August 16, 2011
South Canaan, PA:
Bishop George of Mayfield participated in the patronal feast day of
St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery
Friday the 12th and Saturday the 13th of August, on the feast day of
St. Tikhon, Wonderworker of Zadonsk (new style), the brethren of St.
Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery in South Canaan, PA, marked their
patronal feast day.
St. Tikhon’s Monastery is the first Orthodox monastery in the United
States. Thanks to the efforts of Hieromonk Arseny (Chagovtsev;
future Archbishop of Winnipeg who was also the rector of St. John
the Baptist Church in Mayfield), the idea to build a monastery in
America quickly became a reality. Despite Fr. Arseny’s having only
arrived in America in 1902, by 1905 the idea received the blessing
of Archbishop Tikhon (future holy hierarch and Patriarch of Moscow
and All Russia), who together with Fr. Arseny purchased land amidst
the hills of northeastern Pennsylvania. The purchase was made
possible through a donation from St. Tikhon who gave $1000. Fr.
Arseny also donated $300, and four of his parishioners from Mayfield
donated a total of $700. The first Divine Liturgy in and dedication
of the monastery were performed by Bishop Raphael of Brooklyn
(Hawaweeny; glorified in 2000). Besides the holy hierarchs Tikhon
and Raphael, the life of the monastery also intertwined with the
fates of three other holy God-pleasers: St. Nikolai (Velimirovich,
author of the Prologue, the Serbian Lives of the Saints, and for
some time rector of the monastery), St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre
(Toth, whose reliquary is located inside the monastery’s cathedral),
and Hieromartyr Alexander (Hotovitsky).
This year, the monastery’s patronal feast day was marked by the
historic concelebration of OCA and ROCOR hierarchs. The last time a
ROCOR bishop served in the OCA’s principal monastery was in 1943.
With the blessing of the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad
and by the invitation of His Grace Tikhon, Bishop of Philadelphia
and Eastern Pennsylvania, and Abbot Sergius (Bowyer; rector of the
monastery), His Grace, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop George
of Mayfield, took part in the monastery feast. Accompanied by
Eastern American Diocesan secretary Archpriest Serge Lukianov,
Bishop George brought with him to the monastery the Protectress of
the Russian Diaspora, the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God.
Friday evening, prior to the Vigil, Bishop Tikhon greeted the Kursk
Icon and triumphally brought the wonderworking image into the
church, after which a moleben was served to the Most Holy Theotokos.
During the All-Night Vigil, His Grace, Bishop Tikhon, was co-served
by Bishop George, Fr. Sergius (Bowyer), Archpriest David Hritcko
(rector of St. Basil’s Church in Simpson, PA), Archpriest John
Kowalczyk (rector of St. Michael’s Church in Jermyn, PA), Fr. Serge
Lukianov, and other OCA clergy. Also praying in church was
Archpriest John Sorochka (dean of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in
Mayfield, PA and dean of the Pennsylvania Deanery).
following morning, the brethren and clergy, led by Bishop Tikhon,
greeted the wonderworking icon and then Bishop George. At the
Liturgy, Their Graces were co-served by the above-mentioned clergy.
A multitude of the faithful communed from three chalices.
sermon, Bishop George noted the historic significance of the
concelebration of the OCA and ROCOR hierarchs, the first since 1943.
His Grace underscored the importance of repentance and forgiveness
as the key to unity among the various canonical Orthodox
jurisdictions in America. His Grace said in part:
times we justify ourselves; even when we ask forgiveness, we still
justify ourselves and blame the other person, considering ourselves
the better person for asking forgiveness. If we want to make peace,
we have to sincerely attribute all of our problems to ourselves and
to our own sins. If we were better Christians, if we were more
loving to our neighbors, this would never have happened, and we
would not be at odds with our neighbors. As the Kursk Icon travels
throughout the United States, we see people from many different
jurisdictions, who may never have met or who may have different
opinions on issues of the faith or of each other, now coming
together through the Mother of God, pursuing true unity amongst the
Orthodox Churches of America. Let us strive to continue this effort
to make peace with one another, doing everything we can. Let us
remember that if we do not forgive our brethren, God will not
forgive us. Let us try to do this, so that we may have peace in our
souls, not only in this life, but in the life to come."
end of the Liturgy, Bishop Tikhon greeted Bishop George with the
momentous and historic occasion ‒ the concelebration on the patronal
feast day of St. Tikhon’s Monastery. Bishop Tikhon expressed his
sincere gratitude to the First Hierarch of the Russian Church
Abroad, His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, or the opportunity to
pray before the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God in St. Tikhon’s
Monastery. His Grace noted, in part:
addition to the patronal feast of the monastery, today is an
historic day: we have a hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad in St.
Tikhon’s Monastery celebrating the Liturgy for the first time in
almost seventy years. It is a great joy and a great blessing; it is
only though forgiveness of each other that we come to unity. Glory
be to God, we have been able to concelebrate the Liturgy today as a
sign and expression of our unity, borne out of repentance, mutual
love, and respect for one another. We pray that the Lord, His Holy
Mother, and St. Tikhon of Zadonsk continue to bless us with their
continual aid in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this
country for many years."
the hierarchs’ greetings, the Polychronion was intoned to His
Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion,
and Their Graces, Bishop Tikhon and Bishop George.
festal luncheon was then offered in the monastery refectory, during
various which congratulatory speeches and greetings were made. After
the luncheon, Bishop George departed for Mayfield to lead the divine
services in St. John the Baptist Cathedral.
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