May 3, 2016
Howell, NJ: On Second Day of Pascha, Metropolitan Hilarion celebrates Liturgy in St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral

On Monday, May 2, the second day of the feast of the Glorious Resurrection of Christ – Pascha, the clergy and faithful of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ, welcomed the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, as well as diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, with Paschal greetings. Pascha has always been the most beloved, radiant, and therefore lengthy feast among Christians. The Church Fathers and liturgical order direct the faithful to spend the entirety of Bright Week "in the holy churches ceaselessly carrying out the singing of psalms and spiritual hymns, rejoicing and glorying in Christ," and so this whole week, titled "Bright," is as if one great feast.

The Divine Liturgy on this bright and joyous day was led by Metropolitan Hilarion, co-served by Bishop Nicholas, New Jersey dean Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov, cathedral dean Archpriest Serge Lukianov, cathedral clerics Archpriest Boris Slootsky and Priest Seraphim Chemodakov, Priest Serge Ledkovsky (deputy rector of St. Vladimir Memorial Church in Jackson, NJ), Hieromonk Tikhon (Gayfudinov; rector of Holy Protection Skete in Buena, NJ), and cathedral Protodeacons Leonid Roschko and Paul Drozdowski.

Prior to the start of Liturgy, for their dedicated service, altar servers Gregory Welsh, Ioann Maiorov, and Michael and Alexander Mackanic were awarded right to wear the orarion.

Traditionally, many children gather in church for the second day of Pascha: students at the parish’s Russian School, as well as the children of regular parishioners of the cathedral and neighboring parishes. Most of the worshippers at Liturgy communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.

Upon completion of the Liturgy, a procession was held with the participation of the children, who carried icons alongside the adults.

This year, the divine services for the first day of Bright Week took place under the aegis of the myrrh-streaming Icon of the Mother of God "Softener of Evil Hearts" for the third time. This year, the travels of the holy icon to the parishes and monasteries of the Diocese were especially lengthy at fifty days: virtually all of Great Lent and Passion Week. On the first day of Pascha, after the nighttime festal services, which the myrrh-streaming icon spent in Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, the holy image traveled to the Diocesan Center in Howell. During the procession, the clergy blessed the faithful and environs with the holy icon, which on the following day returned to Moscow.

After the procession, His Eminence congratulated the clergy and parishioners with the "Feast of feasts," wishing them the joy and grace that the Lord bestows on us through His Resurrection. Metropolitan Hilarion thanked the clergy, singers, and sisterhood, who helped arrange and carry out the greatest feast of the year. His Eminence especially thanked Sergey Fomin, who for many years has been traveling to America with the Icon of the Mother of God "Softener of Evil Hearts" in order to comfort and strengthen the faithful. In thanks, Metropolitan Hilarion awarded Sergey Leonidovich a diocesan gramota, which reads, in part:

"The Act of Canonical Communion between the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia and [the Church] Abroad, signed in 2007, cleared the way for the myrrh-streaming image [to travel] to the North American continent – to the parishes and monasteries first of the Russian Church Abroad, and later to other Orthodox jurisdictions, as well. And everywhere, a multitude of people come to the wonderworking icon in order, first of all, to express their love to the Queen of Heaven and to her Divine Son, as well as to ask for healing from physical ailments, aid in life’s sorrows and pitfalls, the softening of their own hearts and those of their loves ones, and help and support for soul and spirit. This year, the myrrh-streaming Icon sanctified with her presence for the fifth time the Paschal festivities in the [spiritual] center of the Russian Diaspora – Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville.

"This current pilgrimage across the stretches of the Eastern American Diocese is – both for you and for the icon – the lengthiest. In fifty days, you have visited almost ten states of the Diocese, and held the first aerial procession between the Florida parishes, including one named in honor of the wonderworking Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos "Softener of Evil Hearts." We call down God’s blessing on your further years of labors, wishing [for you] His abundant and unfailing aid, health, spiritual tranquility, and salvation.

On behalf of the clergy and parishioners, cathedral dean Fr. Serge Lukianov congratulated the rector, Metropolitan Hilarion, on the occasion of the feast of Christ’s Resurrection, wishing him Paschal joy and spiritual strengths in carrying out his archpastoral labors, and presented him with a Metropolitan’s blue mantle.

After the service, the hierarchs, clergy, and children spread out across the church property, where the traditional children’s Easter egg hunt competition was held. The cathedral sisterhood then offered a festal luncheon for the clergy and faithful in the parish hall, during which the Russian School students performed a short Paschal concert.

The divine services for Bright Week in the churches of the Diocesan Center will resume on Thursday the 5th and Friday the 6th of May, when Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan will celebrate the feast of the Holy Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer George at St. George’s Church in Howell.

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese