On Sunday, July 30, the annual St. Vladimir’s Day Celebrations were held at St. Vladimir Memorial Church to the Millennium of the Baptism of Rus’ in Jackson, NJ. On the eve of the feast, Saturday, July 29, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, led the All-Night Vigil in the church, co-served by Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal & Canada, Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, and local clergy. The celebrations themselves began with the celebration of hierarchal Divine Liturgy, led by Metropolitan Hilarion, co-served by Archbishop Gabriel & Bishop Nicholas. Concelebrating with the hierarchs were:
- Archpriest Alexander Belya (dean of New York City)
- Archpriest Serge Lukianov (Eastern American Diocesan secretary)
- Archpriest Liubo Milosevic (rector of Holy Trinity Church in Vineland, NJ)
- Archpriest Boris Slootsky (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ)
- Archpriest Rafael Melendez (cleric of the Albanian Orthodox Church)
- Hieromonk Arseny (Manko; diocesan cleric)
- Archpriest Paul Ivanov (rector of Holy Myrrhbearers Church in Brooklyn, NY)
- Archpriest Alexey Bocharnikov (rector of St. Nicholas Church in Chester, PA)
- Archpriest Seraphim Chemodakov (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral)
- Archpriest Petro Hnatkivskyy (diocesan cleric)
- Priest Serge Ledkovsky (deputy rector of the Memorial Church)
- Priest Valery Sukholobov (rector of Joy of All Who Sorrow Church in Philadelphia, PA)
- Priest Eugene Solodky (cleric of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA).
- Protodeacon Paul Wolkow (cleric of St. Seraphim Memorial Church in Sea Cliff, NY)
- Protodeacon Vadim Gan (cleric of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City)
- Protodeacon Leonid Roschko (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral); and
- Deacon Rostislav Zadorozhny (cleric of St. John the Forerunner Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY).
A combined choir of parishioners and guests under the direction of Deacon Alexander Petrovsky (cleric of the Mid-American Diocese) brilliantly sang the hymns of the Liturgy.
The wonderful weather aided this good work: a multitude of the faithful gathered for the service, traveling from New Jersey, New York, and elsewhere nearby. Tents were placed on the blacktop around the church, where guests to the feast were able to obtain spiritual literature, liturgical supplies, souvenirs, folk crafts, and local products.
For those were not able to fully participate in the celebrations, as well as for the workers and volunteers, an early Liturgy was celebrated in the lower St. Olga Church, led by Archpriest Alexander Golubov (cleric of St. Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in New York City), co-served by Protodeacon Paul Drozdowski (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral) and Deacon Alexey Golubov (cleric of St. Nicholas Cathedral).
Upon completion of the service, Archbishop Gabriel congratulated the faithful with the Sunday feast of the Resurrection, the feast day of the Holy Great Prince Vladimir & Great Princess Olga, and the feast of the Baptism of Rus’. His Eminence noted the importance of returning to one’s Orthodox roots, to piety and the holiness of one’s forebears.
The participants of the Celebrations then went in procession around the Memorial Church, bearing banners and icons, singing spiritual hymns; the procession concluded with a traditional blessing of the water, which those who wished were able to take home with them. In the church hall, the sisterhood prepared a delicious festal luncheon for the clergy, faithful, and guests, while a picnic was organized outdoors to the tune of Russian folk music.