On Sunday, February 4, the feast of the New Martyrs & Confessors of Russia, His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, visited Holy New Martyrs Church in Brooklyn to lead the patronal feast day. At Divine Liturgy, His Eminence was co-served by parish rector Archpriest Serge Lukianov, parish cleric Archpriest Petro Kunitsky. Abbot Arseny (Manko; diocesan cleric), Protodeacons Nicholas Lukianov (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ) & Peter Utkin (parish cleric), and Deacon Michael Pavuk (cleric of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Mayfield, PA).
Before the All-Night Vigil on the eve of the feast, a venerated copy of the Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God was brought to the church from Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY. With the blessing of the monastery abbot, Archimandrite Luke (Murianka), the icon was brought by Fr. Michael Pavuk.
Singing at Divine Liturgy was a male choir under the direction of Nikodim Buryakov. Believers from New York and surrounding states flocked to pray before to the New Martyrs and venerate the Pochaev Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Prior to Liturgy, Metropolitan Hilarion tonsured Alexander Lavrenov a reader, and then ordained him a subdeacon. For his many years of service to the Holy Church, Fr. Arseny (Manko) was elevated to the rank of abbot.
On the eve and before the divine services, many faithful confessed their sins. The faithful received Christ’s Holy Mysteries from three chalices.
Addressing the parishioners with a sermon, Metropolitan Hilarion, with Great Lent approaching, reminded them of the parable of the prodigal son, who left his father. People likewise throughout their lives depart from the commandments of God, and sometimes, from God altogether. The main thing, however, is to realize our mistakes, repent, and return to Heavenly Father, Who with joy receives us into His embrace.
Recalling the Heavenly protectors of the church, the New Martyrs & Confessors of Russia, Metropolitan Hilarion reminded the parishioners of the first martyrs who were witnesses of Christ the Savior: the first martyr Abel, the prophets of the Old Testament, and St. John the Baptist, who called the people to repentance.
"The word ‘martyras’ means ‘witness,’ that is, one who witnesses and dies for Christ, faith, and truth," said His Eminence. "Therefore, in the first years of the emergence of Christ’s Church, many martyrs appeared – witnesses who loved Christ so much, that they were prepared to shed their blood for Him, but not to give up their faith. In Russia, after the adoption of Christianity, there were few martyrs, but the time came in the 20th century, as a result of the people deviating from their faith, that the Lord sent trials to Russia. One hundred years ago, in 1918, martyrdom in Russia began with the murder of Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev, who was glorified as a New Martyr of Russia. The host of the New Martyrs painted the Russian land with their blood, but through their prayers, the Church in Russia gained freedom and was reborn, so that we might attain salvation."
His Eminence wished strength to the Church of God, as well as continued development and strengthening of the parish.
For his dedicated service to the Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Hilarion awarded a diocesan gramota to Protodeacon Peter Utkin, who celebrated 10 years in the Holy Diaconate on the eve of the feast.
Afterward, all were invited to a festal luncheon, which was lovingly prepared by the parish sisterhood. Clergy and faithful interacted in an informal matter, listened to folk songs sung by members of the male choir, and participated in a raffle.