On Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 9th of July, Metropolitan Nicholas of Eastern America & New York paid an archpastoral visit to Our Lady of Tikhvin Church in Howell, NJ, on the occasion of its patronal feast day. There, he officiated the All-Night Vigil the eve prior and celebrated Divine Liturgy on the morning of the feast. Concelebrating with His Eminence were parish and deanery clergy:
- Archpriest Vasily Andrejuk (parish cleric)
- Archpriest Serge Lukianov (parish rector)
- Archpriest Boris Slootsky (parish cleric)
- Abbot Eutychius (Dovgan; abbot of St. Nicholas Skete in Freehold, NJ)
- Abbot Arseny (Manko; rector of Sts. Cosmas & Damian Church in Passaic, NJ)
- Archpriest Leonid Goferman (rector of Holy Virgin Protection Church in New Brunswick, NJ)
- Priest Anthony Williams
- Protodeacon Paul Drozdowski, and
- Deacon Alexandre Sarandinaki (parish clerics).
The rector, Fr. Serge, greeted His Eminence. During Vigil and Liturgy, the parish choir sang under the direction of choir conductor Alexandra Lukianov.
During the reading of the Hours, Metropolitan Nicholas tonsured Holy Trinity Seminary (Jordanville, NY) graduate Stephan Lukianov a reader.
A multitude of parishioners gathered for both services. At Liturgy, most of these communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
Upon completion of Liturgy, Metropolitan Nicholas greeted everyone with the feast and addressed the faithful with a sermon on the Gospel reading – on the expulsion of the legion of demons, saying, in part:
"So it is in our lives, as well – Christ is with us, we commune, we are being saved – but how do we receive the Divine Teacher Himself – His teaching, His truth? Do we invite Christ the Savior into our lives, into our families, into our home? Or by our actions, by our sins, do we also neglect what Christ is teaching us, what Christ is saying to us? We must all think on this.
"Here before us is the wondrous icon of the Mother of God. A humble, tranquil, pure face. She appears as though also entreating us: do not forget my Son, your Savior Jesus Christ. I gave birth to the Savior of the world. He took on the Cross and death, rose from the dead, and gave you eternal life. You must hear this understand this, and receive my Son – your Savior – into your lives. This marvelous icon calls out to us with these words. Let us hear these words, dear brothers and sisters. Let us thank God that we have this salvific ark. Here is our history, our wealth, and most importantly – our Orthodox Faith. The rules of life, the laws, the commandments, that we all receive here regularly – let us hear and confidently have no fear, have no shyness about receiving our Savior into our lives. Let us not, as the Gadarenes, sent Christ further away from us. And the Mother of God – a loving Mother – will help us to be humbly, to settle ourselves, to repent, and to manifest heartfelt love, in order to receive the Lord into our lives. That is what today is about – as we glorify our Savior, risen from the dead, and the Mother of God, let us receive these words into our lives and, by our example, by our good words, relay to other people that they too can be saved, possessing the true Orthodox Faith."
The clergy and faithful then went in procession around the church to a newly installed memorial plaque containing a short history of Our Lady of Tikhvin Church, which Metropolitan Nicholas blessed.
Upon returning to the church, the rector thanked the First Hierarch for his visit and joint prayers, and presented him with an archpastoral walking staff, which had been blessed on the relics of the Holy Hierarch Spyridon of Tremithus in Greece. A set of chalice covers was also presented as a gift for the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City.
Everyone then proceeded to the church hall, where the cathedral sisterhood prepared a festal luncheon for the clergy, parishioners, and guests, after which Metropolitan Nicholas blessed a new children’s room, which had been arranged and organized by Subdeacon Roman Serebrennikov and helpers.
The faithful then departed for home with firm intention to pray to the Mother of God on this and many others days, including the following day, when they would once more gather for festal prayer in Our Lady of Tikhvin Church.
Howell, NJ: Metropolitan Nicholas officiates Divine Services for Patronal Feast of Our Lady of Tikhvin Church - 07/09/23
Photos: Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese - T. Veselkina