On Sunday, August 28, the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos ‒ the Pascha of the Theotokos, as it this feast, beloved by the faithful around the world, if often called ‒ the downpour predicted by forecasters came early in the morning, leaving the rest of the day sunny and fresh. The palms and pines showed off their clean leaves, and a large, clean puddle lay before the church, in which the entire parish was reflected as they came out all together for a friendly group photo. In short, this is how the feast day concluding the Dormition fast should be.
The morning began with Divine Liturgy, celebrated by Three Hierarchs Church cleric Archimandrite Siluan (Lembei) and visiting clergy.
The church was filled to capacity. The faithful came to pray and honor the memory of the Most Holy Theotokos, mostly in families. Virtually the entire church communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
A year ago, an icon of Blessed Matrona of Moscow was brought to the church from Moscow. Now it has been placed in a kiot prepared by Fr. Siluan himself, and placed opposite a kiot containing one of the church’s first icons ‒ Our Lady "Quick to Hear." It was before this icon two years ago that Fr. Siluan began, in hope of aid from the Most Holy Theotokos, to regularly read an akathist. For more than half a year he read and sang by himself, until helpers and worshippers began to come to church – 10 parishioners in those days. Today, up to 60 people gather in church to pray on Sundays, with even more on great feasts. People come not only from nearby cities, but even from two to three hours away from the church.
"What is the most important thing for building a church community?" reflects Fr. Siluan. "Love, unity, trust in one another as we trust in God Himself. It is especially important for us to come together when we are not living in our historic homeland."
At Three Hierarchs Church, Georgians, Ukrainians, Moldovans, Russians, Belarusians, and Serbs all pray together, and at Liturgy the priest commemorates all of the Churches, always reminding parishioners that, no matter one’s nationality, he must always confess Christ the Savior, strengthen his or her faith and carrying it out into the world.
Fr. Siluan himself was born into a believing family. His grandfather built the church in the village of Kopashnovo in the Zakarpatye (Carpathian) Oblast. The future priest spent his whole life there before serving in the army. He began his ascetical life at Holy Dormition Pochaev Lavra.
I was tonsured a monk in St. Nicholas Monastery in Mil’tsy in Volhynia," Fr. Siluan says. "Later I was sent to a parish, to finish building the church. Five years later, I was blessed to join Holy Dormition Monastery in Nizkinichi, also in Volhynia, where from 2004 to 2018 I fulfilled the obedience of bookkeeper."
In 2018, Fr. Siluan moved to the U.S., to Florida, where he labored at St. Nicholas Monastery in North Ft. Myers, later serving at the parish in Orland, and now for two years has been lovingly working on the church in Hollywood.
The talents of every person who comes to the church will always be useful and encouraged by the priest, who believes that talents are a gift from God.
Vladimir Logozinsky, the choir conductor, is from Ukraine, and has introduced communal singing to the divine services – now all of the worshippers sing the responses to the litanies, the Creed, and the "Our Father" in both English and Church Slavonic.
"I recalled my childhood, when the faithful would sing the entire Divine Liturgy," recalls Fr. Siluan. "And I would like for the people to not simply stand and pray quietly to themselves, but rather that with their singing and their mouths they might glorify God, confirm their faith, and pray for the country where we all now live.
Now Fr. Siluan is gathered the paperwork necessary to rebuild the church’s roof, so that it will be a church in the Russian Orthodox style and so that everyone of every ethnicity might know that this is a temple of the Russian Church Abroad. There is already a cupola for the roof; it made it into the group photo!
The parish’s plans also include collecting a history of the church and creating a museum, a library, and a parish website. Work is already proceeding on many of these projects. In part, a video chronicle of parish life is being produced.
"Last year, we held our first Dormition Family Festival, which we hope will become a tradition," Fr. Siluan continues. "Besides the festal luncheon and entertainment outdoors, the children read prayers in various languages – Slavonic, Spanish, English, Moldovan ‒ draw, and solve Church-themed riddles. And they all receive gifts. At first, we wanted to make this a children’s holiday. But the adults also took active part, and so for the second year now we are seeing that this is a parish family festival.
"And we would very much like that our church, just as the churches of our forebears, be built for the ages; that our parishioners might donate their various talents to this church; that the children of our parishioners might be proud of this church and those who organized, built, and preserved it."
Text and Photos by Tatiana Veselkina
(Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese)
Hollywood, FL: The "Land" of the Three Hierarchs ‒ Parish celebrates Feast of Dormition, holds Family Festival - 08/28/22