With the blessing of His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, on March 15, the Second Sunday of Great Lent, dedicated to St. Gregory Palamas, His Grace Nicholas, Bishop of Manhattan, visited Protection of the Mother of God Church in Rochester, NY. With this visit, he continued a renewed parish tradition, which was begun in the 1960s by Archbishop Averky (Taushev) and was continued by Metropolitan Laurus (Škurla): every year, these archpastors would visit not only for the parish’s patronal feast, but also on the Second Sunday of Great Lent.
This year’s visit was particularly special, because Bishop Nicholas brought with him the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God. His Grace stayed until Monday morning, which offered the opportunity to hold a moleben service with an akathist before the icon on Sunday evening. Serving alongside the diocesan vicar at the divine services were parish clerics: rector Archpriest Gregory Naumenko, Protodeacon Andrej Strapko, and Deacon Nathan Reff, as well as Deacon Stefan Stoyanov (cleric of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City).
Through his inspiring celebration of the services, leading the gathered faithful in a beautiful akathist sung by the entire congregation, and his wise words of counsel, Bishop Nicholas encouraged everyone to continue their struggles in the coming weeks of the Fast, in order to prepare themselves to meet the Risen Christ on the joyous feast of Pascha. In turn, parishioners expressed their hope that His Grace will continue this tradition in the future.
After Divine Liturgy, parishioners shared a bountiful lenten luncheon with Bishop Nicholas, prepared by the parish sisterhood. During the meal, Dr. Lidia Tkaczevski was presented by her family with a large cake to celebrate her 85th birthday. Everybody toasted Lidia with a glass of wine, also provided by her family.