On Friday the 17th and Saturday the 18th of July, His Grace, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, led the patronal feast day of St. Elizabeth the New-Martyr Church in Rocky Hill, NJ.
St. Elizabeth the New-Martyr Church was originally founded on its feast day, July 5/18, 1998, in the city of Somerville, NJ. In 2004, when the parish obtained a magnificent former Catholic church of the Holy Apostles James, it moved to its current site on Princeton Avenue in Rocky Hill. The building, erected in 1905, was renovated to reflect the style of a true Orthodox church. This year, the parish marks the 17th anniversary of its founding.
This is Bishop Nicholas’ second visit to St. Elizabeth Church. His Grace’s first visit here was during the first week of Great Lent, when he read the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. This time, the bishop led both festal services: the All-Night Vigil and Divine Liturgy. His Grace was co-served by parish rector Archpriest David Straut, parish Deacons Seraphim Komleski and Steven Barker, and Deacon Paul Drozdowski (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ).
At the Sixth Hour, Bishop Nicholas ordained Reader Philip Hotz a subdeacon. During Liturgy, Subdeacon Stephanos Bibas was ordained to the diaconate. Also praying at the service was His Grace, Bishop Saba, head of the Georgian Apostolic Church in North America.
Upon completion of the service, Bishop Nicholas addressed the parishioners with a sermon, in which he expounded upon the marvelous example set for those newly converted to Orthodoxy by the life and service of the Nun-Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth, who herself had converted to Orthodoxy from the Protestant Faith. His Grace also spoke about her love for her new homeland – Russia, and about how she truly lived out her Russian Orthodox Faith, which can serve as an inspiration for Russians, as well. "Like the other members of the Royal Family, after the Revolution – which was a catastrophe for Russia – she could have fled the country, but they all chose to remain in Russia and share the fate of their people. The example set by the Nun-Martyr Elizabeth inspires us to forgive our enemies, just as she forgave her husband’s murderer. She teaches us humility through her readiness to abdicate all wealth and privilege, choosing to follow the monastic path, following the death of her husband, the Grand Duke Sergey. St. Elizabeth motivates us to follow her example, helping the poor and those in misfortune in this world, not only caring for the sick and needy in the Convent of Sts. Martha & Mary that she founded, but with the last of her strength caring for the wounded suffering with her in the mineshaft in Alapaevsk."
For clergy, parishioners, and guests alike, the parish’s patronal feast day became a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the life of its Heavenly intercessor – the Nun-Martyr Elizabeth, and to pray and interact with one another.