On September 18, the 14th Sunday after Pentecost and the day when the Holy Church honors the memory of the Holy Prophet Zechariah and the Righteous Elizabeth, parents of St. John the Baptist, the enthronement of Metropolitan Nicholas (Olhovsky) as First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia took place in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City.
Prior to the start of Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Mark of Berlin & Germany, President of the Synod of Bishops, and Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco & Western America presented Metropolitan Nicholas with the second panagia. Concelebrating with the First Hierarch at Liturgy was a large number of hierarchs and a multitude of clergy. Serving from among the hierarchs were:
- Metropolitan Mark of Berlin & Germany
- Bishop Longin of Novo-Gracanica & Mid-Western America (Serbian Orthodox Church)
- Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco & Western America
- Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal & Canada
- Archbishop Peter of Chicago & Mid-America
- Archbishop Victor of Artsiz, vicar of the Diocese of Odessa (Ukrainian Orthodox Church)
- Bishop John of Caracas & South America
- Bishop Irenei of London & Western Europe
- Bishop Theodosius of Seattle, first vicar of the Western American Diocese
- Bishop Alexander of Vevey, vicar of the Western European Diocese
- Bishop Luke of Syracuse, vicar of the Eastern American Diocese
- Bishop James of Sonora, second vicar of the Western American Diocese, and
- Bishop Job of Stuttgart, vicar of the German Diocese.
The solemnities were held under the aegis of the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora – the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God. The expanded Synodal Choir sang beautifully under the direction of Vadim S. Gan. The cathedral was filled with the faithful ‒ cathedral parishioners and those from other churches ‒ most of whom communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
In the triumphal setting of the completed divine service, Metropolitan Mark presented Metropolitan Nicholas the hierarchal staff, with the words of the enthronement rite:
"May the Almighty and Life-giving Trinity, Boundless Sovereignty and Indivisible Kingdom, grant to you this great throne of episcopacy, to be Metropolitan and Primate of the Russian Church Abroad, through the election by your brethren, the bishops of the Russian Church Abroad. And now, lord and brother, accept this pastoral staff, and ascend the throne of the episcopal seniority, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and beseech His Most-Pure Mother for all Orthodox Christianity and for the Russian people in the diaspora entrusted to you and save them as a good pastor will, and may the Lord God grant you health, well-being and many years."
Metropolitan Mark added:
"We have entrusted you with the staff – the staff of the governance of our Church. Our ancestors invented the staff in order to buttress our physical strength, but from this flows inner strength. This is that inner staff, which can only be compared with the rod of Aaron. This staff strengthens us in the tempestuous sea in which we live, in order to multiply us in faith, love, and wisdom, which you will require for the continuation of our service in this new obedience before God. And we will all pray that our new First Hierarch will be strengthened in this service, and we will help you as much as we can."
The protodeacon intoned the Polychronion for His Holiness, Patriarch Kyrill, Metropolitan Nicholas, and the entire Council of Bishops.
Metropolitan Nicholas answered with the words of the rite:
"May the Almighty and All-Sovereign Right Hand of the All-Highest preserve and strengthen us all. May He grant peace and calm to His Holy Church and save our Fatherland from enemies visible and invisible, and grant strength to Orthodoxy. And to you, brother archpastors of the Russian Church Abroad, and to all Russians in the diaspora, and all Orthodoxy Christians, may He grant health and many years."
Metropolitan Mark read aloud a congratulatory address from Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow & All Russia, addressed to the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad.
Metropolitan Nicholas thanked Metropolitan Mark and all of the bishops for their attentiveness, support, and trust:
"We in the Russian Church Abroad constitute a particular hierarchal family. We can sense the catholicity between us. I am grateful to Bishop Longin that you were able to share with us in the celebrations today as a representative of the Serbian Patriarch and the Serbian Church. We will never forget the love shown to our forebears by the Serbian Patriarch and the whole Serbian people in our time of greatest need ‒ you received and sheltered us ‒ our people and our great holy Kursk Root Icon.
"I am also glad that Archbishop Victor is with us. We prayed together in Kiev and Odessa, and I am overjoyed that you were able to share in the celebration today. We ask that you relay to His Beatitude, Metropolitan Onufry, the episcopate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, its clergy and faithful children our shared prayer.
"We have here a special cathedral – the headquarters of the Synod of Bishops, the center of our Church. But the foremost thing here is the altar and temple of God. Our forebears prayed here, celebrated the feasts and solemn occasions. One such event took place in 1964, when they glorified Fr. John of Kronstadt here. His holy icon is in our church, as is his riassa. We pray to Fr. John that he pray and intercede for us before God.
"In his book My Life in Christ, we are presented with Fr. John’s thoughts. Try to read this book – there you will find his most excellent words! Fr. John of Kronstadt writes: ‘Be a Christian in heart ‒ that is, be always sincere in prayer, in your intercourse with your neighbor, ever believing, trusting, meek, gentle, wishing well to everybody, just, not covetous, compassionate, merciful, abstinent, chaste, patient, obedient, courageous.’
"These words touch me deeply, and I want for them to influence you, as well. This is our Christian duty – to pray for one another, to respect and love one another."
Metropolitan Nicholas called on the faithful to be worthy of the legacy of the Russian Church Abroad, not forgetting who we are and where we come from.
Those present congratulated the First Hierarch, offering him many kind words and well-wishes. A banquet was then held, during which informal interaction between the clergy and faithful continued.
New York City: Enthronement of Metropolitan Nicholas, New First Hierarch of Russian Church Abroad, takes place in Synodal Cathedral of the Sign - 09/18/22
Photos: Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese - G. Konyev