Memory Eternal, +Father Moses (8/20/50 -1/12/24)
Reflections by Hieromonk Alexii Altschul
One week ago, Fr. Moses Berry, my spiritual father, friend, confidant, and co-struggler, went to be with the Lord. His life and some of his works can be found by clicking here. My departed Matushka Michaila (+3/13/12) and 12 others were led into the Orthodox Faith by him in 1993, with the help of Fr. James Dank.
He and his Matushka Magdalena have been dear to us since that time. The first Orthodox monastery in Missouri was established from land he donated to the nuns back in 1998, that had previously been ancestral property from the 1800s. Since that time he has consistently been a guide and father to me and many others.
He became the first president of the Fellowship of St. Moses the Black, which emerged out of the Ancient Christianity and African American Conferences, where Black Americans have been discovering the riches of Ancient Orthodox Christianity, and Orthodox Christians have been discovering the depth of spiritual treasures from Africa and African Orthodoxy and the Black experience in the Americas.
Fr. Moses with Bishop Neofitos from Kenya at Holy Archangel Michael Skete
Fr. Moses lived as a truly good shepherd in Christ-like fashion. He had a gift to see the good in the person in front of him and helped that person on their way. To the last week of his life, he was ministering and giving out of his suffering to whosoever would come to him. He was the one who kept "laying his life down for the sheep" (John 10)
Matushka Michaila and I were very close to both he and Matushka Magdalena. Because our marriages were a bridge of reconciliation, sometimes people would confuse who went with who! One of the most powerful lessons he taught me was to be 'reconciled to my humanity.' I needed to look at my father, mother, my generations and accept who i am. I needed to realized that each one was doing the best he or she could given their situation and find out what good came out of it. It reminded me of the words of the Lord to Jeremiah, "when you extract the precious from the worthless, then you will be my spokesman' (Jer.15:19 NASB)
As he buried Matushka Michaila, we were present to bury him in the same cemetery on the 16th of January, 2024. Archbishop Daniel of the Orthodox Church of America presided. 14 priests, including two abbots, and one deacon served at this funeral service. Another three priests were in attendance. Over these days 40 liturgies will be served by priests who loved him across this country and abroad. Memory Eternal, Fr. Moses. With the saints give rest O Lord to the soul of Thy servant.
This is an icon of Christ the Good Shepherd from the St. Moses the Black Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh, PA, where Fr. Moses received the pectoral cross by Archbishop Daniel in 2022 at the St. Moses the Black Conference.