October 2008 - St. Jacob Netsvetov, Enlightener of the Peoples of Alaska
Feast Day: 16 October
St. Jacob was born on Atka Island, Alaska, in 1802, to pious parents. His father was Russian and his mother was Aleut. When the family moved to Irkutsk in 1823, he enrolled in the seminary there. In 1825, he married Anna Simeonovna and was ordained deacon in 1826. In 1828, Archbishop Michael ordained him priest and provided him with two antimensia; one for St. Nicholas Church in Atka and one for missionary activity. St. Nicholas did not have a building, so Jacob and his father, Yegor, constructed a large tent to serve until one could be built. Father Jacob would take that tent with him on his missionary journeys. His parish stretched for 2,000 miles. He established a school for the children in Atka where they learned both Russian and Unangan Aleut. He created an alphabet so the Aleutian language could be written and read. He continued the work of translation of liturgical texts into the native languages that St. Innocent had started. In March of 1836, his wife died of cancer. In July, his house burned to the ground. In 1837, his father died. Father Jacob petitioned his bishop to be permitted to return to Irkutsk to be tonsured a monk. A year later, he received permission, contingent upon the arrival of a replacement; which never happened. Instead, St. Innocent had him accompany him on a missionary voyage to several islands. Father Jacob returned, comforted and energized. He continued to serve in Atka until the end of 1844. Bishop Innocent appointed him to serve the new Kvikhpak Mission in the Yukon. He learned more languages and devised more alphabets. He baptized thousands of natives from various warring tribes all through the region, bringing peace through the Gospel of Christ. In 1863, he was slandered by an assistant and summoned to Sitka to answer charges before Bishop Peter. He was quickly cleared of all charges, but remained in Sitka, because of failing health, serving at Tlingit chapel. He reposed on July 26, 1864, and was buried at the entry to the chapel.
Troparion of St. Jacob of Alaska
O righteous father Jacob, adornment of Atka and the Yukon Delta; you offered yourself as a living sacrifice To bring light to a searching people. Offspringof Russian America, flower of brotherly unity, healer of sickness and terror ofdemons: O holy father Jacob, pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved.