September 13, 2014
Howell, NJ: On its Patronal Feast Day, St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral see Opening of Eastern American Diocesan Center

On Thursday the 11th and Friday the 12th of September, St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Howell, NJ hosted celebrations in honor of its patronal feast day, as well as the official opening of the Eastern American Diocesan Center. The celebratory divine services were held in the presence of the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora – the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God. The festal All-Night Vigil and Divine Liturgy were led by His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, co-served by His Eminence Gabriel, Archbishop of Montreal & Canada, His Grace, Eastern American Diocesan Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, and a multitude of clergy.

The divine services were adorned by the festal choir of the Patriarch Tikhon Russian-American Music Institute, under the direction of Maestro Vladimir Gorbik – choir director at the Moscow Representation Church (Metochion) of Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Monastery (Russia). The choir operates in large part thanks to benefactor Alexis Lukianov, and is comprised of some of the best singers from various Orthodox jurisdictions in the USA. The All-Night Vigil in St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was sung by the choir’s male component, under the direction of Gorbik and Reader Nicholas Kotar (Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville), while the Divine Liturgy was sung by a mixed festal choir, comprised of cathedral choristers, the PaTRAM choir, and a quartet from Holy Trinity Seminary, who came to the feast with the blessing of the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad.

Upon completion of the Liturgy, Metropolitan Hilarion congratulated all those who bear the name Alexander on the occasion of their namesday, as well as the cathedral’s clergy and parishioners on the occasion of their patronal feast day and their longtime labors on behalf of the parish and the Holy Church. In honor of their 60 years of marriage, His Eminence awarded Protopresbyter Valery and Matushka Irina Lukianov the medal "For Love & Fidelity." This medal was established in the Russian Federation in honor of the Holy Saints Peter & Febronia of Murom, who lived their earthly lives in love and fidelity for one another and the Holy Church. As the attendant gramota proclaims, "The family of Fr. Valery and Matushka Irina Lukianov is renowned not only in the Russian Diaspora, but even in their historic homeland of Russia. For the clergy and laity of the Eastern American Diocese of the Russian Church Abroad, they were and remain an example for all, both in their service and in their family life."

For his many years of labor in the parish, cathedral warden Alexander V. Levitsky was presented the Russian Church Abroad’s highest award – the Synodal Order of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, 3rd Class. For their many contributions, Mikhail and Svetlana Khrapko and Roman Serebrennikov were awarded diocesan gramotas.

A directive was then read aloud, according to which, from September 12, 2014, the Eastern American Diocesan Center will begin its work at St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral; the cathedral will become the See of the Ruling Bishop of the Eastern American Diocese, bearing the name "diocesan cathedral;" its rector will be His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York. Fr. Valery Lukianov’s request to retire is honored; from henceforth, he bears the title "pastor emeritus," and will continue to serve, hear confessions, and instruct clergy and parishioners. The cathedral’s dean and administration is diocesan secretary Archpriest Serge Lukianov. The clergy and parishioners then processed around the cathedral.

Upon completion of the divine services, a festal luncheon was held in the parish hall, during which many warms words were spoken in honor of Fr. Valery and Matushka Irina Lukianov. His Grace, Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, Fr. Valery’s spiritual son and guardian of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, presented the cathedral with one of the sewn covers (riza) of the wonderworking icon, which had been prepared and presented for the icon in 2009, when it began its first visit to the city of Kursk and across the dioceses of Russia. On the eve of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral’s patronal feast, the cover began to emit a sweet fragrance. Fr. Valery’s role as a link and bridge to the Church Abroad’s glorious past and her present, as well as a good pastor and wise spiritual instructor, were underscored by Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal & Canada, the deans of New York City and the South – Archpriests Alexander Belya and Victor Potapov, Priest Seraphim Chemodakov (cathedral cleric), Eastern American Diocesan Media Office director and Fr. Valery’s grandson Reader Peter Lukianov, and the pastor emeritus’ spiritual children. In his farewell address, Fr. Valery spoke on the years of his service in the parish, and made mention of all those who are dear to him and whom he commemorates in his prayers.

On the feast day of St. Alexander Nevsky, a multitude of clergy and faithful gathered for the celebrations in Howell, where they had an opportunity to pray together at the start of a good and God-pleasing endeavor – the opening of a new Diocesan Center – and interact with one another during and after the luncheon.

Photographs:     All-Night Vigil     Divine Liturgy

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese