Reminicences of Protodeacon Nicholai Triantafillidis by his daughter Anastasia read on the day of his funeral October 6th, 2015:
First of all, I would like to thank every single person who came today to help us bury our beloved Papa. It is so very comforting to know how much everyone loved him, so thank you! Being the oldest of his children, I decided it would be appropriate to say a few words about our Papa.
The whole 14-hour plane trip here, I tried to think of a particular memory I had of him that I could share with you all. It's hard to just pick one, so I'll just share with you all the great memories that made Papa who he was.
Just recently on the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, Papa celebrated the 23rd anniversary of his ordination to the diaconate. Many of you who knew him, knew how much he loved to serve. He used his voice to praise God, and following his example, I have been singing in church for over 13 years now. The echo of his voice would vibrate the walls of any church, and no matter the size of the church, would still do his best. One of Papa's role models, his namesake, Protodeacon Nikolai Porshnikoff (Memory Eternal) was another great deacon who had a beautiful voice. Papa strived to serve like Father Nikolai, many times listening to recordings of him at home. We would always hear stories of Father Nikolai and his love for the church, and I truly believe Papa followed in his footsteps. Whenever we would try to compare papa to Father Nikolai, he would immediately shoot us down saying that he didn't even compare to him. With this example of his humility, we can all agree that Papa stands equal with Protdeacon Nikolai and all the other great deacons of our church. Even throughout his treatment, Papa would try to serve as much as possible, and up until the end, he would tell me how the chemotherapy had changed his voice and it would never be the same. But that did not stop him from doing what he loved the most. It was sad to see how much it upset him, but I am still so proud that he did the very best that he could. Every church service will feel empty to me without his voice, but I know he is watching over us in the heavenly choir.
From a young age, Papa instilled in us love for our Faith and the Church. Every Saturday, Sunday and Feast Day we would go to church together as a family. When I had first started singing in the choir in Strathfield Cathedral in Australia, Papa would take me early to church and we would drive together, while Mama stayed with the boys who were still too young to last a whole service. One car ride, I was tired and reluctant to get to church early so I asked Papa why I had to come early to church rather than stay at home with Mama. He answered that we were going to greet God and that we need to greet Him, and not let Him greet us. Because of this, I always make an effort to come before the service starts and always feel anxious if I am running late. Since I've been in Australia, I most often called him after church to discuss which church I attended, who of the clergy served that passed on their regards to him and how the service went overall. Those were our weekly phone calls - discussing services and choir rehearsals and reminiscing on times when he had served in those churches with those clergymen.
Just the other day, Mama told us a story that so perfectly portrays Papa's love for church. His first assignment was at the Church of all Russian Saints in Croydon at the Archbishop's chapel. It was an All-night Vigil, and Mama had taken the then-1-year-old me out to the car to feed me. As she was sitting in the car, another car had turned the corner too sharply and hit the car in front of us. Startled, Mama ran inside church during the Great Doxology, walked to the side door and tried to signal to Papa to come out. As she explained to him what had happened, he cut her short and said "What do you want me to do? Stop the service for you?" And that's exactly right - I can't imagine Papa going out during service out in his vestments to check on a car that had almost been hit. Safe to say, during the ride home Mama got an earful. This just proves how church was his number one priority.
Papa also constantly reminded us how important it was to preserve our Russian heritage; that no matter where we live Russia was our home, and to always hold on to our language and tradition. Saturday nights after All-night Vigil, he would sometimes put on the live-stream of the Divine Services at Christ the Saviour Church in Moscow for that day. We would sit together and watch the Divine Service as Papa would describe to us the inner parts of the church. Four years ago, he took Antony and me on our first trip to Russia, where he made sure we got to see Christ the Saviour Church in all its awe and splendour - as with many of the other churches in Russia. He was then able to take Terence a couple years later as well. When we first made it to Russia, I finally understood the feeling of Russia as our homeland. I am so grateful to him for taking us on that trip, as we got to pray at many holy sites together. In total, Papa made it to Russia 5 times and made many friends on all his pilgrimages with his kind and loving spirit. I am thankful to all those who prayed for him, and continue to pray for him. It really has been eye opening for me - I finally began to see and appreciate how intricately connected our Orthodox community is through this chapter in our lives.
Papa always had a positive outlook on life, knowing everything was up to God. One year, on Antony’s Birthday, Papa caught his finger in the rotating blade of the wood saw we had at home when we were remodeling. He calmly stopped and asked “Antosha” to call 911. As the paramedics were putting Papa into the ambulance, we were obviously very emotional. So, he put up his good hand and showed us thumbs up - that everything would be okay. And truly, everything turned out okay. Fast-forward a couple of years and Antosha had broken his arm playing football. Papa took him to the hospital and as the nurses put him under, they explained that Antosha would not remember anything. They decided to think of something to say or do to prove that he could remember something. Papa suggested thumbs up and lo and behold, Antosha woke up from the anesthesia and saw his father sitting next to the hospital bed and immediately showed papa the thumbs up. Papa just smiled and told him "now its time to go home." Even when papa was diagnosed with his cancer he always stayed positive telling us everything would be okay with him. Papa continually worried for all of us, and what would happen when he would have to go. He doesn't need to worry about us, because all your love and support these past couple of days shows that he left us in good hands.