HIEROMARTYR SERGIUS OF VYATKA PROVINCE (+ 1942)
and those with him
By Vladimir Moss
Fr. Sergius Sukhorukov was born in the village of Shanyrikha, Vasilsursk uyezd, Nizhegorod province. He served in the tsarist army as an under-officer. As a priest, at the end of the 1920s he served in the village of Chernushka, then in Sheshurga, and from 1930 – in the village of Lom, Yaransk uyezd. He was a zealot of piety, and said from the ambon that the declaration of Metropolitan Sergius was apostasy from the Orthodox Church and that those who accepted it were betraying Christ as did Judas. Vladyka Nectarius of Yaransk, who was shot in 1937, transferred Fr. Sergius from church to church, perhaps in order that his fiery sermons should be heard everywhere. In 1930 he was arrested for refusing forestry work and sentenced to two years in the camps and three years’ exile, but the sentence was not confirmed.
Fr. Sergius’ church warden was Isaiah Yakovlevich. Once, at the end of the 1920s, he was summoned to the village soviet, where they tried to force him, as church warden, to sign the declaration. He refused outright: “We are not servants of the atheist power, we submit only to Christ…” While the president was drawing up an act for him to sign, Isaiah recited Psalm 90, “he that dwelleth in the help of the Most High”. He refused to sign it, and the president, exasperated, at length shouted: “Are you a magician, or what? Go home!”
People used to come to Isaiah for advice, and he always filled them with courage. His face shone like a priest’s. Once on December 18/31, 1930 there was a meeting of the parishioners at Lom to decide what to do. They included Fr. Sergius, Isaiah Yakovlevich, another trustee Alexander, who later hid for ten years, James Stepanovich Oshaev, who had been a trustee of the destroyed church at Kiknur and who later received a martyr’s crown. This was Fr. Sergius’ last supper with his parishioners. James’ Stepanovich’s daughter, Matushka S., remembers some words of his relayed to her by her mother: “Preserve the Church by going up to Soviet power? But what will that Church be? Christ’s?” Next Sunday she was taken to confession and communion with Fr. Sergius since her parents feared that it would be the last. And they were right. She never went to a church again for 62 years – until the Free Russian Orthodox Church appeared in Suzdal. Within a week after Christmas two policemen came to take Fr. Sergius away. The parishioners hastily brought him a sarafan and shawl, and dressed in these, Fr. Sergius left the church, avoiding the policemen. The parishioners took him to another village 10 kilometres away. But the self-sacrificing parishioners could not protect their priest for long. This took place at the beginning of 1931.
In the summer of 1932 he was arrested in Lom and accused of “joining the staff of the church-monarchist organization, the True Orthodox Church”, of “organizing the church counter-revolutionary underground” and of “directing it and conducting active counter-revolutionary work in the population”. On August 14, 1932 he was sentenced to three years in the camps and sent to a camp. After his release he lived in the village of Staraya Rudka, Sharanga region. On December 4, 1937 he was arrested, and on November 3, 1938 he was sentenced to five years in the camps and sent to a camp. On April 20, 1942 he died in the Talazhsk section of the camp.
His wife, Maria Nikolayevna Sukhorukova, was born in 1899 in the village of Kumya, Kozmodemyansk uyezd, Mari province. She was disenfranchised, and had no fixed domicile. In 1932 she was arrested in the village of Sovietskoye and accused of “joining the staff of the church-monarchist organization, the True Orthodox Church” and of “conducting counter-revolutionary work in the population on the orders of the organization”. On August 14, 1932 she was released, taking account the time she had already been in prison. In 1935, after the return from camp of her husband, she helped him in illegal services in secret churches in the homes of believers. On February 11, 1938 she was arrested for being “a participant in a counter-revolutionary church-monarchist organization, ‘the Secret Church’”, and on November 3 was sentenced to five years in the camps and sent to a camp. Nothing more is known about her.