"American Father" - Family of Ten Moves to Russia

A little over two years ago, an American priest brought his wife and eight children to Russia, starting their new life in a land where Orthodox churches are on every corner, and where the only legal marriages are traditional marriages, between one man and one woman.

In this 3-1/2 minute preview of an upcoming mini-documentary, TOK Media introduces viewers to the Gleason family. What is it like for a family of ten to leave America, move to Russia, and live in a snowy town that looks like an ancient fairytale? A full video transcript, in English, is included below.


Subtitles (in Russian):

— American Father —

Fr. Joseph Gleason, from America, is an Orthodox priest. A little over two years ago he moved to Russia, together with his wife and eight children.

Fr. Joseph:

I came here, expecting that there are a lot of people that are serious about the Faith. They are kind people, they are good people, they are friendly. They are serious about going to church and living their lives for Christ in a real way.


If someone had told me twenty years ago that I would be living in Russia, with eight kids, and married to a priest, I would have told them they were crazy.

Subtitles (in Russian):

Fr. Joseph's family lives according to a strict schedule.

Fr. Joseph:

Every morning, we get up around 6:30. We pray together as a family, we have time at the table for breakfast, and we have time for reading lives of the Saints.

Every day, we go out and walk close to four kilometers (about 2 miles). And then three days out of the week, we also do some basic exercises — some lightweight squats, lunges, pushups and planks.

Monday through Saturday, Amy and the kids go into the prayer room — and that's also their school room. We have lunch together as a family. And usually in the afternoon there's a little bit more free time. In the evening, I also do some additional work on the computer.

Subtitles (in Russian):

Fr. Joseph's children have always been homeschooled.

Fr. Joseph:

Because we are so intimately involved with it, they are actually able to get more work done in a shorter amount of time, and we are even able to push them to do additional work, because we know what they are capable of doing.

Subtitles (in Russian):

For two years, the whole family has been actively studying the Russian language.

Kimberly Gleason (speaking in Russian):

It is still difficult now. But it's easier than it was, because the more you practice speaking Russian, the better you are able to speak it. 

Subtitles (in Russian):

But the most difficult trial for this family was neither the cold weather, nor the language barrier . . .

Fr. Joseph:

A month after we moved here, I was diagnosed with a certain form of cancer, and instead of spending the summer taking my kids to see different sights like I was hoping, I spent most of the summer in a hospital in Moscow, getting chemo, and throwing my guts up. 

Thankfully, I got through the chemo. The doctor said they can't find any trace of the cancer. That is a huge blessing! We are very grateful for that.

Fr. Roman (in Russian):

He needs to learn the Russian language, fully understand Church Slavonic, and receive either citizenship or permanent residency, in order to be officially received into our diocese, or wherever the Lord will grant.

Subtitles (in Russian):

The family is building a large log home in a nearby village. They are serious about moving to Russia, and they plan on staying for a long time.

Fr. Joseph:

I want my children to be able to raise their families — once they get married and have their own kids — in a place where they can be Christians in peace, and I believe that can happen here in Russia. I think you can live as a Christian, faithfully, in Russia, and be left in peace. And that's really the reason why we moved.


Fr. Joseph & Amy with several of their children, and one of the kids' friends