On Friday, April 9, His Grace Nicholas, Bishop of Manhattan, arrived in Washington, DC to lead the divine services in St. John the Baptist Cathedral for the 4th Sunday of Great Lent.
At 7 o’clock that evening, the first of three scheduled Unction services was held for the parish. Prior to the pandemic, Holy Unction would attract 300 or more worshippers at once; however, because of the restrictions placed on the community by municipal authorities in connection with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, it was decided to serve three separate Unction services, on April 9th, 11th, and 12th.
On Friday evening, Bishop Nicholas served with parish clerics: rector Archpriest Victor Potapov and Protodeacons Blagoje Siljegovic and Patrick Mitchell. Fifty people prayed in church, while 20 gathered in the parish hall and another 20 prayed in the parish’s "St. George House." All of the worshippers registered beforehand. Parishioners outside of the church watched a livestream of the service on the parish’s YouTube channel. Upon completion of the service, everyone in church was anointed with holy oil, after which those outside were invited in for anointing. In all, 120 people were able to take part in the grace-filled sacrament.
On Saturday evening, April 10, Bishop Nicholas officiated All-Night Vigil, co-served by Priest Alexander Resnikoff and Protodeacon Leonid Mickle and Patrick Mitchell.
On Sunday, April 11, as always, an early Liturgy was celebrated in English, after which His Grace was greeted at 10:00 AM, and celebrated the later Slavonic Liturgy. At the Little Entrance, with the blessing of the ruling bishop, His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, parish cleric Deacon John Dean was elevated to the rank of protodeacon.
After the reading of the Gospel, Bishop Nicholas delivered a sermon dedicated to the themes touched on in the Gospel reading, as well as to the memory of Venerable John Climacus, commemorated on the 4th Sunday of Lent.
That evening, a second group of worshippers gathered in church for the second Unction service. Serving alongside Bishop Nicholas were Fr. Victor Potapov, Greek priest Protopresbyter George Alexson, Archpriest David Pratt (cathedral cleric) and Nectarios Trevino (rector of Holy Innocents & St. Nina Church in Bristow, VA), Protodeacons Leonid Mickle and Patrick Mitchell. The service was conducted according to the full rite, and concluded at 10 o’clock at night.
The third Unction service was held on Monday evening, but this time without Bishop Nicholas, who returned to New York City earlier in the day, where he attended to regular diocesan business.
Archpriest Victor Potapov