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NEW YORK/CHICAGO/BERLIN: October 20, 2009
The Celebration of the Protection of the Most-Holy Mother of God in Churches of the Russian Diaspora

Glen Cove, NY

At the Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin in Glen Cove, NY, Divine Liturgy on its feast day was headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, who was joined in the service by Mitred Protopriest Alexey Ohotin, Dean of the First Deanery of the Diocese of Eastern America and New York; Protopriest Alexander Abramov, Deputy Representative of His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow and All Russia to the United States; Protopriest Andrei Sommer, Senior Priest of the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign; Hegumen Varsonofy (Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate); Protopriest Serafim Gan; Priest Ilya Gun; Priest Alexandre Antchoutine, Rector of Intercession Church; and Priest Andrei Kortusov. During minor entrance, His Eminence awarded Fr Alexander Antchoutine the kamilavka, and Fr Andrei Kortusov the skufia.

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Chicago, IL

This year the celebration of our cathedral's patronal feast day was special in many ways for it was also the 60th anniversary of the founding of the parish. In addition, we were blessed by the presence of the wonder-working icon of the Theotokos "Softening of Hardened Hearts."

The greeting of the icon took place on the eve of the holiday amongst a large gathering of worshipers in addition to over 20 clergy. The icon was met at the entrance of the church and brought in accompanied by the singing of the troparion. A short moleben was served and the vigil service then began.  The following morning began with an early blessing of the waters. Divine Liturgy was led by His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland and concluded with a procession or the cross around the church. It is important to note that despite being a weekday, the church was full even to the point of being difficult to move about, and 114 people partook of the Holy Mysteries from two chalices.

At the conclusion of Liturgy, the icon was brought into the church hall where there was a holiday banquet. In his speech about the feast, Vladyka Peter noted that "a church's feast day is like a second Pascha," and indeed it was felt that this holiday bestowed upon our parishioners a feeling of great joy and warmth.

On the occasion of its 60th anniversary, the brotherhood greeted and thanked all founding parishioners.

A special thanks was offered on the part of Vladyka Peter to the pontifical choir on the day of its heavenly intercessor, St Romanos. This year we were also fortunate to have a diocesan choir consisting of singers from Cleveland, St Louis, Cincinnati, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, under the direction of Reader Alexander Petrowsky, to sing the stikhera at the vigil service antiphonally in English and Slavonic. On the next day, all sang in one choir under the direction of Dr Michael Gill. It is a credit to the musical talents of our diocesan singers that this group of nearly 40 people were able to sing complicated compositions all the while creating a prayerful and festive atmosphere.

In the later half of the day, the wonderworking icon remained in the church, during which there was a nearly continuous stream of people who came to venerate it, serving molebens and reading akathists nearly until midnight. On the following day, the icon continued her travels to Cleveland.

Once again, we would like to greet everyone on the feast day of the Protection of the Mother of God and to express our thanks to everyone who worked for weeks before to make this holiday a truly joyous and bright occasion!

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Berlin, Germany

His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany celebrated Divine Liturgy in Protection Church in Berlin, along with Priest Andrej Sikojev and other visiting clergymen. At the end of the service, new cupolas and a cross were consecrated and installed.

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