I didn’t want to risk disturbing him. But blindly, without my glasses on, I accidentally clicked on his number—Fr. Dmitry Smirnov, and I said:
The faint voice of Fr. Dmitry suddenly answered me:
“Oy, Batushka, it’s you!2 Forgive me, I was calling the other Dmitry. How are you, Batiushka?”
He suddenly sighed and said:
“Oh… If only you knew, Vladyka, how rough things are!”
So much pain; so much patience! There was no hopelessness, but there was something unexpected for him. He went through many trials. But here, it seemed, his patience had reached its limits. He said:
“I wouldn’t wish such sufferings on my worst enemy. God forbid!”
It was clear that this was a real Golgotha for him. Of course, I tried to tell him that we all loved him, how important he was for us, that everyone was praying for him.
“Yes, yes. Pray… Pray…”
But Fr. Dmitry wouldn’t be Fr. Dmitry if he didn’t immediately change the conversation and say some very warm, kind, fatherly words. It was obvious that every word was pronounced with great difficulty.
We said goodbye. And yesterday I heard the news, so terrible for us, but I think joyous for Fr. Dmitry.
One of the Optina saints—Barsanuphius, I think—taught, following the holy fathers, that every man must go through his own Golgotha. For the past few months, especially the past week, Fr. Dmitry was upon this Golgotha. He said it was coming, that he was going through it. He humbly entreated prayers and did not forget about the most important thing that was within him: love and a warm heart for everyone. I have no doubt that he spoke with everyone just as warmly.
His Grace Bishop Panteleimon of Orekhovo-Zuevsky:
Fr. Dmitry Smirnov was a very kind and very brave man—absolutely fearless. He wasn’t afraid to speak the truth, whether someone liked it or not. He fought for the good and did so pointedly and brilliantly…
He was a very good man: He founded three orphanages and a school, he organized one of the first sisters of mercy [in modern Russia], and he gathered together a huge community of talented, loving people. Everyone respected him, whether Orthodox or non-Orthodox. He did a lot for many people. He did a lot for me…
It was always very joyful with him; he was never discouraged…
He was a wonderful man—an entire epoch. I believe that the Lord will receive him into His habitations, because he had a simple, sincere faith.
Fr. Theodore Lukianov, the Chairman of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchal Commission on Family Issues and the Protection of Motherhood and Childhood:
Fr. Dmitry was not just a striking preacher. He substantiated what he said with his life. He built several orphanages for children in honor of St. Paul the Merciful. There, he took in children that even the state institutions had rejected. For the children, these orphanages are like a big family. Fr. Dmitry basically became a father to hundreds of children. You could say he had more children than anyone in Moscow. This is a side of his life that he cherished very much but which wasn’t known to the general public…
He was the first priest in Moscow who began working systematically to prevent abortions. For example, in the early ‘90s, Fr. Dmitry founded the “Life” center, which was involved in scientific and educational work, and printed millions of leaflets against abortion. Fr. Dmitry basically created the movement to protect the lives of unborn children in Russia…
Batiushka loved painting, and he wrote beautifully. He had good artistic taste. He restored more than ten churches, collecting funds from benefactors and parishioners. Moreover, he was unmercenary, a very modest person. We even raised funds for his treatment and medication.
Fr. Dmitry’s preaching was very bright and sharp, exposing problems in society… People didn't always like it, but he led tens of thousands of people to Christ.