September 17, 2016
Howell, NJ: Metropolitan Hilarion leads Patronal Feast of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral

On Sunday the 11th and Monday the 12th of September, the patronal feast day of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York led the All-Night Vigil and celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Diocesan Center. Co-serving with His Eminence were:

-          Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov (dean of New Jersey)

-          Archpriest Mark Shinn (rector of St. Andrew’s Cathedral (MP) in Philadelphia, PA)

-          Archpriest Serge Lukianov (diocesan secretary, cathedral dean)

-          Archpriest Liubo Milosevich (rector of Holy Trinity Church in Vineland, NJ)

-          Archpriest David Straut (rector of St. Elizabeth the New-Martyr Church in Rocky Hill, NJ)

-          Archpriest Mark Burachek (rector of Our Lady of Kazan Church in Newark, NJ)

-          Archpriest Boris Oparin (rector of St. Joasaph of Belgorod Church in Brooklyn, NY)

-          Archpriest Rafael Melendez (cleric of the Albanian Orthodox Church)

-          Archpriest Petro Kunitsky (cleric of Holy New Martyrs & Confessors of Russia Church in Brooklyn, NY)

-          Archpriest Boris Slootsky (cathedral cleric)

-          Archpriest George Zelenin (rector of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Paterson, NJ)

-          Archpriest Vasiliy Raskovskiy (cleric of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City)

-          Archpriest Zoran Radovic (rector of St. George’s Serbian Church in Elizabeth, NJ)

-          Priest Seraphim Chemodakov (cathedral cleric)

-          Priest Dimitri Jakimowicz (cleric of the Church of All Russian Saints, Burlingame, CA)

-          Priest Theodore Gregory (rector of Holy Trinity Church (OCA) in Rahway, NJ)

-          Protodeacon Dimitri Temidis (cleric of Holy Protection Church in Nyack, NY)

-          Protodeacons Leonid Roschko & Paul Drozdowski (cathedral clerics), and

-          Deacon Petr Utkin (cleric of Holy New Martyrs Church in Brooklyn).

Also praying in church was Priest Serge Ledkovsky (deputy rector of St. Vladimir Memorial Church in Jackson, NJ).

On the eve of the feast, the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora – the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God – was brought to the cathedral from New York City for the All-Night Vigil; to the joy of the clergy and faithful, the icon remained in the church for veneration during the services. At Liturgy, the parish choir was joined in their singing by the "Konevets" Quartet from St. Petersburg.

At the Little Entrance, in accordance with the resolution of the Holy Synod, Fr. Seraphim Chemodakov was elevated to the rank of archpriest.

The church was full of worshippers for its patronal feast day, and many communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.

Upon completion of the service, Metropolitan Hilarion addressed the faithful with a sermon: "The Lord blesses and gives many gifts to those who please Him, those who struggle and who accomplish their salvation alongside Him. One such great saint of God was the holy right-believing Great Prince Alexander, who labored much for the well-being of his country. The Emperor Peter the Great, highly valuing St. Alexander’s struggles and victories over the Swedes, ordered that the saint’s relics be transferred from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Three Russian tsars bore the name Alexander, which made him the Heavenly patron of the Imperial Family. But the Church glorifies St. Alexander Nevsky not for his victories, but for his inner spiritual life, because he glorified God in his life, prayed for the Russian land and for his enemies, and so cultivated his own soul that God might abide within him. And the Lord granted him might and fortitude, that he might defend his homeland and his people."

His Eminence congratulated the cathedral clerics and the namesday celebrants bearing the saint’s name, wishing them "good success in all things, that this day might be full of joy and spiritual jubilation," and that joy in the Lord might always remain with them.

After the festal Liturgy, the traditional procession was held around the cathedral with the Kursk Root Icon and other holy icons of the church.

On behalf of the clergy and parishioners, cathedral dean Fr. Serge Lukianov congratulated Metropolitan Hilarion as rector on the occasion of the patronal feast day, and thanked His Eminence for his archpastoral love and joint prayers, and wished the Metropolitan fortitude and God’s aid.

Fr. Serge then introduced to the faithful Sister Martha (Wall), director of the Russian School in Bethany in the Holy Land. He told them about the current status of the girls’ school, in which over 500 students are presently enrolled, and which next year will mark its 80th anniversary.

Metropolitan Hilarion, joined by clergy and parishioners, proceeded to Nevsky Park, located behind the cathedral’s altar, where he planted a tree in memory of his parents. The clergy touchingly sang "Memory Eternal" to the ever-memorable Alexey and Euphrosynia.

The cathedral sisterhood invited the clergy and faithful to a festal luncheon in the parish hall, where general interaction continued. The "Konevets" Quartet performed a concert of Russian folk music for all those present, and was greeted with thunderous applause.

Horseback riding was also organized in Nevsky Park for adults and children alike. This caught the excited attention not only of parishioners with children, but also of the clergy, who decided to have a ride on the horses, as well. The cost of the horses was covered by a donation from the owners of the local Bear & Birch Russian Banya.

Interaction between the clergy, parishioners, and guests continued long into the afternoon.

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese