On Sunday, December 9, the feast day of the Holy Hierarch Innocent of Irkutsk, Apostle to Siberia & Alaska, and upon completion of the work of the ROCOR Synod of Bishops at the Synodal Headquarters, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York celebrated Divine Liturgy in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City.
Concelebrating with the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad were: Archbishop Mark of Berlin & Germany, Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal & Canada, Bishop Theodosius of Seattle (vicar of the Western American Diocese), Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan (vicar of the Eastern American Diocese), Archpriest Andrei Sommer (cathedral senior priest), Abbot Eutychius (Dovganyuk; cleric of St. Gregory the Theologian Church in New York City) Archpriest Edward Chervinsky (cathedral cleric), Abbot Tikhon (Gayfudinov; abbot of Holy Protection Skete in Buena, NJ), Archdeacon Peter (Karakozov; cleric of the Western American Diocese), and Deacon Pavel Rouenko (cathedral cleric).
The service was held under the aegis of the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora – the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God. A multitude of parishioners prayed at Liturgy, many of whom communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
Upon completion of the service, Archbishop Mark addressed the faithful with a sermon on the Gospel reading of the day, about how Christ the Savior healed the woman "which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years."
"She approached Him, Who condescended to her in mercy, charity, and love for mankind; Him, Who brings heaven to earth, Who came for the sake of the salvation of perishing humanity. And He says of Himself, ‘I am the door,’ – the door that leads from darkness to light, from death to life. And He left us this life here on earth in the form of His Body, which is the Church. And here we not only draw near to Him, but we unite ourselves to Him; we receive Him in our hearts and into our body.
"Many of you just communed, received the Body of Christ. And this is no mere external contact. This is life unto itself: in His Body, where we receive all of the vital fluids required for us to live a Christian life. When we receive in the Church the grace that He pours out on us, we receive strength; having been weak, we are made strong. We receive all of the strength we need to do battle for purity, for light, for love, for compassion. Christ indwells us when we approach Him with faith and love, knowing that we are weak, that we are incapable of performing any good work while we are without Christ and without His Church. We obtain, however, every strength needed to overcome any death, any sin, any encroachment toward sin, because the Lord, indwelling us, gives us everything that is His, everything we need for a life in Christ.
"The Lord did not even ask this woman if she wished for Him to save her. He went and told her that she was loosed from her infirmity. She was healed, she was made a part of His Body – the Body of Christ. And let us, brothers and sisters, never despair. We can accomplish all things if we will rely completely on faith, on God’s love, on His compassion, on all of His gifts, which He gives us in His mercy."
Upon completion of Liturgy, Metropolitan Hilarion congratulated the warden of the Cathedral of the Sign, Sergei Yakushin, on his 60th birthday. The sisterhood organized a luncheon for the clergy and faithful in the church hall.
That same evening, All-Night Vigil was served for the patronal feast of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign – the feast of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign." Prior to the greeting of the First Hierarch, Fr. Andrei Sommer greeted Bishop Nicholas, who entered with the wonderworking icon.
Metropolitan Hilarion led the divine service. Co-serving with His Eminence were: Archbishops Mark and Gabriel, Bishops Irenei of Richmond & Western Europe, George of Canberra (vicar of the Diocese of Australia & New Zealand), Theodosius, and Nicholas, as well as diocesan clergy: Archimandrite Elevferiy (Skiba; dean of "Inexhaustible Chalice" Church in Brooklyn, NY), Archpriests Elias Gorsky (rector of Holy Virgin Protection Church in Nyack, NY), Serafim Gan (chancellor of the Synod of Bishops), Andrei Sommer, Brendan Crowley (rector of St. Nicholas Church in Enfield, CT), Alexandre Antchoutine (dean of Long Island & the Hudson Valley), Constantine Semyanko (rector of Holy Presentation Church in Stratford, CT), Edward Chervinsky, Seraphim Chemodakov (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ), Mikhail Kapchits (rector of St. Nicholas Church MP in Bayonne, NJ), Hieromonk Zosimas (Krampis; rector of the Synodal St. Sergius English Mission), Priest Dmitry Sukhorukhov (cleric of St. Nicholas Church in Bayonne), Fr. Tikhon (Gayfudinov), Protodeacons Nicolas Mokhoff (cathedral cleric), Dimitri Temidis (cleric of Holy Protection Church in Nyack), and Eugene Kallaur (cleric of St. Seraphim Memorial Church in Sea Cliff, NY), and Deacons Alexey Pnev (cleric of Nativity of the Mother of God Church at the New Kursk Root Hermitage in Mahopac, NY), Pavel Roudenko, and Nicholas Ilyin (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY).
Prayerfully singing at Vigil was an expanded Synodal choir, under the direction of conductor Peter Fekula.
Many of the faithful confessed their sins that evening, in order to commune of Christ’s Holy Mysteries the following morning, on the cathedral’s patronal feast day.