October 19, 2016
Atlanta, GA: Bishop Nicholas summons Pastoral Conference
Participants to approach Protectress of the Russian Diaspora with
Love and Trepidation
American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, almost
immediately after his return from a pilgrimage trip to Russia with
the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, traveled to
the diocesan clergy conference at St. Mary of Egypt Church in
Addressing the conference’s participants, His Grace called on the
clergy and faithful to approach the Protectress of the Russian
Diaspora "not as something we can take for granted," but to turn
their gaze toward Russia: seeing how the people greet the holy icon,
how they pray, how they strive to touch the icon even for a minute,
lifting up their prayers to the Most Holy Theotokos.
Bishop Nicholas noted that no other icon travels the world as often
as the Kursk Root Icon, and reminded listeners that, after leaving
from Odessa in 1920, the wonderworking icon returned to a different
Russia for the first time in 89 years in 2009, visiting Moscow and
Kursk, and traveling in procession to the restored Kursk Root
Hermitage. Since that time, she has returned to Russia every
Nicholas spoke about the most recent visit of clergy with the icon
to Kursk and the Republic of Mordovia, where 180,000 and 215,000 of
the faithful venerated the holy icon, respectively.
"Every day was like Pascha for me personally and for the clergy
accompanying the icon," said His Grace. "For us, it was a great joy
to have the Kursk Root Icon with us. We have grown accustomed to
this icon, numb to the fact that she is almost always with us.
Instead, we much rejoice, treasuring every moment, every minute that
we have to be with her. People in Russia come to the holy icon for
several seconds, and the icon is there under class and in a
kiot, but they
nevertheless rejoice in every second of her presence and of their
prayer by her side. Meanwhile, we do not always value her. We ought
to give this thought."
Nicholas spoke about how joyous and importance it is for diasporan
clergy to visit Russia, to pray and interact with Russian clergy.
“But it is just as important for Russians to meet with us. The
faithful in Russia are always overjoyed to speak with us. Wherever
we may travel, people are always interested to know how we serve in
America, in what language, what our traditions are. And I answer
that we are the same as them, although perhaps we have preserved
his last visit to Kursk and Mordovia, His Grace could not help but
notice how many young people are praying in church in Russia, how
many youth came to venerate the Kursk Root Icon.
"During my last visit, I saw many young parents in the churches,
with just about every second person coming up to the icon holding
children. And this instills hope – the youth are coming to church
itself, and bringing their families to Orthodoxy."
Bishop Nicholas explained that the greatest miracle is that the
Kursk Root Icon is with us, that the Mother of God blesses our
pilgrimages, humbly guards us, and helps us to travel easily between
dioceses and monasteries in every corner of the world.
Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese