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
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
New Kursk Root Hermitage in Mahopac, NY.
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
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
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
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
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."
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
PO Box 240
Mahopac, NY 10541-0240
Photographs of the feast day
Photographs of the scenic grounds of the Hermitage
Office of the Eastern American Diocese