September 14, 2016
Jackson, NJ: Bishop Jerome leads 40th Anniversary Commemoration of Archbishop Nikon (Rklitsky)

On Saturday, September 4, 1976, Archbishop Nikon (Rklitsky) of Washington & Florida reposed in the Lord at the age of 84. Born in Borki, Chernigov in the Russian Empire to the family of a priest, Archbishop Nikon would graduate from Chernigov Theological Seminary and the University of St. Vladimir in Kiev. He attended various military academies, served in the White Army, and was evacuated from Crimea with his family in 1920. He worked in publications until 1941, when he dedicated is life fully to God and the Church and was tonsured a monk by Metropolitan Anastassy (Gribanovsky), First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad. He was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood that same year; in 1946, he emigrated to the United States, and in 1948 was consecrated Bishop of Florida. Over the years of his vicariate, and especially under the tutelage of Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko), Archbishop Nikon have a powerful influence over the growth and development of the Eastern American Diocese, particularly overseeing the establishment of new churches. He traveled extensively throughout the Church Abroad, and was a longtime professor at Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville. He wrote extensively, especially for missionary purposes, and culminated his works with the Biography of Blessed Anthony, Metropolitan of Kiev and Galicia. After his sudden repose, he was buried alongside Archbishop Vitaly in the lower church of St. Vladimir Memorial Church in Jackson, NJ, the completion of which he helped oversee.

On Sunday, September 4, the clergy and faithful gathered at St. Vladimir Memorial Church in Jackson, NJ to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the repose of a great luminary of the Russian Church Abroad: Archbishop Nikon (Rklitsky). Celebrating Divine Liturgy was His Grace, Bishop Jerome, who for several years served as Archbishop Nikon’s cell attendant. His Grace was co-served by deputy rector Priest Serge Ledkovsky and Protodeacon Leonid Roschko (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ).

Upon completion of the Liturgy, Bishop Jerome addressed believers with a sermon, in which he said, in part: "We heard today in the Epistle reading: ‘You are the seal of my apostleship.’ The seal of our apostleship is, of course, when the people stand firm in the Faith and are active members of the Church. It is a great accomplishment to build a church, but it is an even greater accomplishment to create a parish in that church. We are standing in a church founded 78 years ago (in 1938) by Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko). He began this undertaking and supported the project for the remainder of his days. His successor, Archbishop Nikon, continued this great work, not only of the construction of the memorial church, but of creating a parish within it. Why are these accomplishments considered great? Because each one of us has only so much time allotted to us in this life; we know that man lives only 70, 80, 90 years, and the last of these, as it says in the Psalter, are labor and sorrow. But the church remains, and that good work that we began in our lifetimes remains after us and brings us joy and comfort in the next life. Similarly, the evil that we do in this life brings us sorrow in the next. But a church does not pray – people pray. And it is very important that we all fulfill the testaments of our ancestors, of our holy hierarchs, of our parents, grandparents, and the holy fathers of the Church, who show us the path to salvation. Among them undoubtedly is Archbishop Nikon, who made an irreplaceable contribution to the life of this community and the whole Church Abroad. May his memory be eternal."

An epistle from Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, regarding the occasion of His Eminence’s repose was then read aloud. After the dismissal, the clergy and faithful descended into the lower St. Olga’s Church, where a panihida was served at Archbishop Nikon’s graveside. A luncheon then followed, during which Bishop Jerome shared some of his recollections of his time serving with the hierarch.

Memory eternal to Archbishop Nikon!

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese