March 17, 2015
Howell, NJ: Eastern American Diocesan Lenten Retreat continues at
Tuesday, March 17, the Lenten Retreat of clergy and matushkas of the
Eastern American Diocese opened with a moleben in St. Alexander
Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ. Prior to the start of the moleben,
His Grace George, Bishop of Mayfield, greeted the myrrh-streaming
Icon of the Mother of God "Softener of Evil Hearts," visiting from
Russia. The icon was greeted by clergy and standard-bearers.
The moleben was then served before the holy myrrh-streaming icon, at
the conclusion of which Bishops George and Nicholas of Manhattan
read aloud a
greeting in English and Russian sent by Metropolitan
Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, addressed to the retreat’s
participants. The First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad
reminded the clergy that, every year, the days of Great Lent gather
them together "to receive salvific counsel, a deeper inspection of
our souls, brotherly interaction and, most importantly, liturgical
communion at God’s altar table," and noted that "our Lenten journey
is not one of despondency and deep sorrow. Instead, it is a time of
spiritual renewal, in which repentance gains us forgiveness, begets
hope, fortifies our faith, and leads us to eternal life."
Eminence wished all of the participants of the ongoing retreat the
renewal of their spiritual strengths, an inclination toward prayer,
inner peace, fortitude, and humility in bearing the labors of Great
Lent and in joyously greeting Christ’s Glorious Resurrection.
Bishop George of Mayfield greeted the participants and called them
all to spend the time of the conference salvifically, in repentance
and brotherly interaction.
Eastern American Diocesan secretary Archpriest Serge Lukianov told
the clergy about the history of one of the first churches of the
Diocese – St. Alexander Nevsky (and later Tikhvin) Church, and the
new cathedral built across the street, which this past September
became the Diocesan See. Fr. Serge directed the attention of those
gathered to an antique cross from 1812 Russia, which included the
pieces of 24 relics and a piece of the Lord’s True Cross. The cross
is brought out every year during Great Lent, on the Sunday of the
Cross, for veneration by the faithful and for their spiritual
fortification. The pastors and matushkas venerated the holy cross
and icon, and Bishop George blessed them all with holy water.
Lenten Retreat is being held for the first time at the new Diocesan
Center, which was opened last September. During the conference,
clergy and matushkas had an opportunity to breakfast in the new
Nevsky’s Café, opened in the cathedral hall.
Archimandrite Demetrios (Carellas), chaplain at Nativity of the
Mother of God Greek Convent in Saxonburg, PA, began the work of the
retreat with a talk on the role of faith in the labors of the Holy
Fathers. Fr. Demetrios also included many instances of the salvific
power of the Orthodox Faith from his own personal life and many
years of spiritual experience. In a panel discussion after lunch,
the gathered diocesan clergy actively discussed many pastoral and
practical matters facing the Church today.
That evening, the archpastors and clergy served an akathist before
the holy icon of the Mother of God "Softener of Evil Hearts,"
followed by Matins. Also read was the prayer rule for Holy
Communion. Upon completion of Matins, the clergy and matushkas had
an opportunity to make a full confession, in order to commune of
Christ’s Holy Mysteries on the following day at the Liturgy of the
Media Office of the Eastern