On Friday the 23rd and Saturday the 24th of September, the feast of Blessed Xenia of St. Petersburg, His Eminence Nicholas, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, paid an archpastoral visit to St. Xenia Church in Methuen, MA, where he officiated the divine services on the occasion of the parish’s patronal feast day. This marked the first parish visit of the new First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad.
Serving alongside His Eminence at the All-Night Vigil on Friday evening were: Archpriests Spyridon Schneider (rector of St. John the Russian Church in Ipswich, MA), Michael Crowley (parish rector), and Brendan Crowley (rector of St. Nicholas Church in Enfield, CT), Priests Constantine Desrosiers (parish cleric) and Alexei Klar (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY), and parish Deacons Alexander and Dimitry Doohovskoy and John Sarantakis.
The following morning, the First Hierarch celebrated Divine Liturgy, co-served by the above-mentioned clergy, as well as Archpriests Victor Boldewskul (rector of Holy Epiphany Church in Boston, MA) and Constantine Semyanko (rector of Holy Presentation Church in Stratford, CT) and Priest Photios Zelinski (rector of St. Polycarp of Smyrna Church in Sanford, ME).
The choir sang beautifully under the direction of Laryssa Doohovskoy, while a children’s choir sang certain parts of the Liturgy, adding to the atmosphere of holiness and prayer.
At the Little Entrance, Fr. Constantine was elevated to the rank of archpriest.
Virtually everyone present communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
Upon conclusion of the service, a short moleben was served in the center of the church.
Metropolitan Nicholas then delivered a sermon on the life of St. Xenia and the significance of a life in the Church, in which he said, in part:
"The message today is quite vivid: we are not alone. Surrounding us outside of these blessed walls there is much noise and confusion, commotion, war, troubled times, and ultimately darkness and sin. But we can be steadfast and assured that God is with us and we are with God. The Holy Theotokos is with us as we celebrate her birth in these special days; we need to be with the Holy Theotokos. And St. Xenia is with us; we must cry out to her, that she hears us and hears our praise and knows that we need her intercession. We want to thank her for her struggles and her life, and let her know that we are looking up to this saint: to also be good Orthodox Christians.
"In her personal life, when there were troubles, unpleasantries, she did not despair, but simply continued to pray to God, live a very humble life, and help [her] neighbor, never looking for praise or thanks or any kind of [recognition]. This example she gives to us: never to despair, no matter how difficult things might seem within our lives, there is always God and our prayer to Him. When we pray with our hearts and our minds, He hears us, He helps us, He blesses us. We also are reminded to live humbly, poorly, quietly, never looking for glory or any kind of high position or praise.
"We are commanded to be Orthodox Christians, to be Christ-like, to love [our] neighbor, and these things, these commandments, we need to fulfill. God sees how we act, how we speak, how we live our lives outside of the church, and He will bless us and be with us, and no evil sin, no darkness, can overcome that joy that we feel today, knowing that St. Xenia truly is our patron saint, and that truly here, in this church, miracles happen, souls are saved, sins are forgiven, and we are all able to unite with Christ in the Holy Eucharist."
His Eminence greeted Fr. Michael, the clergy, and parishioners. He presented the rector with a special edition jeweled cross, inscribed in honor of the centennial of ROCOR and the 725th anniversary of the Kursk Root Icon in honor of his 20th anniversary of serving the parish.
The deacon then intoned the Polychronion for the hierarchy, clergy, and faithful.
After the service, a bountiful banquet, prepared by Nicholas Chaplain, was served by the parish sisterhood.