August 11, 2016
Sea Cliff, NY: St. Seraphim Memorial Church prayerfully celebrates Patronal Feast

The clergy and parishioners of St. Seraphim Church in Sea Cliff, NY, which was recently dedicated as the Memorial Church to the Re-Establishment of Unity in the Russian Church, greeted their patronal feast day with prayerful participation in the festal divine services, pious communion of Christ’s Holy Mysteries, and truly brotherly interaction at marvelously prepared festal meals.

On Sunday, July 31, Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, vicar of the Eastern American Diocese, led the All-Night Vigil with Litiya, the blessing of the breads, the magnification, and the communal singing of an akathist to the Venerable Seraphim, Wonderworker of Sarov. The following morning, His Grace celebrated the Divine Liturgy – that crown of the daily cycle of services – co-served by parish, diocesan, and Synodal clergy, as well as representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches, under the joyous singing of the choir under the direction of N.M. Miro. Upon completion of the festal evening service, the parish rector, Archpriest Serafim Gan, with the assistance of his spouse and mother, held a large reception at his residence, inviting the archpastor and all of the clergy and worshippers present in church.

This year, August 1 (the feast of the Finding of the Relics of Ven. Seraphim) was a Monday, but the church was full: some agreed to come in later to work, while others came back to attend the service during their summer vacation. Children crawled on the steps before the entrance to the church, sprawled out across the carpet, and generally made themselves perfectly at home in the church, comfortable and calm.

One of the parish’s many sacred icons had been placed in the center of the church – a prerevolutionary icon of Venerable Seraphim with a piece of his holy and oft-healing relics.

Prior to the beginning of the service, Priest Nikolaj Kostur (rector of St. George’s Serbian Church in Joliet, IL) performed a moleben with the blessing of the water.

At Liturgy, His Grace was co-served by:

-          Archpriest Serafim Gan (parish rector)

-          Archpriest Constantine Semyanko (cleric of Holy Presentation Church in Stratford, CT)

-          Archpriest Alexandre Antchoutine (rector of Holy Virgin Intercession Church in Glen Cove, NY)

-          Priest George Temidis (cleric of Nativity of the Mother of God Church at the New Kursk Root Hermitage in Mahopac, NY)

-          Priest Nikolaj Kostur (cleric of the Serbian Orthodox Church)

-          Hieromonk Eutychius (Dovganyuk; cleric of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City)

-          Hieromonk Silouan (Justiniano; cleric of Holy Cross Brotherhood in East Setauket, NY)

-          Protodeacon Nicolas Mokhoff (cleric of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City)

-          Protodeacons Paul Wolkow & Eugene Kallaur (parish clerics)

-          Hierodeacon Parthenios (Miller; cleric of Holy Cross Brotherhood in East Setauket, NY)

-          Deacon Victor Ganson (cleric of Holy Epiphany Church in Boston, MA)

-          Deacon Nenad Jakovljevic (cleric of the Serbian Orthodox Church)

-          Deacon Vladimir Barros (cleric of Holy Virgin Intercession Church in Glen Cove).

Praying in church was Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky (rector of the neighboring Our Lady of Kazan OCA Church in Sea Cliff).

During the Divine Liturgy, augmented prayer was offered for peace in the Ukraine. In his sermon, delivered after "Blessed be the name of the Lord," His Grace, Bishop Nicholas, wished all those gathered Heavenly aid in following the example of Venerable Seraphim, who acquired the spirit of peace and unending joy in the Risen Christ by way of meticulously fulfilling the Gospel commandments and actively striving toward God and personal interaction with Him through deep prayer. Venerable Seraphim ended his earthly life in a manner to which he was entirely accustomed: kneeling in prayer before the "Tenderness" Icon of the Mother of God that he revered, noted His Grace.

After the dismissal of the Divine Liturgy, a moleben was served with a procession around the memorial church. Upon completion of the service, Bishop Nicholas read aloud the prayer to the parish’s Heavenly patron. Addressing parishioners before the kissing of the cross, His Grace expressed his gratitude to the clergy, altar servers, singers, and all those present for the festal service that had just taken place, and by which they had all honored the memory of this great Russian ascetic. He also relayed to all the Primatial blessing, greeting, and warm words of His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, currently on pilgrimage to the holy sites of Russia. Bishop Nicholas also paid mind to all of the namesday celebrants, adding words of personal congratulation to his greeting.

In response, Fr. Serafim Gan – underscoring that the current celebrations had taken place in the holy midst of several widely celebrated dates in the life of the Church: the fiftieth anniversary of the repose of the Holy Hierarch John of Shanghai & San Francisco, who once celebrated Divine Liturgy in the memorial church, and the millennium of Russian monastic presence on Mount Athos – expressed his appreciation to His Grace for his archpastoral presidency before the altar of St. Seraphim’s Church on "this chosen and holy day" for the parish community, for his edifying sermon, and for blessing the new icons of the Holy Apostles Peter & Paul, the Holy Righteous Lazarus of the Four Days and his sisters Martha & Mary, Venerable Dosithea of Kiev (who blessed Ven. Seraphim to begin the monastic struggle in the Sarov Hermitage), Venerable Aristocles of Athos, Holy Hierarch Seraphim of Sofia, the Venerable Women of Diveevo, and the church’s Guardian Angel. Thanking and congratulating all of the participants of the service, Fr. Serafim wished them all "the grace-filled poverty of spirit, which comforts, calms, and warms all those near to it."

The above-mentioned icons were then blessed, after which the protodeacons intoned the prescribed Polychronia. During the kissing of the cross, the parish choir sang "We praise Thee, O God" and "Eis Polla" (comp. D.S. Bortniansky).

At the bountiful luncheon organized by the parish sisterhood (headed by E.M. Mikheev), Bishop Nicholas, Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky, Fr. Alexandre Antchoutine, Fr. Paul Wolkow, and others expressed warm words of congratulation to those gathered and to the namesday celebrants, who were presented with commemorative gifts. Concluding, the parish rector once more thanked His Grace, the clergy, the subdeacons and altar servers, the choir, E.M. Mikheev and the sisterhood, and wished all a prayerful disposition of spirit, the unceasing joy of St. Seraphim, and mutual respect, patience, and love, around the acquirers of which "thousands are saved."

Expressing his gratitude to the parish sisters, Fr. Serafim made note of their zeal in labors, in earnestly adorning the church, and in their active realization of various benevolent projects, including raising funds and humanitarian aid (already filling a second container), which will be sent to the Ukrainian land in the near future.

After a thanksgiving moleben, Bishop Nicholas gave his blessing to all those parishioners who approached him, and conversed with them.

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese