On Wednesday the 9th and Thursday the 10th of December, the patronal feast day of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City – the feast of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign," His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern American & New York, led the divine services in the cathedral. The First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad was co-served by members of the Synod of Bishops, who were holding a regular session of the Synod on December 8th:
- Archbishop Mark of Berlin, Germany & Great Britain;
- Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco & Western America;
- Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal & Canada;
- Bishop Peter of Cleveland, Administrator of the Mid-American Diocese;
- Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese; and
- Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA.
The hierarchs we co-served by Synodal and diocesan clergy. Singing the festal services was the Synodal choir, under the direction of Peter Fekula.
During the Communion of the clergy, Archpriest Yaroslav Belikow (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY) addressed the faithful with a sermon. Fr. Yaroslav offered some detail about the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God: "The Mother of God was incredibly humble, and today we honor her icon. The image is an interesting one: the Theotokos is not holding the Infant Christ in her arms. After Christ’s Resurrection, she took to preaching Christianity, and she was approached by people who asked her, doubtingly, ‘It is true that you are the mother of God?’ But she said nothing, and humbly raised up her arms, and over her womb appeared an image of the Savior, the Infant Christ. This event is relayed to us by Holy Tradition, and is the basis on which this composition of the icon was created."
Upon completion of the service, the hierarchs and clergy served a thanksgiving moleben before the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God.
Metropolitan Hilarion congratulated the clergy and parishioners of the cathedral on the occasion of the patronal feast day, and also congratulated Archbishop Mark of Berlin & Germany, who n 2015 marked 35 years of hierarchal service. In honor of this momentous occasion and on behalf of the Synod of Bishops, the Metropolitan presented Archbishop Mark the Russian Church Abroad’s highest award: the Order of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, 1st Class.
For their selfless labors on behalf of the Holy Church, Metropolitan Hilarion awarded Synodal Gramotas to Peter Fekula, director of the Synodal choir, to Matushka Irina Gan, and to Igor L. Astrakhankin, who dedicated much time and effort to work on the cathedral building.
The feast concluded with a reception in the cathedral hall, where the sisterhood prepared a bountiful lenten luncheon.