March 17, 2015
Howell, NJ: Eastern American Diocesan Lenten Retreat continues at Diocesan Center

On 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."

His 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.

The 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 Presanctified Gifts.

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese