On Saturday the 18th and Sunday the 19th of July, a dual feast awaited the clergy, parishioners, and guests of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ. On July 18, prior to the beginning of the All-Night Vigil, the myrrh-streaming Hawaiian-Iveron Icon of the Mother of God arrived at the cathedral from Jordanville, NY. The clergy came out to greet the Most Holy Theotokos and returned in procession to the cathedral, where the Icon was greeted by His Grace, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, who led the All-Night Vigil. His Grace was co-served by cathedral and visiting clergy. Upon completion of Vigil, the clergy and faithful piously venerated the myrrh-streaming Icon; the faithful were anointed with myrrh from the holy Icon, and each also received a piece of cotton soaked in holy myrrh.
Made in Russia, the copy of the vanished Montreal-Iveron Icon of the Mother of God was given as a gift to Subdeacon Nektarios, a parishioner of Holy Theotokos of Iveron Church in Honolulu, HI, and in 2007 – the year of the restoration of canonical communion between the Church Abroad and the Mother Church in Russia – began to abundantly stream myrrh.
Sunday, July 19, began with the greeting of the Most Blessed Onufry, Metropolitan of Kiev & All Ukraine. His Beatitude arrived in the U.S. in order to take part in the OCA’s XVIII All-American Council, which will be opening on July 20 in Atlanta, GA. Metropolitan Onufry is accompanied by His Grace, Bishop Eusebius, vicar of the Diocese of Chernovtsy & Bukovina. On July 18, Metropolitan Onufry, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, and Bishop Eusebius visited Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, where they celebrated Divine Liturgy, and where Metropolitan Onufry served a panihida for his brother-concelebrant, Metropolitan Laurus (Skurla; +2008).
A multitude of parishioners and guests gathered in St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral, including many former parishioners and spiritual children of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Onufry, who before being elected to the Kievan See had served as Metropolitan of Chernovtsy & Bukovina.
Greeting the Primate of the UOC, Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov (dean of New Jersey) recalled Metropolitan Onufry’s prior visits to the cathedral, expressed his condolences toward the longsuffering Ukrainian people, and wished His Beatitude God’s mercy, health, and salvation for many years.
At the Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Onufry was co-served by Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, and Bishop Eusebius of Khotin, as well as parish, diocesan, and visiting clergy. Singing the Liturgy was the cathedral choir, under the direction of Alexandra Lukianov.
At the culmination of the Liturgy, a multitude of the faithful communed from three chalices.
Greeting the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Hilarion thanked Metropolitan Onufry for visiting the cathedral and Holy Trinity Monastery, and for their joint service and prayer, which brought joy to the clergy and parishioners and would long stay in their hearts. He likewise wished him God’s aid in his primatial calling. In honor of their shared prayer in St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, he presented Metropolitan Onufry with a copy of the myrrh-streaming Hawaiian-Iveron Icon of the Mother of God.
In response, His Beatitude expressed his joy at concelebrating with the bishops and clergy, many of whom had foregone serving in their own churches on this Sunday in order to come to the diocesan cathedral for the joint service.
"I have been in this church many times, owing to the fact that my relatives and many friends live here – regardless of nationality, they are all simply Orthodox Christians," said the Most Blessed Metropolitan. "I am very grateful to Fr. Valery, who built this cathedral. Laboring under his direction were his sons, his whole family, and all of the parishioners – they all labored in order to create this beauty, this marvelous church. Everything here is appointed magnificently, and every time I visited here, everything guided one to prayer: the service, the singing, and the architectural splendor."
His Beatitude continued: "Today, times are difficult: human blood is being shed in Ukraine. No one can justify the killing, because there are always peaceful paths to resolving every problem. We always speak of this, bear witness to this, and pray for peace. I know that you pray here for peace in Ukraine. The Lord gives us trials, and we must bear them, not only preserving our Christian dignity, but even our basic human dignity. No man can go through this earthly life without trials, no matter where he lives: in America, Australia, or Ukraine, there will always be trials that will painfully manifest themselves in human life." Metropolitan Onufry wished the faithful God’s aid in the bearing of their trials with prayer, gratitude, and repentance, and wished them all God’s mercy and good health.
His Beatitude congratulated cathedral dean Archpriest Serge Lukianov, who one day earlier had celebrated his namesday, and presented him a jubilee jeweled pectoral cross dedicated to the 1000th anniversary of the repose of the Holy Equal-of-the-Apostles Great Prince Vladimir.
"Welcome home!" Fr. Serge greeted the honored guest in English. He recalled how Metropolitan Onufry had visited the church before the Reunification of the two parts of the Russian Church. Today Metropolitan Onufry served in the cathedral for the first time as Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, to the joy of the clergy and faithful, who this day received the great gift of interacting with an archpastor and individual who is the embodiment of spiritual fortitude, Heavenly wisdom, and true monastic humility.
Upon completion of the service, a banquet was held in the parish hall for the hierarchs, clergy, and faithful.