On Wednesday the 14th and Thursday the 15th of February, the great feast of the Meeting of the Lord, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan visited Holy Presentation Church in Stratford, CT, and led the divine services for the parish’s patronal feast day.
On Wednesday evening, His Grace was co-served by Archpriest George Lardas (rector of St. Nicholas Church in Stratford), Archpriest Constantine Semyanko (parish rector), Priest Patrick Burns (rector of Three Saints Church OCA in Ansonia, CT), Protodeacon Serge Arlievsky (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY), Deacon Alexey Pnev (cleric of Nativity of the Mother of God Church at the New Kursk Root Hermitage in Mahopac, NY). With the exception of Fr. Alexey, they were joined at Divine Liturgy the following morning by Archpriests Alexis Duncan (rector of Nativity of the Mother of God Church in Albany, NY) and Brendan Crowley (rector of St. Nicholas Church in Enfield, CT), and Deacon Eugene Utnyukhin (cleric of St. Panteleimon Church in Hartford, CT).
Upon completion of Liturgy, Bishop Nicholas addressed the gathered faithful with a short sermon, and then read aloud from a special address from His Holiness, Patriarch Kyrill, to all Orthodox youth on the occasion of the feast, which over the past years has been declared the Day of Orthodox Youth:
"Today the Church remembers the meeting of the Infant Jesus and the Elder Symeon, a man just and devout (Luke 2:25). The ancient elder had spent many years anxiously anticipating the coming of the Savior into the world, and through the Holy Spirit God revealed to him that the Infant lying in Mary’s arms was that same long-awaited Messiah, who would become for all peoples a light of revelation for the gentiles (Luke 2:32).
"The Meeting of the Lord is a feast wherein the soul encounters Christ. Doubtless, the Lord acts in the life of each one of us. However, mired in the tumult of everyday cares, we do not always notice His presence and grace-filled aid. The life of modern man, especially if he is young, healthy, and active, proceeds and a frenetic pace, and often prevents him from thinking about what is most important: about what is filling his existence with genuine meaning and value. And when man works on himself, tearing himself away from the whirlpool of concerns, and when he comes to be alone with himself, he peers into the depths of his own soul, and the most important event of his life occurs – he encounters God."
With the blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, Bishop Nicholas presented diocesan gramotas to Vera Alexandrovna Andreev and Irene Vasilievna Stepanoff for their many years of diligent labors on behalf of the parish.
After the service, a festal luncheon was held in the parish hall.