Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When is the Cathedral opened for visiting?
A: Besides the services themselves, the Cathedral is presently opened all day seven days a week.
Q: How long are the services?
A: Regular evening services that consist of Vespers and Matins (on non-feastdays) typically last 90 minutes or so. Saturday Night Vigil or other Feast evening services are approximately 2-3 hours. Daily Liturgy (morning service) lasts 90 minutes or so, Sunday mornings there are two Liturgies: Early is at 7:30-9:45am and the Late at 9:45am. The Late Liturgy will normally last until 12:00pm-12:30pm. Please refer to the monthly calendar of services published on our site (See "Schedule -> Services" for links to the PDF files).
Q: I received a blessing from my spriritual father to receive Holy Communion at your Cathedral, but haven't had Confession recently. Can I still have Holy Communion?
A: It is the tradition in the Russian Orthodox Church to have Confession prior to Holy Communion (1-5 days beforehand). It is expected that all those who wish to receive the Holy Gifts at our Cathedral adhere to this rule.
Don't be surprised if you come up to the Holy Chalice and the Priest, not recognizing you, asks when you last had Confession. If the answer to the question of when you last had Confession isn't recent enough then you should not expect the Priest to allow you to have Communion (regardless of your spiritual father's blessing).
Q: How does one go to confession at the Cathedral? How is this organized?
A: Confession is required to have Holy Communion. You should have confession the night before you plan to have Holy Communion. Please come for the start of the service or earlier. All evening services at the cathedral begin at 6pm unless otherwise stated (see Calendar of services).
Confession for the extremely elderly or ill can be heard on the actual day of the Liturgy (if the priest has time) preferably before Liturgy starts and with prior arrangement with the serving priest.
To have your confession heard see if you have a chance to greet the priest as he arrives for the service at the cathedral. Get a blessing from the priest and introduce yourself. Tell him you wish to have confession. He will then direct you accordingly.
If you have arrived late to the service, it is best if you put off your confession for another time.
Stand near the very front of the church on the far left side or the far right side (near the bottom of the stairs). Wait there for the priest to come out. While you are waiting please watch out for the clergy censing the church during the servive. Try to step away from where they are walking. Also, while you are waiting for the priest to come out and you have small children, please ensure they are with someone that can look after them while you have confession.
The priest may not be able to come out to hear your confession right away. There are moments when he needs to serve. Once he is ready he will step out of the altar and will motion for you to approach. You can then go up the stairs to the priest and begin your confession.
Q: What language is used for your services?
A: Most services at the Cathedral are in Church Slavonic language. We will use English on Sunday Liturgies and Feasts for the Epistle and Gospel reading. Ocassionally a Litany or two will be said in English as well. Once a month (See "Schedule -> Services"), typically the last Sunday of the month, the Early Liturgy is in English.
Q: Do you offer an Agape Meal after Liturgy on Sundays?
A: On certain days, for example, Easter, Parish Feastday, Saint John's Feastday there is a meal (trapeza) open to all visitors. Outside of that there are certain Sunday Luncheons that are Fundraisers for the various schools and organizations associated with the Cathedral. Usually there will be a sign/poster hanging on the gates near the stairs going down to the Parish halls (viewable from the street) that will advertise the event. We are working to publish these dates on our web site under "Events" in the near future.
Q: Does the Cathedral offer accomodation for pilgrims?
A: Unfortunately, the Cathedral is not currently in a position to help out with accomodations. It is up to each pilgrim to find their own accomodations.
Q: Where are the closest hotels/motels in the area?
A: There are many hotels located in the Union Square area as well as on Lombard street. These are fairly busy and noisy parts of the city. These two locations are closer and somewhat quieter:
Geary Parkway Motel - 4750 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118
Seal Rock Inn - 545 Point Lobos Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94121-1499
Check out the section "Visitor Information -> Places to Stay" for more details.
Q: Where can I park my car?
A: Please be aware that most of the parking around the cathedral is metered. Sundays and Public Holidays are the only days when you do not need to pay the meter. DO NOT PARK YOUR CAR IN SOMEONES DRIVEWAY OR BLOCK THE DRIVEWAY. Also please be aware of the Street cleaning schedule posted on street signs. Parking at the front of the catehdral is reserved for clergy, etc. Please obey all local traffic/parking rules. You will be ticketed if you do not.
Q: Which public transport should I use?
A: SF Muni bus lines that are closest to the Catehdral are #38, #38L and #29. If coming from the Airport (SFO or Oakland) and you don't have a car rental you can take BART to Embarcadero Station in SF and then take the SF Muni bus #38 or #38L to 25th and Geary. Walk one block to the west to the Cathedral from there.
Google Transit Planner: http://www.google.com/intl/en/landing/transit/#mdy
SF Muni: http://www.sfmta.com/cms/home/sfmta.php
Q: How should I dress?
Athletic shorts, cutoffs, and spandex shorts are never appropriate church wear (for children or adults). Shoes should be clean and tidy. No T-shirts with any kind of excessive writing on them ("This Bud's for You!" is definitely not acceptable).
Dresses should be modest. No tank tops or strapless dresses that would expose the back or low cut at the front. No mini-skirts. Skirts should be at knee or lower. If women wear pants to church, even though this is not preferred, should be dress pants (not jeans or leggins, etc.). Shorts of any type are not acceptable. Head coverings should be worn.
Coat and tie are not mandatory, shirts should have collars and should be buttoned to the collar (the actual collar button can be left undone, but two or three buttons undone is inappropriate). Torn jeans, with patches and loose fitting are not acceptable. No T-shirts or shorts.
Q: How can I become an official parish member?
A: Review the details here:
then fill out the membership form here:
( http://www.sfsobor.com/Parish_Application.pdf )
Q: How can I volunteer my time to help the Cathedral?
A: Approach any one of the priests or deacons prior to or after any of the services. Or just contact them via telephone or email.