On Friday evening, January 6 – the Eve of Christ’s Nativity – the festal Vigil began quietly and triumphally in Nativity of the Mother of God Church at the New Kursk Root Hermitage in Mahopac, NY. The divine services were led by His Grace, Bishop Jerome, who was co-served by parish clerics: Priest George Temidis and Deacon Alexey Pnev. After the service, all of the parishioners sat down for the traditional lenten dinner: a humble meal of sochivo porridge, honey, and bread.
As they began to depart, the snow outside crunched beneath their feet; the moon shone in the sky, surrounded by stars; and in the nightly glow, the church itself appears to be a great ship, slowly sailing the sea of life. Christ is born, glorify Him!
In the frosty morning, a large number of parishioners and guests converged for the festal Liturgy on the radiant day of Christ’s Nativity. A majority of worshippers communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
At the luncheon that followed, journalist and friend of the parish Maria Reshetnikova thanked parishioners for the funds they had raised to benefit children in the Ukraine, as well as six parishioners in particular who had personally sponsored several sick children. Maria presented the church with a small box containing an icon of the Holy Hierarch John of Shanghai & San Francisco and some memorabilia she had brought with her from Shanghai: soil, a bush branch, and a piece of the wooden frame of the altar door from the currently defunct Shanghai cathedral.
People interacted over luncheon, exchanging gifts and sharing Christmas joy, not wishing to soon depart.
New windows were installed in the church for the feast, and a section of wall and the door leading to the belfry were replaced. Restoration and cleaning work on the church’s ceiling frescoes continues.