On Thursday, December 22, the feast day of the Icon of the Mother of God "Unexpected Joy," Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, vicar of the Eastern American Diocese, celebrated Divine Liturgy in the church of the same name on Staten Island, NY.
His Grace was co-served by Archpriest Serge Lukianov (diocesan secretary), Archpriest Petro Kunitsky (cleric of Holy New Martyrs & Confessors of Russia Church in Brooklyn, NY), Hieromonk Vladimir (Zgoba; parish rector), and Protodeacon Leonid Roschko (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ). Also praying in church was former rector Archpriest George Kallaur. The parish choir sang prayerfully under the direction of Matushka Tatiana Kallaur.
Exactly one year ago, also on the parish’s patronal feast day, Bishop Nicholas served the first Divine Liturgy in the new church building. This year, His Grace noted how much had been accomplished in the church in the intervening time. Parishioners and faithful from other churches in Brooklyn and Manhattan came to pray at the divine service for the feast.
Upon completion of the Liturgy, Bishop Nicholas blessed an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos on the church’s façade.
Greeting the clergy and faithful on the occasion of the patronal feast day, His Grace spoke about the history of the icon "Unexpected Joy," and reminded those gathered about the need to thank the Lord God and reverence the icons of the Heavenly Queen.
The parish sisterhood prepared a lenten festal luncheon for the clergy and parishioners, during which everyone conversed and exchanged reminiscences of parish life. It is of note that the Church of our Lady "Unexpected Joy" on Staten Island is the only church named for this icon in the Russian Church Abroad, and only one of two in the United States (the second being in the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church in America).