On Sunday, April 29, celebrations of the tenth anniversary of the primatial service of Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York were held in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord" (Psalm 36:23) – these words truly exemplify the life’s journey and service of Metropolitan Hilarion, the sixth First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad. The future archpastor loved the church from his youth, loved to read journals and spiritually-rich books. After relocating from native Canada to the northern United States – to Jordanville – he continued studies, and later teaching, at Holy Trinity Theological Seminary.
In December 1984, Archimandrite Hilarion (Kapral) was consecrated as Bishop of Manhattan, vicar of the Eastern American Diocese, and between visits to parishes of the Diocese, served frequently in the Synodal Cathedral, where he was loved and respected by the parishioners. Thanks to the efforts of Metropolitan Hilarion, the number of parishes in the Diocese increased to 64.
In June 1996, Archbishop Hilarion was appointed ruling bishop of the Diocese of Sydney, Australia & New Zealand.
In May 2008, after the Russian Diaspora endured the repose of Metropolitan Laurus, his first deputy, Archbishop Hilarion, arrived from Australia. Two days alter, he was elected Primate of the Russian Church Abroad, and on the feast of the Ascension of our Lord, was enthroned as its sixth First Hierarch. During the Divine Liturgy, "Axios!" was exclaimed thrice.
The jubilee celebrations began with the celebration of All-Night Vigil on Saturday, April 28. The following day, April 29, the Sunday of the Paralytic, Metropolitan Hilarion celebrated Divine Liturgy, co-served by hierarchs participating in the meeting of the Synod of Bishops: Archbishops Mark of Berlin & Germany, Kyrill of San Francisco & Western America, and Gabriel of Montreal & Canada; Bishops Nicholas of Manhattan and Irinei of Sacramento, as well as Archpriest John Sorochka (dean of Pennsylvania), Archpriest Victor Potapov (dean of the Capital Region), Archimandrite Maximos (Weimar; abbot of St. Dionysius the Areopagite Monastery in St. James, NY), Archpriest Andrei Sommer (senior priest of the Synodal cathedral), Archpriest Liubo Milosevich (rector of Holy Trinity Church in Vineland, NJ), Archpriest Živojin Jakovljević (rector of St. Sava Serbian Cathedral in New York City), Archpriest Petro Kunitsky (cleric of New Martyrs of Russia Church in Brooklyn, NY), Abbot Theophylact (Clapper-DeWell: cleric of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville), Archpriest Alexander Botschagow (rector of Holy Fathers Church in New York City), Archpriest Alexandre Antchoutine (dean of Long Island & the Hudson Valley), Archpriest Edward Chervinsky (cathedral cleric), Hieromonk Zosimas (Krampis, rector of St. Sergius English Mission at the Synodal Cathedral), Hieromonk Tikhon (Gayfudinov, abbot of Holy Protection Skete in Buena, NJ and personal secretary to the Metropolitan), Priest Ion Radu (ROCOR cleric), Protodeacons Nicolas Mokhoff and Vadim Gan (cathedral clerics), Protodeacon Dimitri Temidis (cleric of Holy Protection Church in Nyack, NY), Protodeacon Serge Arlievsky (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY), Archdeacon Peter (Karakosov, cleric of Joy of All Who Sorrow Cathedral in San Francisco, CA), Protodeacon Eugene Kallaur (cleric of St. Seraphim Memorial Church in Sea Cliff, NY), Protodeacon Leonid Roschko (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ), Protodeacon Nathan Mousselli (cleric of St. Vladimir Memorial Church in Jackson, NJ), Deacons Michael Pavuk and Nathaniel Sorochka (clerics of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Mayfield, PA), and Deacon Pavel Roudenko (cathedral cleric).
The divine services, just as ten years prior, were held under the aegis of the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora – the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God.
Singing at the festal services was an expanded choir of the Synodal cathedral, under the direction of Peter Fekula. A large multitude of the faithful from New York and neighboring towns, as well as monastics, gathered to lift up their prayers for the health and God’s aid to their First Hierarch. Many communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
At the conclusion of the service, Fr. Victor Potapov delivered a sermon on the subject of the feast, especially reminding the faithful of their service to others. Fr. Victor reminisced on the years in Holy Trinity Seminary, where he studied alongside the future First Hierarch. "I cannot remember a day when someone would not come to him for advice, asking for help, and he would respond without fail. We all know of his kindness. His entire life has been dedicated to serving his younger brothers and sisters. And when you will pray for him – and he truly needs our prayers, because his hierarchal cross is heavy – remember his kindness, and be inspired by it."
On behalf of the hierarchs, Archbishop Mark addressed Metropolitan Hilarion, saying, "The name Hilarion means ‘joyful’. And truly, we can rejoice for these ten years of labor that you have invested in the prosperity of our Church; rejoice at the love with which you lead us. Because it was the only way to further fuse all of the parts of our Church: the two great parts here and in the homeland that were divided for many years, and many others who were enlightened under your leadership and returned to the bosom of the united Church. We rejoice in this and wish you to continue to work with God’s help in this arena."
His Eminence underscored the physically unifying role that the Metropolitan plays by routinely visiting parishes and monasteries on various continents and bringing with him peace to all of the dioceses.
On behalf of the hierarchs, Archbishop Mark presented the First Hierarch with a panagia with an icon of the Protection of the Mother of God and the holy hierarchs of Moscow.
Metropolitan Hilarion expressed his gratitude to Archbishop Mark for his congratulations, and with kind words spoke about his predecessors, starting with the founder of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky). He wished the current archpastors, clergy, and faithful the power to fight temptations, wishing that all come to church and, with common prayer, attain salvation.
The protodeacon then intoned the Polychronion to Metropolitan Hilarion.
Afterwards, all proceeded to the courtyard of the Synodal building, where participants were treated to a concert of the a capella choir from Yale University, under the direction of Stefan Sveshnikov. The American students wonderfully performed Russian folk songs.
Later, in the cathedral hall, a reception was held. Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan greeted Metropolitan Hilarion on behalf of the clergy and faithful of the Diocese, thanking His Eminence for preserving the purity of Orthodoxy and the testament of the founding fathers of the Church Abroad and his predecessor – the ever-memorable Metropolitan Laurus; for his paternal love and prayers. On behalf of the clergy and faithful of the Diocese, His Grace presented the Metropolitan with a panagia set.
Participants were given a wonderful opportunity to personally congratulate their First Hierarch, reminisce, and wish one another God’s inexhaustible aid, many years of life and service to the people of God; and to be, like before, "an example of the faith" for his entire flock, a "workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of Truth." (I Tim. 4:12; II Tim. 2:15).
New York City: Decennial of Metropolitan Hilarion’s Primatial Service celebrated in Synodal Cathedral - 04/29/18
Photos: A. Boldeskul - Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese