On Monday, December 19, the feast day of the Holy Hierarch Nicholas, Wonderworker of Myra in Lycia, the Divine Liturgy in St. Nicholas Stavropegial Monastery in North Ft. Myers, FL, was celebrated by the monastery’s abbot, Archimandrite Alexander (Belya).
The abbot was co-served by Archpriest Roman Baranovsky (dean of hospital chapels in Kiev), Archimandrite Barsanuphius (Podyma; cleric of the UOC Diocese of Voznesensk), Archpriest John Verenka (cleric of the UOC Diocese of Chernovtsy), and Priest Constantine Desrosiers (cleric of St. Xenia’s Church in Methuen, MA, who also serves as assistant priest at St. Nicholas Monastery).
The festal divine service began with the peal of bells, summoning all to prayer. The Lord thus ordained that even those faithful living beyond the borders of Florida were in attendance. Many parishioners came from St. Matrona’s Church in Dania Beach (near Miami), as well as from neighboring Ft. Myers parishes. The Liturgy on the feast of St. Nicholas gathered faithful of many ethnicities under the cupola of the monastery’s main church: Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Moldovans, Americans, Serbs, Greeks, and others. Many were in attendance, and the church was filled to capacity.
The feast in honor of one of the most revered Christian saints was adorned with the melodious singing of the choir.
Upon completion of the service, Fr. Alexander congratulated all those in attendance with the feast of the Holy Hierarch Nicholas – one of the most beloved feasts of children and adults alike – and spoke briefly about the life and miracles of this God-pleasing saint, who is the Heavenly patron of travelers, sailors, and young children.
Fr. Alexander also spoke about the history of St. Nicholas Monastery, noting that the first period of its existence was marked by the tireless labors of its founder, Schema-Archimandrite John (Lewis); in the second period of its existence, the monastery was kept open thanks to the dedication of Mother-Abbess Andrea; now the monastery is in its third period, during which the first Russian monastery in Florida must become a jewel and spiritual center of the region. Speaking about the contemporary life of the monastic community, Fr. Alexander noted that two novices now labor here, as well as several individuals who come to toil and assist the monastery.
The abbot also thanked all of the clergy and parishioners who attended the feast.
After the service, a procession was held with an icon of St. Nicholas recently brought from Russia specially for the monastery.
Concluding the feats was a luncheon served in the monastery refectory. Everyone wishing the take part in the luncheon was not able to fit indoors, and so several people ate in the fresh air.
Those who came to the monastery that day were put in a spiritually uplifted mood, and expressed their desire to return once more.
North Ft. Myers, FL: Patronal Feast Day of St. Nicholas Monastery - 12/19/16