The wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God continues her visitation to Florida with a visit to the recently established parish of the Pochaev Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos in North Port, FL.
By this time, the tropical storm had abated, and a large number of the faithful came to the church. On Thursday evening, November 12, Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan officiated a moleben and akathist in the church before the wonderworking image, co-served by Archimandrite Stefan (Hilchuk; parish rector), Archpriest Alexandre Antchoutine (dean of Florida), Archpriest Stephen Lourie (rector of Holy Spirit Church OCA in Venice, FL), and Priest Daniel Sobolev (cleric of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA).
All of the worshippers received copies of the icon, and after the akathist concluded, the holy image remained available for veneration by all of the visiting faithful.
Despite the fact that the North Port area is home to a very large community of Russians, Ukrainians, and other immigrants from the former Soviet Union, there was never a Russian Orthodox church established here. Now, a parish is being formed. The church hosts daily services: if not Liturgy, then Matins, a moleben and akathist, and Vespers. During the quarantine, Fr. Stefan has urged parishioners to come to the church on weekdays, so that, in keeping with the requisite social distancing all who desire to do so can pray, confess their sins, and commune of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
On Friday, Bishop Nicholas visited the sick with the wonderworking icon, after which His Grace headed south once more, and on Saturday evening, November 14, arrived at St. Luke the Blessed Surgeon Mission in Pompano Beach, where he officiated All-Night Vigil, co-served by: Archpriest Serge Lukianov (dean of New Jersey), Archimandrite Siluan (Lembei; diocesan cleric), Archpriest Vasily Zelenyuk (parish senior priest), Archpriest Nicholas Bargoot (rector of St. Panteleimon Church in Lantana, FL), Priest Demetrio Romeo (parish cleric), and Deacon Michael Pavuk (cleric of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Mayfield, PA). Fr. Alexandre Antchoutine prayed at the service.
On November 15, the 25th Sunday after Pentecost, Bishop Nicholas celebrated Divine Liturgy, co-served by Frs. Serge Lukianov, Alexandre Antchoutine, Vasily Zelenyuk, Demetrio Romeo, Protodeacon Nicholas Lukianov (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ), and Michael Pavuk.
A large number of parishioners prayed at the service, along with faithful from neighboring parishes, who came to pray before the wonderworking icon. All received copies of the holy image.
Upon completion of the service, Bishop Nicholas delivered a sermon on the Sunday’s Gospel reading, and then spoke about how, 725 years ago, the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora appeared at the root of a tree not far from Kursk, and how, 100 years ago, she departed from Russia.
After Liturgy, the holy image remained in the church for veneration, while a luncheon wash held in the parish hall for the clergy and faithful, during which parishioners were able to interact with the clergy and become better acquainted with the parish’s new senior priest, Fr. Vasily Zelenyuk, who arrived from the Mid-American Diocese, and who will be serving at St. Luke the Blessed Surgeon Mission.
That same day, after lunch, Bishop Nicholas departed for the airport with the icon and returned to New York City.