On Saturday the 6th and Sunday the 7th of January, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan led the divine services for the Nativity of Christ in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City. The All-Night Vigil for Nativity was served in a festal, joyous, and warm atmosphere.
On Sunday, the festal Liturgy was concelebrated by Bishop Irinej of Eastern America (Serbian Orthodox Church) and Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, along with cathedral clergy and clergy of the Serbian Cathedral of St. Sava, which burned down on Pascha 2016. The church was full, by some counts with up to 500 attendees at the festal Liturgy – cathedral parishioners and faithful Serbs – most of whom communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
At the festal service, the expanded hierarchal choir sang under the direction of conductor Peter Fekula.
Upon completion of the service, the Nativity epistle of the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad – Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York – was read aloud. On behalf of Metropolitan Hilarion, the Synodal clergy, and himself personally, Bishop Nicholas then greeted Bishop Irinej and the Serbian brothers and sisters in the Faith. His Grace spoke briefly about the history of the feast, and explained why Christians celebrate it, and why we must always live our lives according to Christ’s commandments. Bishop Nicholas spoke about how the people of Serbia opened their country and their heart to the Russian people forced to leave their homes after the October Revolution of 1917. He likewise noted that, for many years, Serbia was the home of the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora – the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God. Bishop Nicholas underscored that the Russian Church Abroad will never forget the hospitality of the Serbian people, and that there will always be a place for the Serbian Orthodox at the Synodal Cathedral.
Bishop Irinej thanked Bishop Nicholas for his kind words of greeting, and added that his flock and he personally were touched by the demonstration of enduring love and support they had felt from the Russians and, most especially, from the clergy and parishioners of the Cathedral.
The sisterhood of the Cathedral of the Sign and the sisterhood of the Serbian Cathedral of St. Sava prepared a festal luncheon for all. The clergy and faithful interacted with one another around the festal meal, congratulating one another with the radiant feast and wishing one another the best for many years.