On Friday, January 20, the feast of the Synaxis of the Holy Prophet & Baptist of the Lord John, the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, led the patronal feast day of St. John the Forerunner Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY. His Eminence brought with him from St. Nicholas Monastery in North Ft. Myers, FL a piece of the relics of St. John the Baptist, for veneration by the faithful and for their spiritual fortification. The holy relic was placed within an analogion icon of the Holy Prophet John.
At the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence was co-served by cathedral rector Archpriest Alexander Belya, Archpriest Serge Lukianov (Eastern American Diocesan secretary), Archpriest Luke Novakovic (cleric of St. Nicholas Monastery), Archpriest Petro Kunitsky (cleric of Holy New Martyrs & Confessors of Russia Church in Brooklyn), Abbot Photius (Oulanov; cleric of Holy Virgin Intercession Church in Glen Cove, NY), Archpriest Vasily Yurina (cleric of the Diocese of Mukachevo UOC), Hieromonks Vladimir (Zgoba; rector of Our Lady "Unexpected Joy" Church on Staten Island, NY) and Nikolai (Letsin; cleric of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City), Protodeacons Leonid Roschko (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ) and Dionysius Lvov (cleric of the Synodal Cathedral), and Deacon Rostislav Zadorozhny (cathedral cleric).
Praying at the divine services was a multitude of parishioners and faithful from the churches of New York City, many of whom communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries. Upon completion of the Liturgy, Metropolitan Hilarion blessed an icon of the Mother of God "Our Lady of Seven Sorrows" (Semistrelnaya), which was painted in the Kiev Caves Lavra and will now adorn the cathedral.
His Eminence congratulated the rector – Archpriest Alexander Belya – clergy, and parishioners on the occasion of the parish’s patronal feast, and addressed the faithful with a sermon, in which he spoke about the significance of St. John the Baptist as an example of repentance and salvation, and said, in part: "Saint John was a took part in building up the house of God for our salvation. Our Lord Jesus Christ had great respect for St. John the Baptist, saying of him, ‘Among them that are born of women there hath not risen one greater.’ He was a prophet who not only called the people to repentance and cleansed them, but became a martyr for the truth, having rebuked King Herod, for which he suffered. Today we glorify St. John and ask his prayers for us, for the Holy Church, and for this temple, dedicated in his memory."
Metropolitan Hilarion then make special note of the great service performed by several of the church’s laborers and benefactors, who have done much to aid the parish. In recognition of their zealous labors on behalf of the Orthodox Church, the Jubilee Order of the 100th Anniversary of the Repose of the Holy Hierarch Raphael of Brooklyn was presented to: Michael and Ruslan Kadar – each received the Order 1st Class; and Karen Avanesov, who received the Order 2nd Class. Hierarchal gramotas were presented to Natalya Orlov, Alexander Almonti, and Ivan Sikora.
Fr. Alexander thanked Metropolitan Hilarion for his visit and joint service, expressing his spiritual joy at the arrival of the relics of St. John the Baptist. The rector was likewise greeted by diocesan secretary and rector of neighboring Holy New Martyrs & Confessors of Russia Church Fr. Serge Lukianov, who presented Fr. Alexander with a set of green chalice covers to honor the occasion of his patronal feast.
The feast concluded with a luncheon for the clergy and laborers of the church, during which their productive interaction continued.