March 30, 2016
Howell, NJ: Second Day of Lenten Retreat for Diocesan Clergy
Tuesday, March 29, the Lenten Retreat for clergy and matushkas of
the Eastern American Diocese continued at the Diocesan Center. The
myrrh-streaming Icon of the Mother of God "Softener of Evil Hearts"
arrived at St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral; the presence of
the wonderworking image during the lenten retreat has become a
tradition and a great comfort for all those who gather at the
Moleben before the Beginning of Any Good Work was served before the
icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. Greeting those gathered,
Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York – who is leading
the retreat – said, in part: "The Lord is merciful unto us, and we
thank Him for the opportunity to gather together there. We, pastors,
must nourish our flock and our spiritual children and must therefore
ourselves abide in a lofty spiritual state. At our annual lenten
retreats, we have an opportunity to confess our sins and to receive
edification and spiritual fortification for the labors that lie
Eminence thanked the clergy, church laborers, and matushkas who, in
the difficult circumstances of the hostile modern world, labor
sincerely for the good of the Holy Church and the Orthodox Christian
living in America. The Metropolitan wished them all a pious life,
health, and spiritual and physical strength in serving the Holy
Diocesan secretary Archpriest Serge Lukianov responded to the First
Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad and the Diocese’s ruling
bishop; Fr. Serge expressed the shared joy at Metropolitan
Hilarion’s recent return from the Diocese of Australia & New
Zealand, where His Eminence, also as ruling bishop, had spent almost
three months on an archpastoral visit. "We marvel at how much love
the Lord gives us; we perceive this love, and this love has gathered
us together today."
Fr. Serge congratulated Metropolitan Hilarion on the recent 40th
anniversary of his ordination as a clergyman, and on behalf of the
Diocese presented him with an embroidered blue (Theotokion) cover
for the hierarchal service book.
Hilarion offered his sincere thanks for the gift, after which all
those gathered venerated the "Softener of Evil Hearts" Icon.
Metropolitan Hilarion then blessed everyone with holy water, while
Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan anointed them all with myrrh from the
Conference participants then proceeded to Nevsky’s Café for a light
In the church hall, Fr. Serge presented the lenten retreat’s main
speaker – Archimandrite Irenei (Steenberg). Fr. Irenei is the
founder of Sts. Cyril & Athanasius of Alexandria Institute
for Orthodox Studies in
San Francisco, currently home to 40 students and researchers. He is
dean of monastic life for the Western American Diocese, and since
2015 has been abbot of the Monastery of St. Silouan the Athonite
near Sonora, CA. With the blessing of His Eminence Kyrill,
Archbishop of San Francisco & Western America, Fr. Irenei traveled
to the Eastern American Diocese specifically for the retreat.
Irenei offered retreat participants a lecture, entitled, "Hope
beyond Despair, Zeal beyond Apathy: The Mission of the Church in
Today’s Society." The lecture was greeted with sincere interest on
the part of the clergy, and discussion followed, both during the
presentation and later, outside of the hall.
luncheon was then served for the participants of the pastoral
retreat by the cathedral sisterhood and volunteers.
After lunch, the clergy and matushkas discussed various problems
encountered in parish life, and also posed questions to the
hierarchs and Fr. Irenei regarding the upcoming Pan-Orthodox
Council, which will take place this June. Fr. Irenei, along with
Archbishop Mark of Berlin, Germany & Great Britain, has been working
on behalf of the Russian Church Abroad in preparing for the Council.
That evening, the Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos was read
before her icon "Softener of Evil Hearts," followed by the reading
of the Prayer Rule for Holy Communion. Upon completion of a lenten
dinner, the clergy once more gathered in the cathedral, where Matins
was served. Everyone was able to confess their sins, in order to
commune the following day at the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.
Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese