June 15, 2016
Staten Island, NY: Metropolitan Hilarion leads Patronal Feast of Church of our Lady "Unexpected Joy"

The parish of the Icon of the Mother of God "Unexpected Joy" on Staten Island, NY was founded on December 22, 2007, with the blessing of the ever-memorable Metropolitan Laurus. The newly founded community was faced with the task of choosing its Heavenly patron… the new parishioners saw three choices: the Holy Royal New Martyrs, the Holy Hierarch John Chrysostom (the 1,700th anniversary of whose repose was celebrated that year), and the Icon of the Mother of God "Unexpected Joy," particularly close to the family of the parish’s rector, Archpriest George Kallaur. After praying on this, as well as discussing it with His Eminence, it was decided to name the first and only Russian Orthodox parish on Staten Island in honor of the icon of the Mother of God "Unexpected Joy…"

On Friday, May 13, the eve of the feast of the Icon of the Mother of God "Unexpected Joy," His Grace Nicholas, Bishop of Manhattan, visited the church dedicated to that icon on Staten Island, NY, and led the All-Night Vigil, co-served by rector Archpriest George Kallaur and Protodeacon Nicolas Mokhoff (cleric of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City).

On Saturday morning, a large number of the faithful gathered to triumphally and lovingly greet His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, who had come to lead the parish’s vernal patronal feast. His Eminence celebrated the Divine Liturgy, co-served by New York City dean Archpriest Alexander Belya, the rector, Archpriest Petro Zgoba (parish cleric), Archpriest Vasiliy Raskovskiy (Synodal cleric), Archpriest Paul Ivanov (rector of Holy Myrrhbearers Church in Brooklyn, NY), Protodeacons Nicolas Mokhoff and Dionysius Lvov (Synodal clerics), and Deacon Rostislav Zadorozhny (cleric of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Brooklyn).

The choir, led by parish conductor Galina Rusak, sang triumphally and prayerfully, helping the faithful in their fervent prayer. During the Little Entrance, Fr. Vasiliy Raskovskiy was awarded the right to wear the jeweled cross.

In his archpastoral sermon, Metropolitan Hilarion called on all of the faithful to follow the path trodden by the sinner in the icon of the Mother of God "Unexpected Joy" – with hope, humility, and firm faith drawing near to her who united Heaven and earth, God and man.

Diocesan gramotas were awarded to several parishioners who had labored intensively for the benefit of the parish – Joseph Geller, for his many diligent construction projects in the new church building; Svetlana Reksha, the head sister; Svetlana Borisova, the parish treasurer; Nadezhda Maltsev, a choir member and its main soprano; and Reader Sergei Kallaur, a fruitful member of the parish who had never shied away from any task or obedience in the church – in the altar, on the kliros, or in any other aspect of parish life.

After the service, the parish sisterhood prepared a bountiful luncheon, which proceeded in a familial spirit. Each of the clergymen delivered a short speech, expressing his gratitude and festal congratulations to the Metropolitan, the rector, and the entire parish. Bidding His Eminence and the visiting clergy farewell, many remained for a long time and did not wish to let them depart, sensing the grace that they, led by their First Hierarch, brought to the parish community.