Mary Ann Khoury, coordinator of “Outreach Alaska,” has traveled to Alaska—Orthodox America’s “Holy Land”—many times since 1999. Over the years, she has assisted individuals in planning personal pilgrimages to Spruce Island for the annual Saint Herman Pilgrimage. With the assistance of FOS Tours and Travel, she will lead the 2015 “Walk the Path of the Saints” Pilgrimage to the many Orthodox Christian destinations in Alaska. This pilgrimage, Mary Ann says, “has been finalized and will be the first complete spiritual travel experience to Alaska focused on the saints and the places where they planted the Holy Orthodox Church.”
Pilgrims will meet in Anchorage on July 30, 2015 and will conclude their journey there on August 10. An optional two-day package to Sitka will be available for those desiring to add this “pearl of Orthodoxy”—Sitka is the home of the historic Archangel Michael Cathedral, in which the Wonderworking Sitka Icon of the Mother of God is enshrined—to their pilgrimage. The pilgrimage also includes visits to Bethel, on the Kuskokwim River, where participants will join the region’s clergy for services at the new Saint Sophia Church and enjoy a dinner with the local faithful.
“These are the Yupik peoples of Alaska – some of the first to become Orthodox Christians through the missionary efforts of Saint Jacob Netsvetov, himself a native Alaskan,” Mary Ann said. “From Bethel we’ll travel with the clergy by skiff – small boat—up the river to the village of Kwethluk to visit the grave of the saintly Matushka Olga Michael, who is being considered for glorification.”
Other pilgrimage highlights include stops at many historic parish churches along the Kenai Highway. In Kodiak, pilgrims will visit Saint Herman’s Seminary, where they will have the opportunity to review the archives with the school’s archivist, and visit Holy Resurrection Cathedral, in which Saint Herman’s relics are enshrined. Among the other sites to be visited are Spruce Island, on which Saint Herman lived and was initially interred. And Mary Ann adds that “whale watching and deep sea fishing are all possible in the Kodiak area, along with visits to museums, glaciers, the Anchorage Farm and Art Market, and other venues.”
His Grace, Bishop David of Sitka and Alaska, and Archpriest Michael Oleksa, author and Alaska historian, will offer presentations to the pilgrims to assist them in contextualizing their experience.
The pilgrimage cost [not including the aforementioned visit to Sitka] is $3,500.00 per person, double occupancy, from Anchorage. Single occupancy is also available for an additional $900.00 per person. A $500.00 deposit is required by February 28, 2015.
For pilgrimage details, terms and conditions, a fact sheet and a wealth of related information, please contact Mary Ann Khoury at firstname.lastname@example.org.