The first church founded in the Eastern American Diocese (itself organized in 1934) was dedicated to St. Alexander Nevsky, founded in Howell, New Jersey, in 1936, with the blessing of Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko). Eighty years later, the parish, which once had comprised a handful of parishioners gathering in a humble wooden chapel in the woods, has grown to be a cathedral, currently the Diocesan Center.
On December 3, the eve of the feast, the myrrh-streaming Hawaiian Montreal Iveron Icon of the Mother of God arrived at the cathedral, and joined the daily procession around the parish grounds.
On Saturday the 3rd and Sunday the 4th of December, the great feast of the Entrance into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos, the festal All-Night Vigil and Divine Liturgy in St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral were led by its rector – Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad. His Eminence was co-served by Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov (dean of New Jersey), Archpriest Serge Lukianov (Eastern American Diocesan secretary; cathedral dean), Archpriest Rafael Melendez (Albanian Orthodox Church), Archpriest Boris Slootsky (cathedral cleric), Archpriest Petro Kunitsky (cleric of Holy New Martyrs & Confessors of Russia Church in Brooklyn, NY), Abbot Constantine Kurkin (Moldovan Orthodox Church), Archpriest Daniel Metlenko (rector of St. Vladimir Church in Sydney, Australia), and Archpriest Seraphim Chemodakov, Protodeacons Nicholas Lukianov, Leonid Roschko, and Paul Drozdowski (cathedral clerics).
Parishioners and faithful from nearby parishes came to pray for the flourishing of the parish and the wellbeing of its clergy and all those who worship therein. Many communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries. Upon completion of the Liturgy, the Polychronion was intoned for His Holiness, the Patriarch, the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, the parish clergy, members of the sisterhood, choir, and parishioners.
Metropolitan Hilarion delivered a sermon on the history of the feast, and congratulated everyone present with the feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God, as well as with the anniversary of the parish’s founding. The Metropolitan spoke of the parish’s original founders, beginning with its principal founder, Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko). The protodeacon intoned "Memory Eternal" to Archbishop Vitaly, former rectors, benefactors, and parishioners. His Eminence also offered his traditional congratulations to the cathedral sisterhood, named in honor of the feast of the Entrance, recalled the reposed members of the sisterhood, and thanked all those who labor as members today.
As a gesture of deep gratitude for his many years of service and pastoral love on behalf of the entire parish, Fr. Valery was presented a hand-painted icon of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, one of whose number is the Holy Martyr Valerius, Heavenly patron of the longtime rector and builder of the diocesan cathedral.
A banquet was held in the parish hall, during which a film presentation was shown, depicting both the history of the parish and plans for its future. Specifically, the film touched on plans to obtain the neighboring property of Russian House "Rodina," and to construct thereon an "Orthodox Village."
The cathedral’s pastor emeritus, Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov, then shared his recollections about the development and growth of parish life and significant events in the history of the parish, to which both parish clergy and longtime parishioners had been witness over the years. The interaction of clergy and parishioners continued well into the afternoon, after which the clergy and faithful once more proceeded around the parish grounds with the myrrh-streaming Hawaiian Icon.
Metropolitan Hilarion leads 80th Anniversary of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral - 12/04/16
Photos by P. Lukianov & G. Konyev
Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese ROCOR