On Tuesday, June 6, the third day of the feast of Holy Pentecost, a group of pilgrims comprised of 70 parishioners of St. John the Forerunner Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY visited Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY, roughly 30 miles from Manhattan.
Novo-Diveevo Convent has a special place in the life of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. It was founded in the middle of the 20th century by Archpriest Adrian Rymarenko – a native of the Ukraine and spiritual disciple of the last elders of the Optina Hermitage. Later, Fr. Adrian would receive monastic tonsure with the name Andrew, and be consecrated Bishop of Rockland, vicar of the Eastern American Diocese. At Fr. Adrian’s initiative, the convent was built, along with a retirement home and a cemetery. The holy habitation grew significantly in the 1960-70s; at that time, nearly fifty nuns fulfilled their obediences here. As Fr. Adrian had envisioned, the largest Russian cemetery in America was also founded here, today the final resting place of over 9,000 people, including Bishop Andrew himself, as well as representatives of many renowned aristocratic houses: Trubetskoy, Bagration, Golitsyn/Galitzine, Wolkonsky, Lopuchin/Lopoukhine, and others.
After reading morning prayers on the bus and listening to the life of Blessed Matrona of Moscow, Archpriest Alexander Belya (rector of St. John the Forerunner Cathedral, leading the pilgrimage) shared several instructive words with the pilgrims about the significant of traveling to the holy places, and the beneficial influence of such places on the believer.
On convent grounds, the pilgrims were greeted by its rectress, Abbess Makaria (Fadina) and one of its clerics, Archpriest Mark Burachek. The guests were taken to see the convent’s St. Seraphim of Sarov Cathedral, led by the cathedral dean, Archpriest Alexander Fedorowski. After the faithful had venerated the icons, Fr. Alexander Belya, joined by Brooklyn cathedral cleric Archpriest Vasily Yurina, served an akathist to the Most-Holy Trinity.
Upon completion of the service, the rector of the Brooklyn cathedral congratulated the Mother-Abbess, the cathedral dean, and the pilgrims with the feast of Holy Pentecost. He spoke about how in 2017, the 10th anniversary of the restoration of unity between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate, he hoped to visit the holy places with his parishioners and, by God’s grace, was able to find good people willing to provide a bus for this pilgrimage trip. Fr. Alexander also reminded them, that being prayerfully commemorated this year is the centennial of the beginning of the martyric struggle of the Russian Confessors of the 20th century; he spoke about the date’s significance for every Orthodox Christian. The rector also spoke about the émigrés and their struggles in coming to America. Bearing witness to the many immigrants from Russia in those days are the rows of tombstones in the convent’s cemetery. "Today’s pilgrimage is a small part of our Faith and our contribution to these anniversary dates," noted Fr. Alexander.
Concluding, the rector thanked the rectress and dean for their reception at the convent, after which the Polychronion was sung for Metropolitan Hilarion, Abbess Makaria, the convent clergy, and all those present.
Once they had been acquainted with the holy icons, relics, and other sights of Novo-Diveevo Convent, the Abbess organized a luncheon for the pilgrims. At lunch, Fr. Alexander Belya noted the labors on behalf of the convent and the Russian Church Abroad of Fr. Alexander Fedorowski, who will soon turn 87 years old.
At the end of their visit, the pilgrims visited the convent’s bookstore, where everyone was able to purchase spiritual literature and implements for prayer.
Upon their return to New York City, the faithful thanked God and all who helped to organize the trip. Parishioners hope that, by God’s grace, pilgrimages this year will continue to other monasteries of the Russian Church Abroad in America, as well. One such plan includes a visit in the near future to Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY.