March 31, 2016
Howell, NJ: Lenten Retreat for Eastern American Diocesan Clergy Concludes

On Wednesday, March 30, the Lenten Retreat for clergy and matushkas of the Eastern American Diocese concluded with the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. The retreat had taken place under the aegis of the myrrh-streaming Icon of the Mother of God "Softener of Evil Hearts." In the morning, the clergy gathered at St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral. Greeting the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, the cathedral’s pastor emeritus, Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov, noted that, "All of us gathered here are brothers. But we need a father, and today we greet you wholeheartedly as our father."

At Liturgy, His Eminence was co-served by Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, and over 60 concelebrating clergy. At the Little Entrance, Metropolitan Hilarion bestowed awards on 16 diocesan clerics.

Addressing the faithful with a sermon and words of lenten instruction was the guest of the pastoral retreat from the Western American Diocese – Archimandrite Irenei (Steenberg), abbot of the Monastery of St. Silouan the Athonite in Sonora, CA.

On the eve of and during the service, the faithful confessed their sins, and upon completion of the Liturgy, lenten retreat participants, parishioners, and guests communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.

Addressing the hierarchs, clergy, and guests, diocesan secretary Archpriest Serge Lukianov thanked everyone for their participation, shared prayer, and brotherly support, and expressed joy and gratitude to the Savior for the opportunity to hold the retreat under the protection of the Icon of the Mother of God "Softener of Evil Hearts" for a second year in a row.

Metropolitan Hilarion prayerfully commemorated those who have departed for the next life: longtime rector of Joy of All Who Sorrow Church in Philadelphia, PA Archimandrite Athanasy (Mastalski), Priest Gregoire Legouté (cleric of the Haitian Mission), and Matushka Hannah Romeo (wife of Priest Demetrio Romeo, rector of St. Luke the Blessed Surgeon Mission in Coconut Creek, FL), and asked the brother-clergy not to forget them in their prayers. Diocesan clergy joined chorus to sing "Memory Eternal" to the departed. With love and in memory of his matushka, Fr. Demetrio was presented a copy of the myrrh-streaming Hawaiian-Iveron Icon of the Mother of God.

Metropolitan Hilarion blessed all those present with the cross, while Bishop Nicholas anointed them with holy myrrh from the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Concluding the pastoral retreat, a group photograph was taken of all of the participants. They then proceeded to the church hall for a farewell luncheon, during which it was announced that the next pastoral conference will be held in October in Atlanta, GA.

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese