On Sunday, February 16, the feast day of the Holy Equal-of-the-Apostles Nicholas, Archbishop of Japan, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York and Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan celebrated Divine Liturgy in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City. Concelebrating with the hierarchs were cathedral clerics: dean Archpriest Andrei Sommer, Archpriest Edward Chervinsky, and Protodeacon Nicolas Mokhoff, as well as Protodeacons Eugene Kallaur (cleric of St. Seraphim Memorial Church in Sea Cliff, NY) and Leonid Roschko (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ) and Deacon Nicholas Ilyin (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY). The Synodal choir sang prayerfully under the direction of Protodeacon Vadim Gan.
For the occasion of Bishop Nicholas’ namesday, the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God was present at the divine service; His Grace has been the icon’s guardian for many years. The church was full of worshippers, who came to pray, to commune of Christ’s Holy Mysteries, and to congratulate His Grace on his namesday.
Upon completion of the service, Metropolitan Hilarion congratulated Bishop Nicholas with his namesday, and spoke about the life and labors of the Holy Hierarch Nicholas (Kasatkin) of Japan in the 19th century, in a time when the East Asian pagan population was particularly hostile toward Europeans.
"As a young man on his way to Japan, the Hieromonk Nicholas took counsel from the Holy Hierarch Innocent (Veniaminov), the great missionary who served in Alaska and San Francisco. Among other things, the hierarchal advised him to study the Japanese language. And over the course of eight years, Hieromonk Nicholas learned Japanese, one of the most complicated languages to learn and, with God’s help, in this way broke through the barrier and was able to interact with the Japanese in their own language. At first the local population listed to him with distrust, and some even hated him. One samurai even tried to kill the missionary, but soon himself converted to Christianity. Over the course of many years of the saint’s stay in Japan, he converted many to Orthodoxy, built a large cathedral in Tokyo, and organized a multitude of parishes and seminaries. Now, many Orthodox Christians live and pray in Japan."
Metropolitan Hilarion expressed his joy that Bishop Nicholas has such a Heavenly intercessor, whose example His Grace strive to emulate in his life and archpastoral service. His Eminence thanked Bishop Nicholas for his labors and travels with the Kursk Icon to every corner of the Diocese and the planet, and wished him many years of active archpastoral service.
The sisterhood organized a reception in the cathedral hall for clergy and parishioners, during which many kind words and well-wishes were offered to Bishop Nicholas.