September 13, 2014
Washington: 65th Anniversary of the Parish of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

On the Feast of the Beheading of St. John,  the Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptizer of the Lord, our parish marked the 65th year of its existence.  On that day, September 11, 1949, Holy Hierarch St. John of Shanghai, who was in the nation's capital, Washington, DC, to lobby the American government authorities on behalf of his flock (then finding itself on the Island of Tubabao, in the Philippines), gathered together a group of ROCOR faithful, established their new parish, and in a private home, celebrated the first Divine Liturgy for that parish.  It was Holy Hierarch St. John who chose to name the parish in honor of the Holy Prophet whom he so loved and revered.  After the new church community was created, it gathered together for Sunday and Festal services in a variety of locations.  In 1958, the community acquired a piece of property at the corner of 17th and Shepherd Sts, NW, in the center of Washington.  The parishioners themselves erected a small church building and a rectory.  A major reconstruction project undertaken in 1977  transformed the church into the beautiful 17th Century Muscovite/Yaroslavl-style Cathedral we see today.

This year, on the actual Feastday, August 29/September 11, the Divine Services called for in the rubrics were celebrated.  The following weekend, September 13-14, His Eminence the Very Most Reverend Metropolitan Hilarion, ruling hierarch of the Diocese of Eastern America and New York, visited us and headed the  general parish festivities on the occasion of our Parish Feast.

On September 13, His Eminence celebrated the All-night Vigil.  Concelebrating with him were His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah (former  Primate of the Orthodox Church in America) and our parish clergy.  Two large and experienced choirs – the Church Slavonic Choir under the direction of Yu. A. Petcherkin and the English Choir under the direction of Paula Genis - sang at the Vigil.   Hearing excellent singing by two choirs was not something unusual to our parishioners.  However, faithful who had come from out of town remarked on the  vibrancy of choral performance, and the ease with which transitions from Church Slavonic to English were accomplished.  During the Vigil, parish priests heard the Confessions of all who wished to cleanse themselves of their sins and Commune of the Holy gifts of Christ on the following day.

A number of noteworthy events took place during the Divine Liturgy celebrated on September 14.  At the Sixth Hour, Reader Nikolai Lukianoff, a member of our Parish Council, was elevated to the rank of Subdeacon.  Andrey Skurikhin, Altar server and member of our Parish Council, and Constantine Ogora, a member of the English Choir, were tonsured as Readers.  During the Little Entrance, several clergymen of the Cathedral were honored with Liturgical Awards:  Assistant Priest Fr. John Johnson was granted the right to wear the kamilavka, Priest Alexander Resnikoff – the right to wear the skufia, and Priest Victor Klimenko – the right to wear the nabedrenik [thigh shield].  Deacon Patrick Mitchell was raised to the rank of Protodeacon, and Deacon John Dean was granted the right to  wear the double orarion.

At the Festal Liturgy, a multitude of faithful received Holy Communion, served from five Chalices. 

The Very Most Reverend Metropolitan Hilarion devoted his homily to our church's heavenly patron saint, the Holy Prophet and Forerunner St. John the Baptist.   A video recording of Vladyka's homily is available for viewing at: 

Following the Dismissal, the traditional Moleben and Procession of the Cross took place. At the conclusion of the Procession, there was a pause in the service so that a group photo of the participants in the celebration might be taken.  Thereafter, the Moleben was concluded inside the church.

At the conclusion of the prayerful celebrations, Metropolitan Hilarion thanked the organizers of these festivities for their hospitality.  He presented Dimitry Mikhailovitch Saretsky, Parish Starosta, the Russian Church Abroad's highest award, the Synodal Order of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, 3rd Class.  This year marks Dimitry Mikhailovitch's 25th year of service as Starosta of our Cathedral Parish.  The awarding of such a high honor to our deeply respected Starosta  was a source of joy for all of our parishioners, as everone  knew that he always fulfilled his responsibilities in an exemplary manner. 

As they do at all such festivities, the Parish Sisterhood provided the participants in the celebration an abudant luncheon.  Sister Larissa Leonidova made a festive cake, decorated with an edible photograph of the Cathedral.

During the meal, the Rector appealed to the parishioners to remember to thank the founders, builders, and benefactors of our church community who have departed to a better world, by offering prayers for the repose of their souls.  He also expressed his thanks to our Ruling Archpastor for his memorable visit, and congratulated His Eminence, our Very Most Reverand Vladyka Metropolitan on the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of his Consecration to the Episcopate.  Celebration of that jubilee, together with a celebration of the 80th Anniversary of the founding of the Eastern American Diocese, will take place on November 14-15 in the new Diocesan Center , at the Cathedral of Holy Righteous Great Prince St. Alexander Nevsky in Lakewood, New Jersey.

Having marked the Parish Feast, our parishioners will now begin, with renewed strength, to prepare for October 4-5, when we hold our two-day Parish Benefit Bazaar, an event popular throughout Washington, and after that, for October 25-26, when we will make our annual pilgrimage to Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, to the grave of brother Jose Munoz-Cortes, curator of the Myrrh-streaming “Montreal” Iveron Icon of the Mother of God, who was murdered in 1997.  The pilgrimage will be headed by His Eminence, the Very Most Reverend Metropolitan Hilarion.   The arrival of the «Hawaiian» Iveron Icon of the Mother of God is also expected.

Glory to God for all things!

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese