On Monday, February 16, the feast day of the Holy Hierarch Nicholas of Japan, His Grace, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, celebrated the Divine Liturgy in honor of his namesday in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City. Among those who came together to concelebrate with and congratulate His Grace were: Archpriest Andrei Sommer (senior priest of the cathedral), Archpriest Serge Lukianov (Eastern American Diocesan secretary), Archpriest George Kallaur (rector of Unexpected Joy Church on Staten Island, NY), Archpriest Constantine Semyanko (cleric of Holy Presentation Church in Stratford, CT), Archpriest Petro Kunitsky (cleric of Holy New Martyrs & Confessors of Russia Church in Brooklyn, NY), Archpriest Alexandre Antchoutine (member of the Diocesan Council), Hieromonks Eutychius (Dovganyuk) and Zosimas (Krampis; Synodal clerics), Protodeacon Igor Panachev (cleric of St. Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in New York City), and Protodeacon Vadim Gan and Deacons Nazari Fataliev and Dionysius Lvov (Synodal clerics). Praying in the altar was Archpriest Serafim Gan (chancellor of the Synod of Bishops).
Placed on the analogion in honor of the feast was an icon of St. Nicholas of Japan, painted in the land in which the saint had preached. Upon completion of the Liturgy, Bishop Nicholas addressed the faithful with a sermon, in which he spoke about the life of the saint – our contemporary, glorified by the Orthodox Church only 45 years ago. "We live in darkness, we are blind." said His Grace. "The Lord – the true Light – is with us, but we not only do not see the Light, we do not want to let it in. It tries to enlighten and illumine us, but we remain blind. The Holy Hierarch Nicholas of Japan let that Light in, opened his heart and his mind to welcome Christ in and, fearing not, went to preach in a dark and pagan land. And the Light illumined those in the land of Japan. We are Orthodox Christians, and it is a shame that we do not wish to see the Light, to accept it and enlighten others. It is difficult to do when we are surrounded by atrocities, troubles, sin, and immorality. It was difficult for St. Nicholas, as well. In his diary, he wrote, ‘It is difficult here; I do not know why I have come,’ wrote the hierarch. ‘But for Christ’s sake and the sake of these good people, I will endure, and illumine all.’ What an example this is for us, we who cannot even illumine our own family and friends. He bore the Light of Christ, such that that Light shone through him. And the Lord glorified him for enlightening the people of pagan Japan." Bishop Nicholas called his heavenly intercessor a living example for all of us, and called on the faithful to make every effort to themselves let in the Light of Christ and illumine "those in darkness."
On behalf of the staff of the Synod of Bishops, Fr. Andrei Sommer congratulated Bishop Nicholas and presented him with antique Athonite prayer beads, which had belonged to Archbishop Nikon (Rklitsky). In the 1960s, Archbishop Nikon presented these beads as a gift to Archpriest Rostislav Gan during his second visit to Australia with the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God.
In honor of Bishop Nicholas’ namesday, a reception and bountiful luncheon, prepared by the sisterhood of the Synodal Cathedral, was offered for the clergy and parishioners in the Synodal hall. His Grace was greeted by Fr. Serafim Gan, who spoke about the history of the prayer beads that had been presented to the bishop for his namesday. Fr. Serge Lukianov highly praised Bishop Nicholas’ prayerful interaction with the clergy and parishioners of the Eastern American Diocese, and wished him strength and fortitude in the carrying of his hierarchal cross, particularly in his new obedience as chairman of the Diocesan Youth Committee. On the threshold of Great Lent, on behalf of the clergy and faithful of the Eastern American Diocese, he presented the Diocesan vicar with a cross and panagia carved from Russian wood. Bishop Nicholas was also greeted by Fr. George Kallaur, Fr. Alexandre Antchoutine, Prince Vladimir Galitzine, and representatives of the cathedral sisterhood. During the festal luncheon, the parishioners and clergy had ample opportunity to interact with one another.