September 24, 2016
Washington, DC: Metropolitan Hilarion leads Patronal Feast Day of St. John the Baptist Cathedral

On the feast of the Beheading of the Holy Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist of the Lord John, St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, DC marked the 67th anniversary of its founding. On this day, September 11, 1949, the Holy Hierarch John of Shanghai – then visiting the U.S. capital in order to obtain assistance from the American government for his flock on the Philippine island of Tubabao – gathered a group of faithful children of the Church Abroad in a private home and celebrated the new church community’s first Divine Liturgy. It was St. John himself who named the parish in honor of the prophet he so deeply loved and revered. After the founding of the new church community, parishioners gathered in various locations for Sunday and festal services. In 1958, they obtained a piece of land in the center of Washington, at the intersection of 17th Street and Shepherd Street – and parishioners erected a small church and parish house. In 1977, a large-scale reconstruction project began that would last several years and result in the church receiving its current majestic façade, designed in the 17th century Moscow-Yaroslavl’ architectural style.

This year, the feast day fell on a Sunday, and all of the appointed divine services were led by the ruling bishop of the Eastern American Diocese, His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion.

On Saturday, September 10, His Eminence led the All-Night Vigil, co-served by His Eminence, Metropolitan Jonah (former Primate of the Orthodox Church in America), and parish clergy. Two well-rehearsed choirs sang the Vigil: a Slavonic choir, under the direction of Y.A. Petcherkin, and an English choir, under the direction of Paula Genis. The beautiful singing of the two choirs is customary for parishioners here, but worshippers from other cities took note of the dynamic execution of the hymnography and the ease with which the choirs alternated between Church Slavonic and English. Throughout the Vigil, the parish priests heard confessions from all those who desired to be cleansed of their sins in order to commune of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.

The Divine Liturgy on September 11 saw several notable moments. During the Little Entrance, church awards were bestowed upon several cathedral clerics: the parish’s second priest, Fr. John Johnson, was awarded the gold pectoral cross; Priest Damian Dantinne was given the right to wear the purple skufia during the divine services; Protodeacon Patrick Mitchell was awarded the kamilavka.

At the festal Liturgy, a multitude of worshippers were communed from five chalices.

His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, dedicated his sermon to the cathedral’s Heavenly patron, the Holy Prophet and Forerunner John. The Metropolitan’s sermon was recorded and can be viewed here.

After the dismissal, the traditional moleben to St. John the Baptist was served, followed by a procession around the cathedral. At the procession’s second stop, Metropolitan Hilarion performed the blessing of the neighboring parish house, which was obtained two years ago. Significant remodeling was done to the house all throughout 2016, including improvements to the grounds. As a result of the remodeling, one might be given the impression that the house and the church were built simultaneously long ago.

At the end of the prayerful feast, Metropolitan Hilarion thanked those who were instrumental in organizing the event for their prayers and hospitality.

Two parishioners and one friend of the parish were awarded diocesan gramotas.

Parishioner Alexander V. Kariman received a gramota "for major contributions to the preparation and realization of reworking the parish’s Internet portal."

Ruslan Malakhov, who lives in Donetsk, Ukraine, and works in A.V. Karimov’s company as a computer technician, received the award "for his work in fully reworking the parish’s website, practically recreating the site’s design and structure from scratch." Thanks to Malakhov’s efforts, the cathedral’s site has become one of the best in the Eastern American Diocese.

Parishioner James Seaman received the gramota for his work in setting up a system of live video transmission of the divine services at St. John the Baptist Cathedral over the Internet.

As always at such events, the parish sisterhood treated the festal participants to a bountiful luncheon.

Having celebrated their parish’s patronal feast day, parishioners can now begin to dedicate their time and efforts to preparing for the two-day benevolent bazaar, which has become very popular in Washington and will be held October 1-2. Following this, they will organize the annual pilgrimage to Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, to the grave of Brother Jose Muñoz-Cortes, guardian of the myrrh-streaming "Montreal" Iveron Icon of the Mother of God, who was murdered in 1997. This year, the pilgrimage will be held on October 29-30, and is expected to take place under the aegis of the myrrh-streaming "Hawaiian" Iveron Icon of the Mother of God.

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese