Thomas F. O'Neill
The Boris Strobonoff Story
Father Ivan’s life was devoted to his church and his Catholic faith and he always considered himself to be a rational person even though some of his family members questioned the choice he made in becoming a priest.
It was sometime in 1930 that he was assigned to his first parish and he felt a little wet behind the ears. However, he was extremely popular among the parishioners who recognized immediately his compassion and devotion to the needs of others. He visited their homes, he attended to the sick, and he administered the last rights to the dying; but most of all the Children loved the attention he gave them after the Sunday services. He appeared to be understanding in the confessional as he listened and consoled the parishioners as they confessed their sins. He was not harsh or judgmental in what he heard and the young ladies in the parish seemed curious and went out of their way to learn all they could about him.
It was late on a warm September evening, that Father Ivan was closing up the church and looking forward to a good night's sleep after a long and tiring day. He heard a frantic knock on the church door and when he opened the door he saw a young man standing there, dressed very strangely. Father Ivan thought to himself what an odd way to dress and he invited the young man inside the church to find out what was bothering him.
“I am Boris Strobonoff,” said the man in a strong Russian accent.
He seemed to be very frightened and confused as he stood in the church and looked around as if he were seeing the church for the first time. He told the priest that he was supposed to be married earlier that day. Father Ivan told him that there were no marriages scheduled today.
He told the Priest that he was running late to meet Elaina the girl he is supposed to marry and as he was running across the street everything went blank and he became disoriented and confused. He went on to say that nothing looks the same and he can’t find Elaina or his family.
“What is Elaina’s last name, Boris?” Father Ivan asked him.
“Bronotov, Ellaina Bronotov,” Boris responded in a frantic voice.
Father Ivan was convinced that there was something terribly wrong with the young man and he asked him to wait in the Church.
“I must find her, Father, and I must find my Family,” he yelled at the Priest.
“I will help you; wait here the other Priests are asleep,” said Father Ivan.
Father Ivan went into the rectory to see if there was a family registered in the parish with Boris’s last name or the last name of Boris’s fiancée. Father Ivan could not find any names in the Parish registry that came close to the names that were given to him by that strange young man. When he went back to the Church, the young man was gone so he locked up the Church and went to bed.
The next morning he told Father Evans, the pastor of the Church, of his experience with Boris Strobonoff.
“Oh him,” said Father Evans as he was drinking his morning coffee with two of his brother Priests at the dinning room table.
“He comes here every year around the same time,” said Father O’Connor, a fellow Priest.
“He is some sort of kook,” said Father Evans.
“This Boris Strobonoff said that he was supposed to get married in our Church,” said Father Ivan.
“I have been here twenty years he doesn’t belong to this Parish,” said Father Evans.
“He comes here every year around this time, no one knows him or even heard of the Strobonoff Family,” said Father O’Connor.
Later that day Father Ivan decided to search the parish records once again. He went as far back in the Church records as possible with the hope of finding some record of a Strobonoff or a Bronotov Family. The young Priest, to his amazement, discovered that the young Boris Strobonoff had also been seen by other priests on or about September 3rd during the last two centuries.
Father Ivan continued in his search, he came upon the name of Boris Strobonoff with a notation next to the name which says:
“On Boris Strobonoff’s wedding day, as he was running across the street to get to his wedding on time, he was trampled to death by a runaway horse.”
Father Ivan also found among the death records that Boris Strobonoff was buried on September 3, 1830; and that he was a Russian immigrant and that his funeral was paid for by his friends, family, and his fiancée Ellaina Bronotov, who was also a native of Russia.
Father Ivan also discovered that Ellaina Bronotov later married a Victor Igo and her Great-Grandchildren are members of the Parish. Ellaina Bronotov, later known as Mrs. Ellaina Igo was born in 1806 and died in 1888. She is buried in the Parish cemetery; also buried there is her former fiancé Boris Strobonoff (1805-1830).
Father Ivan quickly ran up the stairs tripping over himself to tell Father Evans of his amazing discovery. Upon hearing the news Father Evans blessed himself and said, “So the young man is a Parishioner after all -- who would have known.”
Thomas F. O’Neill
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