On Saturday, October 22, the feast day of the Holy Apostle James the Lesser (son of Alphæus), the Righteous Patriarch Abraham and his nephew Lot, the newly elected First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Nicholas of Eastern America & New York, visited the New Kursk Root Hermitage in Mahopac, NY.
Longtime parish treasurer Vyacheslav Maltsev greeted His Eminence with bread and salt and welcomed him warmly. Bishop Jerome (Shaw) greeted the Metropolitan inside Nativity of the Mother of God Church.
Concelebrating with Metropolitan Nicholas and Bishop Jerome at Divine Liturgy were: Archimandrite Maximos (Weimer; abbot of St. Dionysios the Areopagite Monastery in St. James, NY), Archpriest Alexandre Antchoutine (dean of New York City & Long Island), Priest George Temidis (parish rector), Protodeacon Serge Arlievsky (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY), and Deacons Alexey Pnev, Konstantin Aleshin (parish clerics), and Andrei Antchoutine (cleric of Holy Virgin Intercession Church in Glen Cove, NY).
After the Eucharistic Canon there transpired a long-awaited and joyous event: Metropolitan Nicholas ordained Subdeacon Theodotus Conrad to the diaconate. Subdeacon Theodotus and his wife Xenia, with their daughters Tatiana and Samantha – are parishioners of Mahopac. The newly ordained Deacon Theodotus will fulfill his service at the New Kursk Root Hermitage.
In his sermon, Metropolitan Nicholas said, in part: "The Lord has blessed us to gather and to celebrate the hierarchal Divine Liturgy in our church, which has a special history, special prayer, and God’s blessing. I am very pleased and – as, I am sure, you do as well ‒ feel warmth and joy in my heart. Every divine service is a special blessing from God. The Lord gives this to us, but how we use this time depends on us. We can bustle about, we can just sin, or we can rejoice in the Lord and glorify God… Let us glorify God and pray, not only on Sundays and feast days, but every day as we are able – even every minute."
Speaking about the Apostle James, His Eminence continued: "We pray for peace, pray that the Lord God bless the globe with His peace. And as the Apostle James preached, was an apostle, a missionary, ‒ so we too are all called to carry the word of God, both for ourselves and for the people around us, believers and unbelievers alive. By our example, by our Christian life we can save others; this is God’s work, this is the work of the apostles, and we are also called to this service. As the Lord chose His apostles, He also chose us. Each of us has his cross, his Christian duty, his obedience. Let us strive, dear brothers and sisters, to do all things with humility.
"We pray, we try, but ultimately sometimes we still abandon our Creator, forgetting the commandments and laws. We are spiritually sick. But the Lord God is Love. And always ‒ as it was in the time of the Savior, so also now ‒ the Lord calls all of us, and especially sinners. We need not be afraid. We need only to simply and humbly ask forgiveness, to repent and be united with Christ. In church is where this takes place: that is where our Sacraments are, our holy icons and relics, our prayer; there is where our tears are ‒ tears of repentance, tears of joy, tears of forgiveness. We ask for many things, but how often do we ask for forgiveness of our sin? Here we must consider, dear brothers and sisters. Glorifying the memory of the Apostle James and hearing the words of the Savior, let us fervently strive to be Orthodox Christians not in name only, but in our life. All things are given to us here: this holy place, this church, these services, our clergy, and we one to another. Together we can glorify God, support one another, and feel a little bit of Heavenly peace on earth."
Metropolitan Nicholas presented a gift to the church: an icon of the Holy Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky) of Vereya, which had belonged to the ever-memorable Metropolitan Hilarion.
After the service, the sisterhood treated all to a bountiful luncheon. Christian Richard, one of the sons of Mahopac’s departed warden Symeon Richard (Theodore in monasticism), arrived with his grill to treat all to Greek gyros. His brother and sister, who lived with their parents in Mahopac many years ago, came to help him.
After lunch, Metropolitan Nicholas took a walk through the grounds of the Hermitage, under the canopies of the trees, resplendent with autumn color, to the quiet cemetery, where the Hermitage’s founder, Archbishop Seraphim (Ivanov; +1987), is buried. This past summer marks 35 years since Archbishop Seraphim’s repose.
Metropolitan Nicholas’ visit to Mahopac was a long-awaited and joyous event. The parish hopes that His Eminence will visit the New Kursk Root Hermitage more often, as he is able.