Sergei Garklavs

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V. Rev. Sergei Garklavs (20 December 1927-19 October 2015) was a priest in the Orthodox Church of America and served in the parishes of Protection of the Virgin Mary Church in Gary, Indiana, St. Panteleimon Church in Summit, Illinois, and then Holy Trinity Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois. He is the adopted son of Archbishop John (Garklavs) of Chicago, and assisted him in saving the Theotokos of Tikhvin icon from the hands of the Soviets and Nazis during World War II and its aftermath. After Archbishop John reposed in 1982, Fr. Sergei was the icon's caretaker until its return to Russia in 2004.


V. Rev. Sergei Garklavs was born Sergei Georgivich Kozhevnikov (Сергей Георгиевич Кожевников in Russian) on December 20, 1927 in Ventspils, Latvia. As a teenager, he was adopted by Archbishop John, who was then the Bishop of Riga. In 1944, Bishop John was forced out of Latvia, along with a small group of Latvian priests. Bishop John left with Fr. Sergei and his mother. Before arriving in the United States in 1949, they spent time in Czechoslovakia and West Germany. Fr. Sergei was essential in the safe transport of the Theotokos of Tikhvin icon, which had come into the Bishop's possession in Riga.

He met & married Alexandra Iovina, and then became a deacon, serving in the Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection from 1950-1957. In 1957, he was elevated to the rank of priest. Matushka Alexandra died in 2005.

Theotokos of Tikhvin icon

From the time he was a teenager, Fr. Sergei was essential in the safekeeping of the Theotokos of Tikvin icon, first as he and Bishop John travelled through Europe as displaced persons during and after World War II, and then afterwards in the United States. Bishop John vowed that the icon would return to Russia only when it was a place safe enough for the icon and for Orthodox believers. After Bishop John's repose in 1982, Fr. Sergei continued on with this task, with the icon alternately being kept at his home in Chicago or displayed at Holy Trinity Cathedral. In 2004, with the near completion of the restoration of the monastery where the icon had formerly been housed, Fr. Sergei agreed that the time was ready for the icon to make its return. Fr. Sergei accompanied the icon for the journey.


Fr. Sergei was priest at the following Churches

  • Protection of the Virgin Mary Church - Gary (now Merrillville), Indiana (1957-1960)
  • St. Panteleimon - Argo (Summit), Illinois, (1960–1983)
  • Holy Trinity Cathedral - Chicago (1983–1999)


For Further Reading