On Saturday, October 13, in Garfield, NJ’s magnificent Orthodox church, consecrated in 1984 to the Three Great Teachers and Hierarchs of the Church ‒ Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom, the joint pastoral conference of clerics of the Eastern American Diocese of the Russian Church Abroad and the Moscow Patriarchate drew to a close. Early that morning, the clergy gathered in the parish hall, donning their vestments and lining up for a triumphal procession, which would soon depart for the church. The hierarchs came here as well; all were awaiting that great holy image ‒ the myrrh-streaming Hawaiian Iveron Icon of the Mother of God. The hierarchs venerated the Icon, and the clergy formed a long train behind the wonderworking image of the Mother of God. The procession, with the clergy, Cossack representatives, and bishops, makes its way to the church.
The triumphal Liturgy was celebrated by the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York. He was co-served by His Eminence Pavel, Metropolitan of Ryazan and Mikhailovsk; His Eminence Justinian, Archbishop of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA; and Their Graces, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishops George of Mayfield and Jerome of Manhattan. Singing at the Liturgy was Moscow’s Sretensky Monastery Choir, under the direction of Nikon Zhila.
Taking part in the service were 124 priests and deacons; almost 500 people were present at the Liturgy. That day, over 300 of the faithful partook of Christ’s Holy Mysteries, and throughout the service and after its conclusion around 1,000 people came to the church and venerated the myrrh-streaming Hawaiian Icon of the Mother of God.
Throughout the service, a Cossack Honor Guard kept watch over the Icon, while order in the church was maintained by members of the Association of Russian Explorers (NORR). Upon completion of the Liturgy, the superior of Moscow’s Sretensky Monastery, Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), delivered the sermon.
Metropolitans Hilarion and Pavel spoke on the significance of unity. As a sign of hospitality and in recognition for their participation in the joint pastoral conference, Metropolitan Hilarion presented Metropolitan Pavel and his brother-bishops serving in America copies of the Hawaiian Icon of the Mother of God. Copies of the same were distributed to the members of the Sretensky Choir.
Clergy of the Russian Church Abroad and the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, truly feeling the brotherly unity in Christ realized and fortified that day, had much to share one with another. Their matushkas, meanwhile, of whom there were about 40 at the conference, took on one additional role on this triumphal day, photographing and filming all that took place.
Outside, in the church complex, the faithful were able to obtain Archimandrite Tikhon’s recent bestseller, "Everyday Saints," in English and Russian, and were able to get the author’s autograph. Saturday’s triumphal service was very reminiscent of the scene in the Moscow Kremlin in May 2007, where, on a similarly sunny day, those celebrating the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion gathered for the divine services.
Meanwhile, the faithful continued to flock toward the wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God; His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, presented the cross for veneration and spoke with the people, and each was anointed with holy myrrh, and received a small icon of the Mother of God.
Upon completion of the service, the clergy and conference participants departed for Sts. Peter & Paul Church in Passaic, where a final banquet was held for them and other guests of the joint pastoral conference.