March 6, 2013
Howell, NJ: Metropolitan Hilarion led the celebrations in honor of Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov’s 50th Anniversary of Clerical Service

On Sunday, March 3, parishioners of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Howell, NJ, celebrated the 50th anniversary of rector Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov’s ordination. Fr. Valery is the senior-most cleric of the Eastern American Diocese, and was ordained to the diaconate on February 21, 1963 by St. John of Shanghai & San Francisco.

The Divine Liturgy was led by the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, co-served by Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal & Canada, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop George of Mayfield, and a multitude of local clergy from neighboring parishes.

After the Eucharistic Canon, Subdeacon Michael Lillie was ordained to the diaconate. The newly ordained Deacon Michael, currently a seminarian at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, will fulfill his service at St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Mayfield, PA.

At the conclusion of the Liturgy, in accordance with a resolution of the ROCOR Synod of Bishops, Fr. Valery was awarded the Order of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, 1st Class. Matushka Irene Lukianov was awarded a Diocesan Gramota, which stated:

Celebrating 50 years of Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov’s pastoral service, we would be remiss in omitting the name of the long and faithful service to the Holy Orthodox Church of his matushka in the parish of the Holy Right-Believing Grand Prince Alexander Nevsky in Howell, New Jersey. Over the course of 50 years, you have helped your spouse carry his weighty pastoral cross in your capacity as wife and mother.

You have dedicated your life to working with the parishioners entrusted by the Lord to Fr. Valery. You supported him in difficult and joyous moments alike, at all times putting your hope in God and His Most Pure Mother.

Having actively participated in the parish choir and sisterhood, for years you labored tirelessly and often unnoticed, in the fear of God and to the glory of His Holy Name. Raising five children, you continued sharing your love with your parish family, which knows you at a kind and gentle mother. May the Lord reward you with blessed success in this temporal life, and grant you eternal salvation in the life to come.

Metropolitan Hilarion congratulated Fr. Valery and Matushka Irene and thanked them for their many years of dedicated service to the Holy Church. A celebratory banquet was held in the parish hall, during which many congratulatory greetings were heard. A slideshow of over 200 photographs from Fr. Valery’s pastoral career was presented, followed by a keynote address by diocesan secretary and son of Fr. Valery Archpriest Serge Lukianov, who said the following:

After seeing so many wonderful photographs of the 50-year path of Fr. Valery and Matushka Irene, I think that the time has come to ask ourselves a question – why are we here? Why have we gathered together from all corners of the world in this little town of Howell NJ? Did we come here just to tip our hats and glasses to the honorees? No. We came here today because of one word – love. It’s so simple and yet so incredibly complicated. Picture all of your fondest memories of Fr. Valery and Matushka. What is the common factor in all of them? Love! The Church of Christ and our whole existence are built on love. In the words of St. Paul – "Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law" (Romans 13:8). This example of genuine Christian piety and humility they received from their God-fearing parents – Archpriest Peter and Matushka Raisa Mocharsky and Semeon Mikhailovich and Zoya Stepnovna Lukianov…

Fr. Valery lived in a time when spiritual giants walked freely among us in America. While he did receive the grace of the Holy Spirit through the hands of St. John, he received his spiritual armor in the form of his proximity to such holy men as Metropolitan Philaret, Archbishop Nikon, Archbishop Averky, Fr. Seraphim Rose, Fr. Constantine (Zaitsev), Archpriest Peter Mocharsky, and many more. He wrote his own books, but he also compiled books of the writings of these great luminaries, so that the founding principles of ROCOR might be preserved and passed on to us and to our children’s children.

As we look back on this grace-filled 50-year path, and seeing the monumental events taking place in our own time, we ask ourselves, "What now?" I think the best gift, the best sign of appreciation we can give to Fr. Valery and Matushka Irene would be to wholeheartedly embrace and understand the true beauty and splendor of a life in Christ, centered around the Holy Church. This is the life that they live and, despite all of the sorrows, misfortunes, and temptations that they had to endure, the Lord has been merciful to them.

As the years go by, we grow wiser and we begin to understand that what we have in people like Fr. Valery and Matushka is a bridge to a glorious past. And as that bridge gets shorter with every day, we start to finally see what is really important. We know that, without love, we cannot achieve eternal salvation, but without the Church to direct our life, we cannot possibly begin to comprehend the true meaning of love…

The banquet concluded with a speech from Fr. Valery, in which he thanked all of his spiritual teachers and the faithful that have helped him along his 50-year path of service to the Church. Fr. Valery said:

The path of priestly service is that of seeing to the spiritual nourishment of hundreds, even thousands of human souls, with one goal in mind – their salvation for eternity. What methods might one implement to achieve their salvation? How might one reconcile man to God? How might one lift the spirits of the grieving, the ailing, and the despairing?

To find an answer, we turn to the Holy Apostle Paul, who in his testament to the Thessalonian flock wrote: rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks unto God.

Over the past fifty years, our shared path to paradise, to the Kingdom of Heaven, was always in keeping with this testament. We had need to rejoice with those who rejoiced, and weep with those who wept. And this would all melt away in our common prayer. This path wove its way through fifty prostrations before the Cross, to fifty luminous, joyous, all-enlightening Paschal feasts…

I thank the Lord that He gave me a faithful life companion in my Matushka Irina, a true friend, and a loving, king, caring, hardworking and self-sacrificing wife and mother, who dedicated her whole life to God, to her family, and to others…

It is my obligation to prayerfully remember my spiritual elders and teachers: St. John, Metropolitan Philaret, Archbishop Averky, Archimandrite Konstantin, and other Spirit-bearing luminaries, who led me through seminary and generally along all of life’s paths. There is no doubt that the result of their aspirations for me were my published spiritual labors: writings on the Church, on the saints, on pastorship, on a life in God, and on the youth…

It is my lot now, my pleasant duty, on behalf of Matushka Irina and myself, to personally express our deepest gratitude to our Archpastors, who saw fit to honor our family’s feast today, as well as all of my brother-concelebrants…

As I draw to a close, I can fairly bear witness and say that I would not be here today, were it not for the actions of loving spiritual father, the clairvoyant St. John. Now, having joined the choirs of the saints, he lifts up his prayers to the Almighty for all of us who honor his memory and rejoice in his intercession and miraculous gifts.

Thank God for everything!

The editors of the official website of the Eastern American Diocese congratulate Fr. Valery and Matushka Irene on this monumental milestone – their 50th anniversary of service to the Church.

Republication of materials must include a reference to: 
"Eastern American Diocese"

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese