March 25, 2016
Howell, NJ: Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan performs Archpastoral Visit to St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

On Monday the 21st and Tuesday the 22nd of March, continuing his lenten archpastoral travels to parishes of the Eastern American Diocese, Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan visited St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ, and led Matins and Divine Liturgy for the feast of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste.

At Liturgy, His Grace was co-served by Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov (dean of New Jersey), Archpriests Serge Lukianov (cathedral dean), Petro Kunitsky (cleric of Holy New Martyrs Church in Brooklyn, NY), Boris Slootsky (cathedral cleric), and Zoran Radovic (rector of St. George’s Serbian Church in Elizabeth, NJ), Priest Serge Ledkovsky (deputy rector of St. Vladimir Memorial Church in Jackson, NJ), and Protodeacon Paul Drozdowski (cathedral cleric). Singing and praying during the service were cathedral clerics Priest Seraphim Chemodakov and Protodeacon Leonid Roschko.

Despite it being a weekday, many people gathered in church, the majority of whom – including Bishop Nicholas – are the spiritual children of the cathedral’s pastor emeritus, Fr. Valery Lukianov, who that day was celebrating his namesday.

Upon completion of the service, the clergy served a short moleben before the icon of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste.

Addressing the faithful with a sermon, His Grace said, in part: "Today, we celebrate the memory of the Holy Martyrs of Sebaste, praising their spiritual feat and martyrdom. The word ‘martyr’ means ‘witness;’ in this complex age, the Lord has called on us to be witnesses of the Orthodox Faith, of the Gospel truth, and of Church life. This means that we must lead a life in the Church, observe the fasts, and attend the divine services. In this way, we will join the witness of the Orthodox Faith."

Bishop Nicholas also reminded worshippers of the example set by St. Mary of Egypt, who is mentioned in the Great Penitential Canon on the first week of Great Lent: "St. Mary of Egypt recognized her sinfulness and departed into the desert, in order to repent and to lead a spiritual struggle in fasting, prayer and contrition. Not all of us can go into the desert, but in our thoughts we can refuse to be part of this sinful world, choosing instead to bear witness to our faith within it."

His Grace congratulated Fr. Valery on his namesday, relaying greetings from Metropolitan Hilarion, and wishing him strength and God’s aid, expressing his sincere joy and their shared prayerful interaction.

On behalf of cathedral parishioners, Fr. Serge Lukianov presented Fr. Valery with forty red roses in honor of the Forty Martyrs, and wished him many years of service to the Holy Church.

The parish sisterhood baked the traditional ‘lark’ pastries for all of the parishioners, and invited all to a festal luncheon, where the hierarch and faithful were able to continue their interaction. At the luncheon, Fr. Valery spoke briefly, sharing touching details from the lives of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste.

After the luncheon, Bishop Nicholas walked through Nevsky Park, where he spoke with some of the workers and thanked them for their labors, blessing them and their continued work in beautifying the territory surrounding the diocesan cathedral. His Grace then led a regular meeting of the diocesan administration, at which were discussed details of the upcoming Lenten Clergy Retreat, which will take place at the Diocesan Center March 28-30.

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese