On Wednesday the 8th and Thursday the 9th of July, Bishop Jerome paid an archpastoral visit to Our Lady of Tikhvin Church in Howell, NJ, where he led the divine services for the parish’s patronal feast. Concelebrating with His Grace at Divine Liturgy were:
- Archpriest Serge Lukianov (parish rector)
- Archpriest Luka Novakovic (rector of St. Michael Church in Philadelphia, PA)
- Abbot Vladimir (Zgoba; rector of Our Lady "Unexpected Joy" Church in Staten Island, NY)
- Archpriest Ljubo Milosevic (rector of Holy Trinity Church in Vineland, NJ)
- Archpriest Boris Oparin (rector of St. Joasaph of Belgorod Church in Brooklyn, NY)
- Archpriest Petro Kunitsky (cleric of Holy New Martyrs & Confessors of Russia Church in Brooklyn)
- Archpriest Boris Slootsky (parish cleric)
- Abbot Eutychius (Dovgan; diocesan cleric)
- Abbot Arseny (Manko; rector of Sts. Cosmas & Damian Church in Passaic, NJ)
- Archpriest Milorad Orlic (rector of St. Nicholas Serbian Church in Philadelphia)
- Archpriest Leonid Goferman (rector of Holy Virgin Protection Church in New Brunswick, NJ)
- Archpriest Serge Ledkovsky (deputy rector of St. Vladimir Memorial Church in Jackson, NJ)
- Priest Valery Sukholobov (rector of Joy of All Who Sorrow Church in Philadelphia)
- Priest George Kaplanov (parish cleric)
- Protodeacon Nicholas Lukianov (parish cleric)
- Protodeacon Paul Drozdowski (parish cleric) and
- Deacon Alexey Pnev (cleric of the Nativity of the Mother of God Church at the New Kursk Root Hermitage in Mahopac, NY).
The parish choir sang beautifully and prayerfully under the direction of conductor Alexandra Lukianov. Many parishioners communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
Upon completion of Liturgy, Bishop Jerome congratulated everybody with the feast, and addressed the faithful with a sermon, in which he spoke about the history of the wonderworking Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God. His Grace specifically noted how the holy image was brought by Archbishop John (Garklavs) of Chicago from Riga to America, where this very large icon remained in Chicago for several decades.
"After the fall of the communist regime in Russia, Archbishop John’s [adopted] son ‒ Archpriest Sergei Garklavs ‒ fulfilled the request of his father and returned the icon to the land where it first appeared in the 14th century. Thus, in 2004, the holy icon was returned to Holy Dormition Monastery in Tikhvin, where thousands of the faithful gathered to venerate the Most Holy Theotokos.."
Speaking also about the revered copy of the Tikhvin Icon that miraculously made its home in the Howell church, His Grace noted that, "It is not the board or the paint used to create the icon that grant comfort to the faithful, but the Most Holy Theotokos herself, who hears our prayers," and called on them to turn to the Mother of God with all their hearts.
The rector thanked Bishop Jerome and all of the concelebrating clergy and laity who had gathered together on this day after a prolonged enforced quarantine, in order to lift up their prayers to the Mother of God, and spoke about the wonderful history of the revered Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God, thanks to which St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral ‒ across the street from Our Lady of Tikhvin Church (the original St. Alexander Nevsky Church).
Interaction between the hierarch, clergy, and laity continued at a luncheon prepared by the parish sisterhood.