Archimandrite Alipiy: In 1988 Filaret asked, "Why do you need that Lavra?"
The Kyiv archimandrite told how the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra was opened, why Filaret was opposed then, and for what reason he refused to renounce St. Sophia Cathedral.
Within the framework of the project "History of the UOC: How It Happened", Archimandrite Alipiy (Svetlichny) told in an interview to Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich about how the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra was revived. This was reported by the Information and Education Department of the UOC.
Archimandry Alipiy says that the process of reviving the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra was initiated by the laity, the youth at that.
“We, the young guys of the Vladimir Cathedral, gathered in a cafe in January 1988 and there began to speculate that the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra should belong to the Church,” says the archimandrite, who was then subdeacon to Filaret. “They shared among themselves that the Danilov Monastery had already been transferred to the Church alongside the Optina Hermitage, so why does no one in Kyiv bother to return the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra?”
In this cafe, we decided to collect signatures in Kyiv on the transfer of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra to the Orthodox Church. “We went to Khreshchatyk, to the October Revolution Square (the current Independence Square – Ed.), to the station, to churches. We collected signatures everywhere. People sincerely responded to our initiative as soon as they found out that we stand for the transfer by the authorities of the Lavra to the Church. Sometimes they even lined up to put their signatures. People were not afraid to do it, they even indicated their places of residence,” said Fr. Alipiy.
In almost two weeks, they managed collected 75,000 votes. And father Alipiy with a friend took these signatures to Moscow. “When we arrived at the place,” says the archimandrite, we went to the Department of Religion. However, he continues, "a woman came to us, took us aside and said, "You don't come here. You’d better go to Leningrad with these signatures to Academician Dmitry Likhachev, and he will help you to settle everything." I went alone to the then Leningrad and Dmitry Likhachev immediately received me. He was on good terms with Raisa Gorbacheva and passed these signatures directly to her."
Father Alipiy says that Filaret knew nothing about the fact that we were collecting signatures. When the KGB told him about this, he called him to the altar during the all-night vigil and said: “What did you collect for signatures there? Why do you need this Lavra? Will you go there?’’ And despite the fact that he had no intention of becoming a monk, Father Alipiy replied that he would go. These words, spoken in the altar of the Vladimir Cathedral, determined the further path of the priest.
The archimandrite also said there was an opportunity to restitute the St. Sophia Cathedral, but Filaret rejected this offer with contempt, referring to the fact that there would be no one to serve there and huge money was needed to maintain this cathedral.
And when the Lavra was being restituted, the former Metropolitan Filaret sent Fr. Alipiy to receive property from museum workers: relics, underground churches, etc.
Archimandrite Alipiy also shared that he had become the first monk of the Lavra. He lived on the territory of the Far Caves: he slept on the floor, in a room with broken windows, without electricity. The Lavra was officially transferred to the Church in June 1988. The documents were drawn up with the current Archimandrite Anthony (Novitsky). Thus, there began the revival of monasticism in Ukraine.
As the UOJ reported, the Abbot of the Lavra spoke about the revival of the Kyiv-Pechersk monastery.