On Saturday, May 27, the parish Russian School at St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ held its graduation ceremony. That day, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan visited the Diocesan Center and took part in the celebrations. Upon his arrival at the diocesan cathedral, His Grace was greeted by cathedral dean and school principal Archpriest Serge Lukianov and the school’s administrators, teachers, and students.
Fr. Serge served a thanksgiving moleben for the end of the school year. Praying at the service were the cathedral’s pastor emeritus, Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov, and school instructor Archpriest Seraphim Chemodakov.
Upon completion of the moleben, a group photograph was taken on the front steps of the cathedral, and everyone proceeded across the street to the church hall, where Bishop Nicholas led the graduation ceremony. Prior to its start, everyone sang the American national anthem and the anthem of Imperial Russia – "God, save the Tsar!"
Addressing those gathered, His Grace recalled the years he himself spent in St. Alexander Nevsky Russian School: "These were joyous days, and I am sure that for all of you, these years of study are a joyous time, as well." Bishop Nicholas thanked the school’s spiritual mentors: Fr. Valery, Fr. Serge, and Fr. Seraphim for their colossal work, for "giving the students a wonderful example of how to be an Orthodox Christian."
Addressing the teachers and parents, Bishop Nicholas shared the words of the Holy Apostle Paul about how important it is to bring up the next generation "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4), and those of the Holy Hierarch Tikhon of Zadonsk: "Treat children thusly: ‘Remind them often of Holy Baptism and that at that time they promised God to live decently and steadfastly, to serve Him with faith and righteousness, and to keep away from every evil and sin.’" He asked the parents not to waste away their Saturdays, but to bring their children to the parish school, where they can "receive important instruction, learning to love God and one another," and called upon the children to always remember that God, His Most-Holy Mother, and the saints are with them, and to surround themselves with good friends, such as the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John was for Christ the Savior.
Bishop Nicholas especially congratulated the graduates: Alexander Mackanic, Maria Volsky, and Elizabeth Breibart, charging them not to forget their parish school and, when possible, to help the instructors in bringing up the younger children, pointing to their own good example.
His Grace presented the graduates and teachers commemorative gifts, and – for success in their studies – presented students with copies of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign."
Concluding the ceremonies, Fr. Valery Lukianov congratulated the graduates and expressed his thanks to the teachers and parents for continuing the good work of Orthodox education begun by their predecessors.
A graduation picnic was then held outdoors.