On Tuesday the 14th and Wednesday the 15th of February, the great feast of the Meeting of the Lord, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York paid an archpastoral visit to Holy Presentation Church in Stratford, CT, and led the divine services therein in honor of the parish’s patronal feast day.
At the All-Night Vigil, the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad was co-served by Archpriests George Lardas (rector of St. Nicholas Church in Stratford), Brendan Crowley (rector of St. Nicholas Church in Enfield, CT), Vladimir Kovalchuk (cleric of the Diocese of Chernovtsy UOC), and Constantine Semyanko (parish rector), Hieromonk Tikhon (Gayfudinov; rector of Holy Protection Skete in Buena, NJ), and Protodeacon Paul Giatas (cleric of St. Nicholas Church in Stratford).
The following morning, Metropolitan Hilarion celebrated Divine Liturgy, co-served by Fr. Constantine, Fr. Vladimir, Fr. Tikhon, and Fr. Paul, as well as Protodeacon Serge Arlievsky (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY). Fr. Tikhon delivered a sermon on the topic of the feast of the Meeting of the Lord.
Upon completion of Liturgy, the Metropolitan congratulated Fr. Constantine and the parishioners on the occasion of their patronal feast, and also made note of the words offered by His Holiness, Patriarch Kyrill, on this feast day, which since 2002 has been designated as "Orthodox Youth Day:"
"Speaking to His disciples, and through them to all of us, it was not by chance that the Lord called them ‘the salt of the earth’ and ‘the light of the world’ (Matthew 5:13-14). Just as salt substantially improves the taste of food and keeps it from spoiling, so Christians are called upon to transform the world by the power of their compelling witness of the Crucified and Risen Jesus, showing themselves by their acts of love and mercy to be true followers of the Savior. These words possess special resonance and significance in relation to our youth, who are traditionally the more active participants in social life, and are capable of exerting no small measure of influence on the processes within it. God grant that the ‘salt’ of your faith might never lose his savor (Matthew 5:13), and the light of your good works shine brightly to those near and far, and glorify the name of our Father which is in Heaven (Matthew 5:16), and fortify the Faith of Christ in the hearts of your contemporaries."
After Liturgy, a festal luncheon was offered in the parish hall.