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Economos Antony Gabriel's Tribute to Matushka Juliana Schmemann (+January 29, 2017)

January 30, 2017

Dear Mary,

I learned today your beloved mother has passed into Eternity, her natural home. I have known Juliana since 1959 at the "old St. Vladimir's Seminary" on 100 West 121st Street as a young seminarian. I was engaged by Juliana and Father Alexander to watch over the children in their absence. I got to know them not simply as our dear mentors but as beautifully caring and spiritually loving persons.

I remember the sacrifices they made in order to plant the seedlings of Orthodoxy on this soil. They were true role models for us in a very distinctive way. They, as a wonderful family unit, were living testimonies to the truth "that God is with us," in every sense of "the Word." Their love was electric, and all of us wanted to be like them. I still see Alexander and Juliana in my mind's eye, hand in hand exploring New York as they enjoyed the arts, intellectual gatherings, concerts, or when they participated in a number of Sobors of what was then the Metropolia. What an influence and impact Alexander had on these proceedings.

Your mother Juliana, as we discovered, had a saintly ancestor who I believe she emulated in her daily life. There was always a mysterious air about her. As teacher, headmistress, and mother, she had a measure of discipline and authenticity in her daily life, both private and in reaching out to others. One knew instinctively that she was a person of deep faith and prayer. Light emanated from her persona at the Seminary because as she took interest in her husband's students, and she was always ready to comfort and embrace us in a special and unique manner.

In the winter of her years, she came to live in Montreal. I will forever relish our afternoon teas together as she took an avid interest in all our affairs whether personal or ecclesiastical. She had a particular fondness for a Lynn, my wife who was the first female student to study theology. Later after Fr. John and Masha retired from the parish they had inaugurated, they joyfully participated in the Liturgy at St. George where she was revered, respected and loved. At each coffee hour following the Divine Liturgy, Juliana was surrounded by a sea of admirers. We loved her and she loved us.

Whenever she lectured, the faithful were immensely attentive to her comments, both serious and lighthearted in content and in delivery. She was a true "staretza" incarnating the spirituality that was borne in her heart as well as through her experiences at the Holy Convent in Pennslvania, where she retreated from time to time; or at La Belle where she could contemplate silently surrounded by the beauty of nature. This was also a place where her family could come and experience the expanse of her open and loving heart. She bore herself with great dignity with an air of self assurance combined with humility made her presence luminous. She encountered others with a touch of grace that made each person feel they were special to her. Truly an unique gift.

Juliana, I shall never forget the gift of friendship that you extended to Lynn and myself. We felt so blessed that you spent a part of your last sojourn on earth close to us. Khalil Gibran once wrote in The Prophet: "Do not say that I have God in my heart; but rather I am in the heart of God." Indeed, Juliana, you are in the Heart of God by your blameless and honorable life; celebrating the Eternal Liturgy.

"Well done thy good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of the Lord!" There is that certitude that you are in that Joy without End; where every tear is wiped away. Memory Eternal! Ma Cher Amie, restez en paix avec ton mari dans la royame de Dieu aux ciel!

Antony Gabriel
Great Economos