Russian Priest Killed in Church
By SOPHIA KISHKOVSKY
Published: November 19, 2009
MOSCOW - The Rev. Daniil Sysoyev, a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church who was known for promoting missionary work among Muslims, was shot and killed in his parish church late Thursday night, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Father Sysoyev, 35, died at a Moscow hospital of gunshot wounds to the head
and chest, RIA Novosti said. The Web site of the Moscow patriarchate
confirmed his death. The parish's choir director was wounded in the
shootings at the Church of St. Thomas by the unidentified assailant.
A Moscow Patriarchate official called Father Sysoyev a "talented missionary"
whose work among Muslims, including Tatars, might have been the motive for the shooting. "I don't exclude that the murder is connected to the fact that he preached among and baptized those who belong to Muslim culture," the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk with the news media, said in a telephone interview.
Father Sysoyev had spoken out in opposition to Islam and had warned Russian
women against marrying Muslim men.
Anatoly Bagmet, an official of the prosecutor's office, said there was
reason to believe that the shooting took place "on religious grounds," the
news agency reported. Kirill Frolov, a prominent Orthodox missionary
activist, said that Father Sysoyev had said that he had been receiving
threats for several years.
"Over the course of two, three years Father Daniil, who was famous for his active missionary work, periodically received
e-mails stating that if he didn't stop his theological polemics with Islam,
then he will be dealt with like an infidel," Mr. Frolov told the Interfax
Missionary work and outreach to young people and non-churchgoers has become a keystone of the Moscow Patriarchate since Patriarch Kirill I became its leader 10 months ago. The church has been organizing rock concerts and trying to reach out to people through blogs.
Officials of the Russian Orthodox Church have complained in recent years
about violence directed against churches and priests. ...........................................................................
This is from an Orthodox Forum:
Let me share my own impressions and everything I know from TV news about the martyrdom of Fr. Daniel Sisoyev, Dean of the Church of Apostle Thomas in the south of Moscow. On Thursday, the week before I met Mr. Maximov in this church, I attended a lecture on Biblical studies led by Fr Daniel and I saw him alive for the first and, alas, for the last time on this earth.
The audience was waiting for him about one hour because he reportedly just
landed (apparently in Domodedovo airport, the road to which goes near this small log church perched on a high bank of a small, muddy river meandering along a wooded ravine next to a vast and dull residential area in the south of Moscow, near metro station Kantemirovskaya, far away from the center).
At long last, Fr. Daniel showed up, very cheerful, outgoing and full of energy,
with no trace of fatigue after a long flight; he blessed the audience with
the grace of all the Serbian saints and holy places. He had just arrived
Presumably he was there to attend the funeral of the late Patriarch Paul.
Fr. Daniel went to his parish church straight from the airport.
After a prayer the lecture began. It was recorded on video as usual. The topic was the Book of Isaiah. Fr Daniel pointed out that in this Book God showed through Isaiah that a righteous man is physically taken away from the sinful people in order to be placed in His presence, to be delivered from sorrows of a mundane life and to be rewarded eternally for his ministry to his people on behalf of God. Thus, for a righteous man such as a prophet, to be severed from sinful people is the ultimate good, whilst for the sinful people left on the earth it is a punishment.
God always takes away the last righteous man from the sinful people before judging this people.
For example, Lot and his family were removed from Sodom before God's wrath fell upon it.
Fr Daniel also said that this example applied to Moscow as well. He said
addressing the audience:
“ Why do you think Moscow is still standing? It stands only thanks to some righteous people still inhabiting the city. Once they are removed the city will collapse.'
His manner of addressing the audience was altogether uninhibited, colloquial, even peppered with good humour.
To illustrate the truths of the Scripture he used examples from everyday life.
His speech was absolutely informal and vivid, free-flowing.
Now I realize that late Fr Daniel was one of the few righteous ones still
protecting Moscow and Russia from the imminent wrath of God. And the fact that God took him away from us is alarming signal to me.
To my knowledge, Fr Daniel was very active preaching Orthodox faith among the homeless, drug addicts, alcoholics and even immigrants from Central Asia.
He was hated and frequently threatened with death by Islamic radicals for his ministry among traditionally Islamic people and by Russian extreme nationalists (fascists) who could not stand his preaching among Eastern immigrants. Many times Islamists promised to behead him, cut open his belly and let loose his intestines.
The last threat like this was voiced the day before his murder.
He was gunned down late in the evening on Thursday before last weekend,
after his regular Bible study session.
If I had not bought my ticket for Thursday, I could be there.
Someone telephoned him on his mobile that evening presumably asking for
The killer wearing an anti-flu mask (which is commonplace now
in Moscow due to the epidemic) rushed into the church shouting 'Where is
Sisoyev?' while the church choir director followed by Fr Daniel went
downstairs from the attic of the church where they have a hybrid of a
warehouse and book publishing office with two very old computers.
Without asking more questions the killer took out a pistol and fired a shot at the choir director. He was badly wounded and rushed to an emergency ward but his state was reported as almost hopeless.
I don't know whether he is still alive.
They say that Fr Daniel rushed towards his killer after he called his
name but the killer first gunned down the choir director and then fired
three shots at Fr Daniel, one bullet hitting him in the heart and another in
Fr Daniel was rushed to emergency but soon died in hospital.
He left his wife with 3 children.
Even an Islamic opponent of Fr Daniel expressed his condolences.
Among other forms of ministry, late Fr Daniel prepared hundreds of volunteer preachers; he travelled on his missionary trips extensively across Russia and beyond, as far as Central Asia.
His funeral service was in the church of SS Peter and Paul in Yasenevo residential area across the Bitsa forest to the south of Chertanovo), where his father, also a priest, is the dean.
Incidentally, the church of SS Peter and Paul belongs to the metochia of
Years ago I visited there a number of times, having walked
all the way through the forest (about 5 -7 kilometers) from Chertanovo and back home.
Reportedly, Fr Daniel was bored by hearing numerous death threats
but he was not scared and never gave up.
Here is the testimony of his matushka. (Presbytera)
"My dear ones, thank you for your support and your prayers. This is
unspeakable pain. This is the pain suffered by those standing by the Cross
of the Saviour. This is unspeakable Joy, which was shared by those who came up to the empty Tomb.
Death, where is your sting?
Fr Daniel foresaw his death years before the murder.
He always wished to be martyred and the Lord gave him the martyrdom.
The killer and those behind him wanted to spit again in the face of the Church, as their predecessors spat in the face of Christ, but they arrived nowhere because it is impossible to spit in the face of the Church.
Fr Daniel ascended his Golgotha in his church which he built and to
which he contributed all of his time and efforts.
He was killed as an ancient prophet between the altar and the sanctuary and he was truly martyred. He died for Christ Whom he served with all of his strength.
He would often tell me that he was running out of time and was afraid to be
short of time to accomplish so many things. He was in a hurry.
Humanly speaking, he would err and go sideways, go to extremes and stumble; but he was never mistaken in the main thing; his life was fully dedicated to HIM.
I did not understand why he was in a hurry.
Over the last 3 years, he officiated without any holidays and days off. I would murmur because I wanted at least sometimes to enjoy simple happiness, to have my husband and father of my children to be around.
But his way was different.
He said that they would kill him.
I asked him, 'who will take care of us', i.e. me and our three children.
He answered that he would place us under reliable care.
"I will entrust you to the Mother of God and she will take care of you".
These words were forgotten for a while but I recall them now.
In his will he described his funeral vestment.
When he said this I joked that it was too early to discuss this matter because nobody knew then who will bury whom. He said that I would bury him.
Once we talked about funeral services; I don't remember the whole conversation but I said that I never attended a funeral service for a priest. And he answered that I would attend his funeral service.
Today many of his words are recalled and their meaning became clear.
Now I am clear and understand all the points that lacked meaning before this happened.
We did not say farewell to each other in this life, we did not ask each other for forgiveness, we did not embrace each other.
It was an ordinary day; he left home for the Divine Liturgy and I never saw him again.
Why I did not go to the church in order to meet him there? I was thinking
about this but then I decided that I had better cook the dinner and put my
children to bed.
It was because of the children that I did not go there - the Hand stopped me from going there.
And the day before, I went to the church and met him there, and I sensed the dark clouds becoming denser around him.
During our last days together I tried to spend more time with him.
During the last week I was thinking only about death and life beyond
I failed to come to terms with either.
On that day this phrase was spinning in my mind, "I feel the breath of death behind my back".
I was under great pressure during the last week; it felt like tons of cargo fell upon me.
I am not broken. He supports me, I feel him by my side.
During this time we have said more tender words to each other than ever before in our lifetime.
Only now I realise how great was our love for each other.
The commemoration of forty days since the death of Fr Daniel will coincide
with his name day and the patron feast of the new church - December 30th
which is the feast day of prophet Daniel.
According to prophecy of a starets, this new church will be erected, but, he foretold, Fr Daniel will not officiate there; the second part of this prophecy has already fulfilled."