On Thomas Sunday, April 23, His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, visited Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY and celebrated Divine Liturgy in the convent’s main St. Seraphim Cathedral. Every year, the parish of Holy Virgin Protection Church in Nyack, NY, as well as clergy and faithful from neighboring parishes, come to Novo-Diveevo Convent to pray together at the divine services and visit their departed loved ones at the convent cemetery, one of the largest in the Russian Diaspora.
The First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad brought with him the Holy Fire, which had descended in Jerusalem just the week prior and was brought to America in time for the Paschal services in New York City. The flame was solemnly carried into the cathedral, where the lanterns and altar candles were relit with the Holy Flame. Henceforth, all of the church candles will originate their flame from the newly obtained Holy Fire, tying the Old World and the New in prayer.
At Liturgy, Metropolitan Hilarion was co-served by:
- Archpriest Alexander Fedorowski (cathedral dean)
- Archpriest George Larin (pastor emeritus of Holy Protection Church in Nyack)
- Archpriest Ilya Gorsky (rector of Holy Protection Church in Nyack)
- Archpriest Yaroslav Belikow (convent cleric)
- Archpriest Vasiliy Raskovskiy (cleric of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City)
- Archpriest Ioann Chervinsky (cleric of the Diocese of Kursk)
- Abbot Photius (Oulanov; convent cleric)
- Hieromonk Eutychius (Dovganyuk; cleric of the Synodal Cathedral)
- Hieromonk Elevferiy (Skiba; dean of Inexhaustible Chalice Church in Brooklyn, NY)
- Hieromonk Nikolai (Letsin; cleric of the Synodal Cathedral)
- Priest Ignatius Green (cleric of Holy Protection Church in Nyack)
- Protodeacon Dimitri Temidis (cleric of Holy Protection Church in Nyack)
- Protodeacon Serge Arlievsky (convent cleric)
- Protodeacon Eugene Kallaur (cleric of St. Seraphim Memorial Church in Sea Cliff, NY)
- Protodeacon Dionysius Lvov (cleric of the Synodal Cathedral)
- Deacon Andrei Podymow (cleric of Holy Protection Church in Nyack).
In addition to the many faithful, standing at prayer in the cathedral were Abbess Makaria and the sisters of the Novo-Diveevo Convent.
At the Little Entrance, with the blessing of His Beatitude Onufry, Metropolitan of Kiev & All Ukraine, Hieromonk Elevferiy was elevated to the rank of archimandrite.
The joyous Paschal service was sung by a combined choir of singers from Novo-Diveevo and Nyack, under the shared direction of Matushka Maria Fedorowski and Reader Nicholas Ilyin, who led particularly touching pieces by the male choir during the communion of the clergy.
The church was filled to capacity, and many of the faithful stood outside in glorious weather given by the Lord after many days of rain. Though the forecast had called for more rain, instead the day was not too hot, not too cold, and the doors and windows of the cathedral were wide open to let in the fresh air.
A multitude of people confessed & communed and, following the service, processed to the center of the cemetery, where a general panihida was served for all of the hierarchs, clergy, monastics, and faithful buried at Novo-Diveevo. The faithful returned to the cathedral for a blessing and the kissing of the Cross, and the Paschal artos was distributed to those who had not received it the day prior, on Bright Saturday.
After a festal luncheon and a brief respite, Metropolitan Hilarion and the clergy – joined by Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan and other local clergy – tended to the faithful, who had scattered throughout the cemetery to prepare for panihidas at the graves of their loved ones. As the panihidas were being served throughout the afternoon, vendors from church bookstores and other charitable organizations sold spiritual literature, icons, eggs, and ethnic foods, while the convent sisterhood sold prepared baked goods to their guests.
Especially touching was a panihida served by Metropolitan at the grave of the newly departed Archdeacon Eugene Burbelo, who reposed on April 5. His Eminence met with Fr. Eugene’s family and again offered his sincerest condolences, warmly remembering the Archdeacon’s many years of service and friendship.
The crowds stayed at the cemetery until early evening, exchanging Paschal greetings and spending time with family and friends and their deceased loved ones. The spiritually uplifting, joyous day finally came to a close, and the faithful left with a firm intention to return again next year.