On Saturday the 21st and Sunday the 22nd of April, the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, performed an archpastoral visit to Florida, where he led the divine services in St. Nicholas Monastery in North Fort Meyers and St. Matrona Cathedral in Dania Beach.
On Saturday morning, Metropolitan Hilarion celebrated Divine Liturgy in St. Nicholas Monastery. His Eminence was co-served by Archimandrite Alexander (Belya; monastery abbot and dean of Florida), Archimandrite Stephen (Hilchuk; monastery dean), Archpriest Luka Novakovic (monastery economos), Archpriest Nicholas Bargoot (cleric of Holy Epiphany Church in Boston, MA), Priest Constantine Desroisers (cleric of Blessed Xenia of St. Petersburg Church in Methuen, MA), Priest Michael Criscella (ROCOR cleric), and Deacon Rostislav Zadorozhnyy (cleric of St. John the Forerunner Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY).
At the Little Entrance, Metropolitan Hilarion awarded Fr. Constantine the right to wear the gold cross and Fr. Michael, the nabedrennik.
Present at the services in the church were the relics of Holy Martyrs Cyprian and Justina, which arrived in the United States for the first time on the evening prior. St. Nicholas Monastery houses more than 600 relics of saints; however, the relics of Martyrs Cyprian and Justina were not among them. At the end of the Liturgy, the holy relics were carried in procession around the church.
Upon conclusion of the festal Liturgy, Metropolitan Hilarion presented church awards to the clergy, sisters of the monastery, and laypeople. Fr. Alexander thanked the Metropolitan for his visit to the monastery, and explained to him the ongoing work in establishing a monastery apiary and bringing to order the vast monastery territory and, most importantly, raising a cupola on the church.
In turn, Metropolitan Hilarion said, "We know that today in America, all religions are undergoing innovation and departing from their ways. Only Orthodoxy preserves fidelity to God, thanks to the monasteries and churches that provide a sure support for us. You, Fr. Alexander, took upon yourself the obedience of reviving of St. Nicholas Monastery, founded 40 years ago now. Glory to God, new brothers and sisters have come from afar, from our homeland, to rebuild the habitation. We are grateful for Fr. Alexander’s selfless service in the revival of the monastery, for the brothers and sisters, who labor here daily. It is gratifying that in a short time since the revival of the monastery, much has already been done: the cupolas have been installed on the church, daily services have been renewed, and cleanup of the territory has been carried out. We are joyful that this has happened, because this country is in need of monasteries, where daily prayer is carried out."
Later, the clergy joined the First Hierarch in praying at the grave of the monastery’s founder, Archimandrite John (Lewis).
On Sunday morning, Metropolitan Hilarion celebrated Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of Blessed Matrona of Moscow.
His Eminence was co-served by Fr. Alexander (Belya; parish rector), Fr. Stephen Hilchuk, Fr. Luka Novakovic, Archpriest Serge Prisakaru (cathedral clerics), and Fr. Rostislav Zadorozhnyy.
All of the faithful venerated the relics of Venerable Martyrs Cyprian and Justina. Upon conclusion of Liturgy, Metropolitan Hilarion congratulated the worshippers with the arrival of the relics of Sts. Cyprian and Justina to Florida, and wished them the prayerful protection of these saints. His Eminence also congratulated all of the women with the feast of the Holy Myrrhbearers.
In closing, the First Hierarch thanked Fr. Alexander for his labors in the beautification of the parish complex; in particular he noted the opening of a pilgrim’s guesthouse at the Miami cathedral, and shared his joy that Orthodoxy in Florida is thriving.
For their support of the Miami cathedral and the Orthodox Church on American soil, Metropolitan Hilarion presented church awards to clergy, benefactors, and volunteers.
Concluding the feast, students of the parish school of the Miami cathedral performed a concert in honor of the Sunday of the Holy Myrrhbearers.
Translation by Eastern American Diocesan Media Offica