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Русская Версия

March 21, 2010
Jackson, NJ: Bishop Jerome celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Protection of the Mother of God Church on the 50th anniversary of the repose of Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko)

av2.jpg (55615 bytes)Sunday, March 21, marked the 50th anniversary of the repose of the ever-memorable Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko), formerly of Eastern America and Jersey City. In the lower Protection of the Mother of God Church of St. Vladimir Memorial Church in Jackson, NJ, parishioners and other faithful gathered to prayerfully honor the memory of this great hierarch and unshakable pillar of the Church Abroad. On the right side of the church, there is an inscription on the wall written by Archbishop Vitaly during the church’s construction: "Here is the grave of Archbishop Vitaly." Below the inscription, in accordance with the spiritual testament of Vladyka Vitaly, is his tomb, beautifully erected out of white marble. In the narthex of the church, an exhibition of photographs and valuables connected with the history of this magnificent church, founded by Vladyka Vitaly. The ever-memorable Vladyka dedicated many years of his life to the creation of a Russian spiritual and social center on Vladimir’s Mount in Jackson. On the day of the laying of the cornerstone of St. Vladimir’s Church, Vladyka turned to the faithful with remarkable words that touched the soul of every Russian émigré, entered the history of the Church Abroad, and reverberate down to this very day under the domes of this church:

Even so now we who are but a small branch of our nation of countless millions, a branch cast across the oceans, have gathered here in free America as American citizens to lay in our adopted country the cornerstone of a memorial church in commemoration of our thousand-year old Russian Orthodox religion and our richly varied Russian culture, so that we and our descendants may always remember the basis on which we stand and the root from which we have sprung… Let us cling firmly to the Orthodox faith of our fathers. Let us remember the land of our origin. And for generations to come let us cherish and develop our Russian culture, so that it may contribute its due share to the spiritual treasure house of America.

av.jpg (17535 bytes)It is impossible to measure the enormous contribution of Archbishop Vitaly to the creation of the Church Abroad and our Diocese. He was one of the most distinguished archpastors of our Church and the founder of Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville. Everyone can familiarize themselves with the life of Vladyka Vitaly by reading the presentation of Deacon Andrei Psarev, dedicated to this 50th anniversary.

The parishioners in Jackson revere Archbishop Vitaly with special love, as they do his disciple, Archbishop Nikon (Rklitsky), who continued the mission and work of Vladyka Vitaly in constructing the memorial church, and is also buried in the lower church, opposite his spiritual father. The tomb of Vladyka Vitaly was widely adorned with flowers, and on it were placed copies of his portrait, spiritual will, and sermon on the day of the laying of the cornerstone of the memorial church. His Grace, Bishop Jerome of Manhattan, arrived in Jackson to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on the day of the anniversary. His Grace was co-served by the rector of the Protection of the Mother of God Church, Archpriest Philip Petrovsky, diocesan secretary Archpriest Serge Lukianov, deputy rector of the memorial church Priest Serge Ledkovsky, and Protodeacon Dimitri Temidis. Upon completion of the service, His Grace delivered a sermon to the faithful.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!

"Whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant," said Jesus Christ after the Apostles John and his brother James asked through their mother to sit at His side on the Throne of Glory, not understanding what they were asking. Dear brothers and sister, we pray over the entire course of Great Lent: A spirit of idleness, despondency, ambition, and idle talk give me not.  And three of these evil traits, namely idleness, despondency, and idle talk, bring harm principally to us ourselves. Of course, idle talk, when it takes the form of vile rumors, can be to everyone’s misfortune. But ambition especially, which manifests itself in today’s Gospel reading, does major damage to the Holy Church. This is because either one person takes much on himself, abrasively stating his position while others oppose, but fear to speak out; or because everyone wishes to be first and chaos reigns as a result.

And so, in either case, this harms Church life. And how many examples of this have we experienced, how many unpleasant occurrences in the Church, because everyone wants to be in charge, or because someone has achieved and is abusing his power? Love of power is a very serious vice. And we especially feel this in the Church hierarchy. Back in the years when I was here with Archbishop Nikon (God rest his soul!), I remember that Vladyka Vitaly, buried here, appeared to me in a dream. The following morning, I told Vladyka Nikon, and he seemed to immediately understand something that I did not. And he said that Vladyka Vitaly had appeared to me, no doubt to return and restore order in the Church. This is because Vladyka Nikon, that brilliant, great hierarch, also felt that everyone wished to be in charge, and as a result Church order suffered.

But if we can state that he who wishes to be first must be a servant to all, then we can also state the opposite: he who wishes to be a servant to all much strive to be first. In what sense? When people rise against the order in the Church, it is, of course, easy to say that it is not our fault when we can’t get anything done as a result. But we can indeed serve God and if we put forward everything true, all the canons and Church order, put it all in a place of primacy; it is possible despite any opposition, despite any filth, despite any vile rumors spread in the Church, despite the fact that everyone wants to be first, to achieve something nevertheless.

And Vladyka Vitaly of holy memory, whom we commemorate today, was a shining example of this. How many sufferings did he endure, how much persecution, how many unpleasant events? But nevertheless, despite all that, he achieved great things; thanks principally to him, we have our diocese here. Thanks to what he started and saw through, and thanks to his prayers in this life and, I am sure, in the next, we have this magnificent St. Vladimir Memorial Church, where we all prayed together today. By his example we can manage and overcome those situations when it seems that everything has gone wrong and order in the Church has vanished. Vladyka Vitaly is returning, not physically, but spiritually, especially when he guides us by his example, thereby guiding and establishing order in the Holy Church. Amen.

av50.lg.jpg (56575 bytes)After the Liturgy, His Grace led a panihida at the tomb of Archbishop Vitaly, co-served by the above-mentioned clergy and the dean of New Jersey, Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov. Also praying during the panihida was Deacon Nathan Mousselli (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Lakewood, NJ). After the panihida, a commemorative luncheon was offered in the parish hall for all in attendance. During the luncheon, the dean, Fr. Valery Lukianov, and Fr. Serge Lukianov said several words in memory of Vladyka Vitaly. Fr. Serge spoke of the importance of continuing Archbishop Vitaly’s work in our diocese, and Fr. Valery shared his personal memories of Vladyka as our ruling hierarch, as rector of Holy Trinity Monastery, and as a humble monk. May the Lord God grant rest to the soul of the ever-memorable Archbishop of Eastern America and Jersey City Vitaly.

Photographs of Archbishop Vitaliy

Photo-report of the 50th Anniversary

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese