Home     News     Administration     Spiritual Court     Parishes     Documents     History     
Diocesan Library
     Youth Association     Music Commission     Links
     Volunteers in Mission

Русская Версия


September 27, 2011
Mahopac, NY: The First Hierarch of ROCOR led the Celebration of the Nativity of the Mother of God in the New Kursk Root Hermitage

On Sunday, September 25, on the Leave-Taking of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, led the celebration of the Nativity of the Mother of God in the New Kursk Root Hermitage in Mahopac, NY.

Background: In 1950, Prince and Princess Beloselsky-Belozersky donated their Mahopac estate to the Synod of Bishops to serve as a base for the Synod upon its arrival from Europe. This place was to serve as the home for the Holy Kursk Root Icon, and, in time, a small monastery. The future Archbishop Seraphim was sent to the US from Europe to head the stavropegial monastic community which was named the New Kursk Root Hermitage (Novaya Korennaya Pustyn’) in honor of the original, which suffered at the hands of the communists. Under the supervision of an architect from the local Russian community (Vishnevsky), the church wing was added to the main building in just five months. The church was consecrated in the fall of 1950, shortly prior to the arrival of Metropolitan Anastassy and the start of the 1950 Sobor that was held in Mahopac for a period of approximately two weeks.

In the Church of the Nativity of the Holy Mother of God, His Eminence celebrated the festal Divine Liturgy, co-served by New England dean Archpriest George Larin, parish rector Archpriest Victor Tseshkovsky, Archimandrite Ioann (Magramm), diocesan secretary Archpriest Serge Lukianov, Protodeacon Dimitri Temidis (cleric of Holy Protection Church in Nyack, NY), and Protodeacon Sergei Arlievsky (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo"). During the Liturgy, the First Hierarch tonsured parish warden and Diocesan Council member George G. Temidis a reader, ordained him a subdeacon, and then ordained him to the diaconate. The newly ordained Fr. George will fulfill his service at the New Kursk Root Hermitage. During the Great Entrance, the Metropolitan commemorated the ever-memorable Metropolitan Vitaly (Ustinov; on the fifth anniversary of his repose) and monastery founder Archbishop Seraphim (Ivanov).

With the blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion, during the communion of the clergy, Fr. Serge Lukianov delivered a sermon in which he said:

On this radiant and joyous Sunday, we take leave of the feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. This feast is the dayspring that proceeds the sunrise, proclaiming joy to the whole world by that joy, experienced by the Holy Righteous Joachim and Anna, for a child is born from whom the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, will shine forth.

Note, dear brothers and sisters, how deeply the history of this holy New Kursk Root Hermitage is tied with the feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God. This feast proclaimed joy to the whole world – the birth of the Ever-Virgin Mary and the coming birth of the Savior. From the confines of this Hermitage the joy was proclaimed to the whole world of the coming of the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God to the United States of America.

The Holy Righteous Joachim and Anna had long mourned their inability to conceive a child, and they prayed that God might release them from their barrenness. Through their unceasing prayer and almsgiving, their spirits were gradually cleansed, and their love for and loyalty to God grew as a flame. For their undertakings, the Lord vouchsafed them to bear the Most-Blessed Mary, the Mother of God Himself, chosen from among all nations.

Our holy fathers, the first archpastors and pastors of the Russian Church Abroad, mourned and fervently prayed here, in this holy hermitage. Among those who prayed here were St. John of San Francisco, Metropolitan Anastassy, Metropolitan Philaret, Archbishops Vitaly, Seraphim, Nikon, Averky, and many others. They prayed that God would deliver their much-suffering homeland from the godless communist regime and save the Russian people, who had been scattered throughout the world by the cruel fate of war. In 1950, the Sobor of Bishops, having gathered within these holy walls, addressed the Russian people with the following words: "May the image of our suffering homeland never fade from before our eyes, instead awakening in us an inextinguishable love and co-suffering with it and igniting within us the flame of prayer for her resurrection." This fervent and unceasing prayer cleansed the sins of the Russian people and today, by God’s mercy, our long-suffering homeland is being resurrected.

The communist occupation of Russia led to the creation of a new Russia, far from our birch-filled homeland. The New Kursk Root Hermitage bears witness to the Russian spirit and the faith of those who were forced to flee their beloved homeland. The founders of this hermitage dedicated their lived to the preservation of the ideals of Holy Russia far from their homeland.

Not long after its founding, the New Kursk Root Hermitage became the center of the Church Abroad and bore witness to the inextinguishable Divine Light of Orthodox Russia. Thanks to the ceaseless labors and prayers of our forebears, the land on which we stand today can be considered rightfully Russian. It is difficult for many of us to understand what it is like to be kicked out of your own home, seeing the annihilation of your brethren and the destruction of churches. Our forefathers lost everything and came to this wonderful country to build a new Russia, an Orthodox Russia. And they brought it up out of the ashes of the Revolution. Log by log, nail by nail, they built this church, dedicated to the Nativity of the Mother of God.

Over the last two decades, the New Kursk Root Hermitage experienced difficult times and decline. Despite all of the hardships, prayer never ceased here, and by God’s mercy and through the intercessions of the Queen of Heaven, today, before our very eyes, the rebirth of this holy place is underway. With the blessing of our First Hierarch, His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, and under the experienced guidance of the rector, Fr. Victor Tseshkovsky, the church is being adorned, the buildings are being repaired, the pilgrims are returning, and the "Home of the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora" is once more shining with the grace-filled spirit of Holy Russia.

Continuing the work begun by our fathers and the rebirth of the New Kursk Root Hermitage is not only the concern of the local parishioners, but is a matter of importance for the whole Diocese. Following the example of our Metropolitan, who has taken a most active role in the process of Mahopac’s rebirth, our duty is to support the rector and his pious laborers, continuing to build and restore that which was bequeathed to us by our holy fathers of the Russian Church Abroad. In doing this we are given a chance to take part in the current rebirth of Holy Russia. 

The reconstruction of the New Kursk Root Hermitage is but the beginning of a long road. Returning to our roots is the most obvious fulfillment of the will of our forebears. In order for us to restore the Diocese, we must beginning with its foundations, with the resurrection of our spiritual centers, such as Mahopac. We must return the traditions of old, on which the Russian Church Abroad was founded.

The road before us is hard, but if we will follow the example of the Holy Righteous Joachim and Anna, it will become much easier for us. The path of service to Christ’s Church on this earth leads to one final destination – eternal life. Building is easy, and these buildings will be built, but without sincere prayer and the dedication of our lives to Christ, we will lose sight of the one thing that is needful – acquiring eternal life with Christ. Amen.

After the Liturgy, a moleben was served and a procession was held around the church and main building, in which over 200 of the faithful took part. After the procession, Metropolitan Hilarion awarded a Synodal Gramota to Alexander and Irina Shendrick and Viktor Rusnak for their selfless and dedicated service to the parish. His Eminence greeted the rector and parishioners on the great feats of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos.

"It is wonderful to see so many pilgrims and parishioners filling the walls of this sacred and historic church once again. This holy hermitage experienced severe trials and tribulations over the past several years but, glory be to God, that is all in the past now. Seeing the progress of the extensive restoration work fills my heart with joy, because not only is this hermitage an historic place, it is an important holy and prayer-filled spiritual center for the Russian Church Abroad – the first ‘Home of the Theotokos,’ Protectress of the Russian Diaspora. Today we prayed especially for the founder of this hermitage, Archbishop Seraphim (Ivanov), and the different monks who toiled here for so many years, such wonderful spiritual laborers as Archimandrite Innocent (Bystrov) and Archimandrite Viktorin (Lyabakh).

We are eternally grateful to the rector, Archpriest Victor, and all the countless faithful and parishioners who are working to restore this holy place for the Glory of God and His Holy Mother. I encourage everyone to support this hermitage so that is may continue to grow and flourish.

I would also like to congratulate the newly ordained Fr. Deacon George, his Matushka Elizabeth, and the entire family on this joyous and grace-filled day of your ordination. Fr. George has worked tirelessly as the parish warden for many years, and now he has been called to a higher degree of service in the Church. I wish you many years of renewed spiritual strength and God’s inexhaustible aid as you begin your service to the Holy Church."

After the service, the parish sisterhood offered a bountiful luncheon in the new parish hall, during which a film on the resurrection of the New Kursk Root Hermitage, "Znamenie," produced by Maria Reshetnikova, was premiered. This unique film will be shown at the upcoming pastoral conference in Holy Trinity Monastery.

After the luncheon, a Litiya was served at the monastery cemetery for the ever-memorable Archbishop Seraphim (Ivanov) and the monks of the New Kursk Root Hermitage.

A great deal of interest has been expressed in the restoration work being done, and everyone has expressed joy at its successful continuation. All those interested in making a donation to the continued restoration should visit the parish website for more information: www.russian-church-mahopac.org or can send donations to the following address:

Mahopac Church Restoration Fund
 Box 240
 NY 10541-0240

Photographs of the feast day     Photographs of the scenic grounds of the Hermitage

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese