On May 31, after considerable pressure from the West--including the personal intercession of President Reagan--the Soviets finally released Orthodox Christian Vassily Shipilov (see OA #78). He had spent 36 years--over half his life--in prisons, concentration camps and psychiatric hospitals where he had been forcibly treated with drugs for his "anti-social" behavior, i.e., his unyielding faith in God.
Given permission to emigrate, Shipilov left for England on June 17 for a visit with Anglican minister Dick Rodgers who had long campaigned for his release, before confirming his journey here to the US where, according to his wish, he has settled in Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, N.Y. Although Shipilov speaks very little, his presence is in itself a special contribution to the community. An American convert living near the monastery writes that meeting Vassily was a very moving experience:
"At 60 years he looks much older. He's physically crippled with a slight limp, and mentally he appears confused. We were told that he doesn't realize that he's now free. When asked to come out of his room he sometimes responds: 'I can't; they won't let me; the door is locked.' But although awkward and cut off from 'normal' communication with people, his faith in God is full and strong. He is one of the most spiritually edifying people I've ever met. He is constantly making the sign of the Cross--very deliberately, reverently. He has been so humbled, almost destroyed; it is as though nothing is left in him but the constant remembrance of God, I am reminded of St. Paul' s comforting words: "nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ…”
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