On Sunday, November 3, the feast day of Venerable Hilarion of the Kiev Caves, the namesday of Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, was celebrated at the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City.
His Eminence celebrated Divine Liturgy, co-served by vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan and diocesan clergy: Archpriests Andrei Sommer (cathedral dean) and Elias Gorsky (rector of Holy Virgin Protection Church in Nyack, NY), Abbots Vladimir (Zgoba; rector of Our Lady "Unexpected Joy" Church in Staten Island, NY), Eutychius (Dovgan; Synodal cleric), and Arseny (Manko; rector of Sts. Cosmas & Damian Church in Passaic, NJ), and Synodal Protodeacons Nicolas Mokhoff and Vadim Gan.
The service was held under the aegis of the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora – the Kursk Root Icon fo the Mother of God. The Synodal choir sang under the direction of Matushka Eugenia Temidis.
A multitude of parishioners and faithful from other churches in the city and nearby states came to pray at Liturgy and relay their congratulations and warm well-wishes to the Metropolitan on the occasion of his namesday.
Upon completion of the service, Metropolitan Hilarion addressed those gathered with a sermon on the day’s Gospel reading.
Bishop Nicholas congratulated His Eminence with his namesday:
"On this joyous day, accept from me both fraternal and filial congratulations on the occasion of your namesday. Today is the feast day of Venerable Hilarion of the Kiev Caves, and we are overjoyed that you have such a wonderful monastic patron saint. On behalf of our episcopate, we congratulate you, and thank you, because whenever you chair our meetings, we always feel your right hand, which leads and instructs us. Thank you for this.
"Twenty-five years ago, you tonsured me a reader. Later, I received the gift of the priesthood from your hands. And you led my hierarchal consecration. I am personally grateful to you for all of this. And I thank God that I can be with you in these days, when we have both joys and hardships; all of this occurs by God’s providence, and with you it is easy to solve all of our problems and celebrate our milestones. We know that you pray for us, and we are sincerely grateful to you for this, and ask that you continue to lead us down the right path. We wish you God’s aid and every good thing, both in Heaven and on earth. And know surely that we are always alongside you."
Bishop Nicholas also read aloud a greeting send to Metropolitan Hilarion from Metropolitan Agathangel of Odessa & Izmail, which said, in part:
"By God’s providence you, dear Vladyka, have chosen from your youth the thorny path of service to God, and have wholly dedicated yourself you Him. Everyone knows of the apostolic labors that you perform in Christ’s Vineyard. Eleven years ago, you were elected First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad. And the years of your hierarchal service have borne fruit for the Holy Church. Throughout the world, you represent the Church of Christ, which was entrusted to you, with honor and dignity. You bear witness to the enduring beauty of Orthodoxy, sowing the seeds of faith, peace, goodness, and the love of Christ. By your good example, meekness, monastic simplicity, and pastoral care for God’s people, you have raised up an entire generation of servants of the Church, who today pray for you. You devote all of your strength and energy to preserving ancient Christian traditions, and contribute significantly to ecclesiastical unity and fidelity to the Mother Church, multiplying faith and piety among the people. Over the course of many years of constructive work, you have gathered for yourself honor and authority among various levels of society. You guide the ship of the Church with divine wisdom, steering it truly, toward the calm haven of salvation. All of your strengths are directed toward accomplishing the good and perfect will of God. As from a bright flame of faith, you ignite the fires of faith in the hearts of the people."
Metropolitan Agathangel prayerfully wished the First Hierarch of ROCOR health, joy, prosperity, success, well-being, and God’s almighty aid.
In honor of the feast, a reception was prepared by the sisterhood and held in the cathedral hall for clergy and parishioners. Joining the concelebrating clergy after services in their own parishes were: Archpriest Serafim Gan (chancellor of the Synod of Bishops), Archpriest Alexandre Antchoutine (dean of Long Island & the Hudson Valley), and Abbot Zosimas (Krampis; rector of the English Mission at Synod). Many kind, warm words of congratulation and gratitude were offered to Metropolitan Hilarion.