SYNOD OF BISHOPS: December 14, 2004

Celebration of Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God


Having returned from South America to Holy Trinity Monastery on the evening of December 7, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus headed for New York on the 9th. There he officiated at the service on the feast day of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, the Hodigitria [protectress] of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and of the Russian diaspora in general, which had found itself in exile after the events of 1917. His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland also came for the celebration.

All-night vigil was begun by Priest Serafim Gan along with Protodeacon Eugene Burbelo, Protodeacon Nicolas Mokhoff, Protodeacon Paul Wolkow, Deacon Dimitri Temidis and Deacon Vadim Arefiev. The joyous singing of the Synodal Choir, under the direction of P.A. Fekula, added to the ceremonious mood of the multitude of worshipers gathered at the Cathedral. The men performed all the sticheron sung to special melodies in the service to the Hodigitria. Bishop Peter of Cleveland officiated during the litany with the blessing of the loaves, and His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, Bishop Peter and Bishop Gabriel of Manhattan emerged for the polyeleos along with 10 priests from the New York area and the above-named deacons. Before the beginning of the festal canon, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus turned to the worshipers with a sermon. Then His Eminence anointed the worshipers with oil before the lauds. Bishop Gabriel presided during the Great magnification. At the end of vigil, the clergy was offered a repast at the residence of Bishop Gabriel with the assistance of Protopriest Andrei Sommer, the Senior Priest of the Synodal Cathedral.

The following morning, His Eminence Vladyka officiated at divine liturgy along with Bishop Gabriel and Bishop Peter, 17 priests and 6 deacons, attended by a great multitude of worshipers. This day, two chalices were used. During "Blessed is the name of the Lord," Bishop Peter read a sermon on the holiday, after which a moleben was performed. Afterwards, Bishop Peter congratulated His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus as the Cathedral Rector, as well as Bishop Gabriel and all those in attendance. Then the appropriate "Many Years" were sung. On this day, the Cathedral celebrated the 20th anniversary from the day of the consecration of Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney and the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, who spent his first 12 years as bishop at the Synodal Cathedral. Many of the clergy and parishioners telephoned Australia to congratulate Vladyka on this milestone date and to wish him health and future success in serving the Church of Christ.

During the trapeza offered by the sisterhood in the Synodal hall, Bishop Gabriel greeted His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus and Bishop Peter of Cleveland, and also noted the work done by Warden V.K. Galitzine and his assistants, the sisterhood and the choir, led by P.A. Fekula and Irina Mozyleva, who conducted during divine liturgy. Protodeacon Eugene Burbelo, congratulating everyone on their Cathedral feast day, shared some of his own thoughts. During the solemn services, Protodeacon Eugene's thoughts turned to the ancient city of Kursk, where in May he received a protodeacon's horarion from Metropolitan Juvenaly of Kursk and Ryl'sk, who retired last summer and assumed the great schema. When he received this gift, Protodeacon Eugene promised the venerable elder metropolitan that he would first don it on the feast day of the Kursk Icon, which he did. It is noteworthy that Protodeacon Eugene was married, ordained and served for almost 50 years at the Cathedral dedicated to the Kursk Hodigitria, and so he accepted this gift from Metropolitan Juvenaly as a blessing from the Most-Pure Mother. In his conclusion, His Eminence Vladyka spoke a few words about fasting and the need for inner preparation for the Nativity of Christ, in order to establish within our hearts the manger for Christ's birth.