WASHINGTON DC: September 16, 2005

His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus Officiates at Celebrations in Washington DC


By the grace of God and through the efforts of the Building Committee of the Parish of St John the Baptist in Washington, construction of a chapel dedicated to the Montreal Iveron Icon of the Mother of God has been completed. The Chapel, which is in historic Rock Creek Cemetery, in the nation’s capital, was consecrated on September 10 by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

His Eminence added to the joy of the celebration by bringing with him the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, known as the Protectress of the Russian diaspora. Built in 12th-century Novgorod style, the chapel was erected as a memorial to the deceased founders and benefactors of the Parish of St John the Baptist, and to all the Orthodox Christians interred at the cemetery.

Our parishioner, architect Irina Vladimirovna Zarechnak, designed the structure. It was erected by a former parishioner, Herman Ricketts. Adam Ivanovitch Gootan, the venerable chairman of our Building Committee, acted as a consultant on the project. Vladyka Metropolitan presented each of these individuals a certificate of commendation [gramata] for their efforts.

Priest Theodore Jurewicz designed the Cross for the cupola. Mosaics on the western facade (the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God) and on the eastern wall (the Icon of the Savior Not-Made-by-Hands) were executed by Alexander Sokolov, a Muscovite iconographer.

The floor, the altar table, and the table of prothesis are made of white Jerusalem stone. The chapel interior will be decorated with a number of ceramic icons which are being fashioned in Switzerland by Dominique Lopez. Dominique and her husband Claude were close friends of murdered brother Joseph Munoz-Cortes, curator of the Iveron Icon.

The icons and mosaics for the newly-erected chapel were donated in memory of the late Archimandrite Nicholas Pekatoros—for many years the rector of our parish—by his spiritual children and by others who revere his memory. The granite commemorative plaques on the chapel walls were fashioned and donated by Michael Andreev, owner of Jordanville Monument Co.

Several days before the consecration of the chapel, the Parish Brotherhood tidied up the many gravesites, erected new crosses on five graves at which with the passage of time the previous they had deteriorated, and performed other tasks. Cemetery personnel erected tents and set up chairs for those for whom standing throughout the lengthy Services would be difficult.

Everything was in readiness by September 10, the date of consecration. The lesser consecration of the chapel began promptly at 9:00 am. His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, was principal celebrant; he was assisted by Protopriest Victor Potapov, Rector of the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Protodeacon Leonid Mickle, and Deacon John Cavin. Before and after the consecration, Protopriest Igor Hrebinka, a clergyman of the Cathedral, and Protopriest Peter Perekrestov, who had come from San Francisco, heard the confessions of those who intended to receive Holy Communion during the first requiem Liturgy, which was served immediately following the lesser consecration. Also present and praying at the Divine services was His Grace Bishop Gabriel.

Upon the completion of the lesser consecration, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus extended his warm greetings to our parishioners on the occasion of the successful completion of construction of this beautiful chapel which, the First-Hierarch stated, enhanced not only the oldest cemetery in the city, but also the capital of the USA itself.

In his homily at the requiem Liturgy, Fr Victor noted that the physical presence of the chapel is a reminder of the sanctity of the cemetery ground in which so many people near and dear to our hearts are interred, and that the prayers for “those who lie here,” living prayers raised up at the chapel today, serve as a reminder that all of us, those living and those departed from this temporal life, are members of one and the same Church, the One Body of Christ. Fr Victor further stated that the Chapel, dedicated to the Montreal Iveron Icon of the Mother of God is also a reminder of the spiritual struggle and service of martyred Joseph Munoz-Cortes, the chosen one of the Mother of God who over the course of 15 years brought us joy and comfort, generously sharing with us the grace of the Holy Icon.

The Divine services were enhanced by the harmonious and disciplined singing of the Cathedral Choir under Director Yuriy Alexandrovitch Petcherkine.

At the conclusion of Divine services, the celebration participants were given an opportunity to rest under the shade of a large tree, next to which were tables laden with refreshments prepared by the Cathedral Sisterhood.

On the evening on September 10, Vladyka Metropolitan Laurus was principal celebrant at the all-night vigil in the Cathedral of St John the Baptist. Concelebrating with him were His Grace Bishop Gabriel, the aforementioned clergy, and Priest John Barbus of Holy Transfiguration Church in Baltimore. In attendance at the Service was the renowned Romanian priest and confessor of the Christian faith, Fr. Georgi Calciu, as well as a host of Romanians, Greeks, and Georgians, all of whom came to join our parishioners in honoring the memory of St John the Baptist and praying before the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God.

Heading the celebration of the litya was His Grace Bishop Gabriel of Manhattan. At the litya, the clergy and faithful took part in a procession of the cross around the Church. The procession is intended to remind everyone that the Church of Christ is not bounded by the walls of the church building; rather the Church goes outside those borders and into the world in order to offer fervent prayers for God’s world.

The following morning, an hour and a half before the greeting of the First Hierarch, faithful gathered for confession. There was enough time to also sing an akathist to the Kursk Icon of the Mother of God.

At the Liturgy, during which the Cathedral Choir executed a number of new arrangements of liturgical chants, Subdeacon John Johnson was ordained to the deaconate. Fr John, a dedicated servant of the Church of Christ, has long been a parishioner of the Cathedral of St John the Baptist.

In his sermon, Vladyka Metropolitan reminded the faithful of the significance of the spiritual struggle carried on by the “greatest born of women”, St John the Baptist. “St John was a preacher of the Truth; when he saw the Law being violated, he was not afraid to criticize even the king. As noted in his troparion, he joyously suffered for the Truth.” Vladyka Metropolitan challenged the parishioners of Washington’s Cathedral of St John the Baptist to emulate their heavenly patron, and not be afraid to stand for the Truth and to defend the sacred gift of life.

Protopriest Victor Potapov