This year, the parish of St John the Baptist, which St John of Shanghai founded in 1949, prayerfully marked the 59th celebration of its patronal feast day, in honor of the Beheading of the Holy Prophet, Forerunner of the Lord and Baptist John.
The services prescribed by the Typicon were celebrated on September 10 and 11. Although memorial services should not be served of one's parish feast day, it was decided, out of love, to celebrate a pannikhida after the Liturgy on September 11, for the innocent victims of the conflict in the Caucasus, and for Orthodox soldiers who "have laid down their life for Faith and fatherland", and for Alexander Isaievich Solzhenitsyn (on his 40th day).
On September 12, 2008, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion arrived in the capital. This was His Eminence's first visit to Washington as First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. On September 12, the Metropolitan celebrated a Liturgy for the Departed in the parish's Iveron Chapel, in the old cemetery in Rock Creek. During the Liturgy, the founders, benefactors, adorners and parishioners of St John the Baptist Cathedral, who have departed this transitory life, and with them all the Orthodox Christians buried in that cemetery, were commemorated.
That evening, Metropolitan Hilarion presided over the solemn vigil service at the Cathedral. Concelebrating with him were the parish rector, Mitred Protopriest Victor Potapov, Protopriest Anastasios Yatrelis (who arrived from South Carolina), Priest Basil Rashkovsky, Priest Gabriel Lapardin (from Australia), Priest John Johnson, Protodeacon Leonid Mikhailichenko, Protodeacon John Kevin, Deacon Eugene Kallaur and Deacon Alexander Reznikov. Two choirs provided exceptional music—that directed by YA Pecherkin, which sang in Slavonic, and that directed by Jordan Brewer, which sang in English.
On September 14, at 9:30 am, Cathedral Warden DM Zaretsky greeted the Metropolitan at the entrance of the church with brad and salt. In his welcoming speech, the warden noted the special role His Eminence had played in the reunification of the Church of Russia.
The most joyous moment of the entire parish festivity was the ordination of Deacon Alexander Reznikov to the priesthood, the elevation of the Reader Victor Klimenko to the subdeaconate, and the tonsure of Daniel Gregoire as a reader.
During the Liturgy, countless faithful received communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ from three chalices.
His Eminence dedicated his sermon at the Liturgy to John the Baptist, the "friend of the heavenly Bridegroom." In his homily, the Metropolitan extended his heartfelt congratulations to the new young clergymen of St John the Baptist Cathedral, and desired for them exceptional strength and spiritual strength in their ministry to the Church of Christ.
After the traditional procession, the Holy Protection Sisterhood provided a sumptuous banquet. Parishioners and guest who had come from various cities across the USA, and even from Australia, dined with joy and shared their impressions of the spiritual solemnity. His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, set aside time for private conversation with anyone who wished it and answered innumerable questions.
The following day, September 15, at 12:00, a meeting of the Orthodox clergy of the entire Washington area, from all jurisdictions, was held in the parish house of St John the Baptist Cathedral, followed by a meal prepared by the Holy Protection Sisterhood. Thirty clergymen of various nationalities took the opportunity to become better acquainted with Metropolitan Hilarion, and with one another, in a relaxed atmosphere.
On September 16, Protopriest Victor Potapov received an invitation from the Embassy of the Russian Federation to visit the diplomatic compound to express condolences in connection with the demise of the innocent victims of the Caucasus conflict, and to offer prayers for the departed.