July 23, 2016
Rocky Hill, NJ: Metropolitan Hilarion leads Patronal Feast Day of St. Elizabeth the New-Martyr Church

On Monday, July 18, the feast of the martyric repose of the Venerable Nun-Martyrs Elizabeth and Barbara, the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, paid an archpastoral visit to St. Elizabeth the New-Martyr Church in Rocky Hill, NJ and led its patronal feast day.

His Eminence was co-served at the Liturgy by Eastern American Diocesan secretary Archpriest Serge Lukianov, parish rector Archpriest David Straut, Archpriest Rafael Melendez (Albanian Orthodox Church), Hieromonk Tikhon (Gayfudinov; abbot of Holy Protection Skete in Buena, NJ), Priest Michael Volzhansky (cleric of the Diocese of Lipetsk), Protodeacon Paul Drozdowski (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral), and parish Deacons Seraphim Komleski, Steven Barker, and Stephanos Bibas.

In his sermon, His Eminence spoke of the ascetic labors and martyr sufferings of the holy nun-martyrs Elizabeth and Barbara, saying, in part: "Today we commemorate the martyrdom of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth and Nun Barbara, as well as the young noblemen who were thrown into the mine shaft that became their Golgotha. They received the martyr's crown in the town of Alapaevsk on the day after the martyrdom of the Royal Family - Tsar Nicholas, Tsaritsa Alexandra, and their august children. St. Elizabeth is a woman who is a great inspiration to all of us - not just to all Orthodox Christians, but to many throughout the world, even those who are not Orthodox. They see in her image, in her life, a great example of love for God and love for others. Though raised a Protestant, she wholeheartedly and of her own volition adopted the Orthodox Faith. She loved her Faith, and she loved Russia, as well, where she stayed even after the assassination of her husband. Even after the revolution, she refused to leave, opting to stay with her people in troubled times.

"She remains an inspiration to those who have come to Orthodoxy and who are seeking Orthodoxy from other religions. Many have been drawn to her because of her charitable work and her works of mercy. She endured the agony of her husband's murder with Christian fortitude and faith, even going to the assassin in prison and offering him forgiveness. She totally devoted herself to works of love and charity, imitating her sister, the Empress, and the royal children, who were also deeply involved in charitable works. She founded her own convent, a house of mercy where she and other sisters brought in those who needed care and mercy and nurturing, thus imitating the Biblical sisters Martha and Mary - one who loved to work and serve, and the other who loved to spend her time in prayer and contemplation. Through her martyr's crown, God highlights for us her deep faith and an example of acquiring the Kingdom of Heaven."

Upon completion of the Liturgy, a short moleben was served to Ven. Sergius of Radonezh (whose memory is also celebrated on this day) and St. Elizabeth. The deacon then intoned the Polychronion for the archpastors, rector, clergy, parishioners, namesday celebrants, and all Orthodox Christians.

Metropolitan Hilarion presented a diocesan gramota to Reader Gregory and Claudia Maxey, who have labored throughout the parish’s history in the choir and on the kliros, and have also provided the parish with much-needed financial support.

In honor of the 30th anniversary of his ordination, the parish congratulated Fr. David, and presented him a new kamilavka as a gift.

After the service, the clergy, parishioners, and guests gathered beneath a tent behind the church, where the sisterhood had prepared a bountiful festal luncheon.

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese