On Saturday, March 25, His Eminence Nicholas, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, arrived in Washington, DC, to officiate the divine services for the 4th Sunday of Great Lent and the first Unction service of the Fast for parishioners of the capital’s St. John the Baptist Cathedral (the second will take place on Sunday, April 2).
Accompanying His Eminence were Protodeacon Eugene Kallaur (cleric of St. Seraphim Memorial Church in Sea Cliff, NY) and Hierodeacon Panteleimon (Jigalin; diocesan cleric). The travelers lodged in the home of cathedral rector Archpriest Victor Potapov.
At 5 o’clock in the evening, Metropolitan Nicholas arrived at the church for the beginning of All-Night Vigil. He was warmly greeted by cathedral clergy, parishioners, and guests.
After Vigil, which was sung by two choirs – Slavonic and English – a team of chefs from the English-speaking part of the parish treated His Eminence and the visiting clergy to a wonderful lenten Lebanese supper.
At 9 o’clock the following morning, the triumphal greeting of the First Hierarch took place. Cathedral warden Maxim Agapov greeted Metropolitan Nicholas with the traditional bread and salt and a word of welcome. During the Hours, His Eminence tonsured three parishioners readers: John Daly, William Wilson, and Alexander Covell. Reader Artem Asoskov was awarded the right to wear the orarion for his dedicated service to the Church.
Upon conclusion of Liturgy, in accordance with local custom established a year ago, a short moleben was served before the relics of the Venerable Saints of the Kiev Caves Lavra for the cessation of military conflict in Ukraine.
After the moleben, Metropolitan Nicholas delivered a sermon dedicated to Venerable John of the Ladder. A video of the His Eminence’s sermon is available here.
After the service, the sisterhood organized a luncheon for the multitude of worshippers. So many people were present that many had to be seated in the two auxiliary parish spaces.
At 6:30 in the evening on March 26, the faithful gathered once again in greater number in the church for the beginning of the year’s first general parish Unction service.
The Sacrament of Holy Unction was served in two alternating languages – English and Church Slavonic. Serving alongside Metropolitan Nicholas were the rector, Fr. Victor, Archpriest Nectarios Trevino (rector of Holy Innocents & St. Nina Church in Bristow, VA) Priest Damian Dantinne (cathedral cleric), Priest Eugene Antonov (rector of Joy of All Who Sorrow Church in Cumming (Atlanta), GA), Priest Sergei Kosov (rector of St. Joseph of Optina Church in Virginia Beach, VA), Frs. Eugene Kallaur and Panteleimon (Jigalin), and Protodeacon Blagoje Siljegovic and Deacon John Dean (cathedral clerics).
The following morning, March 27, the sisterhood organized a reception for five lawyers from Becket Law Firm, which is currently defending ROCOR’s rights in court. During the luncheon, Protodeacon Leonid Mickle (cathedral cleric) led the guests on a tour of the church. After showing them the cathedral, a luncheon was held in the parish library, during which Metropolitan Nicholas and representatives of the capital parish interacted warmly with the lawyers.
On Tuesday, March 27, after his three-day visit to the American capital, the First Hierarch returned to his residence in New York City.
We are overjoyed that the Lord vouchsafed us to spend so much quality time with the Primate of our Church.
And now let us continue to fast "a well-pleasing fast" unto the salvation of our souls.
Archpriest Victor Potapov
"Unto the Healing of Soul & Body" ‒ On the Visit of Metropolitan Nicholas to St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, DC - 03/26/23
Photos: Pdcn. E. Kallaur, M. Cavanaugh