EASTERN AMERICAN DIOCESE: September 10, 2013
Metropolitan Hilarion Visits St Andrew Church in St Petersburg, FL

On August 31-September 1, 2013, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, visited his parish in St Petersburg, FL.

During these days the community celebrates its annual feast day, Holy Martyr Andrew Stratilatos. This year marks the 65 th anniversary of the founding of the parish and the 20 th anniversary of the rectorship of Protopriest Igor Chitikov. His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada also came to congratulate the parishioners.

During Divine Liturgy, in addition to the rector and parish clergymen Deacon Igor Tarasov and Deacon Vladimir Trushin, concelebrating with the bishops were: Archimandrite Nektary (Harding) and Protopriest John Carlos Rios from Kissimmee’s Spanish mission; Hieromonk Nicholas (Perekrestov) from Fort Myers; Hieromonk Mark (Calderon) from Nicaragua; Hieromonk Tikhon (Gayfudinov) from New York; Protodeacon Basil Milonov of Ottawa, Canada and Deacon Michael Criscella of Ft Lauderdale, FL.

During the minor entrance, Metropolitan Hilarion awarded Dcn Igor with a double orarion, and during the dismissale, gave Protopriest Igor the Synodal Medal of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign,” Third Degree, and the parish warden Konstantin Hetschinof an Honorary Gramata of the First Hierarch.

In his sermon, Archbishop Gabriel told of the life of St Andrew, reminding the parishioners that their community bears a holy name, and elaborated on the meaning of parish service outside the borders of the homeland.

Metropolitan Hilarion said a few words, congratulating the parish clergymen, matushkas and their families, the members of the parish council, choir members, sisterhood, parishioners and all the worshipers present on their feast day, wishing them salvation, health and further success to the glory of God.

The service was adorned with the wonderful singing of the parish choir under the direction of Vladislav Markov. More than half of the choir members are professional singers, and the choir is considered one of the best of the Church Abroad.

During the festive trapeze that followed, the singers gave a brief concert of lay music, which included arias by Russian composers, romances, and Russian, Ukrainian and Belarussian folk songs.

After the important guests departed, the parishioners remained to share their impressions of the celebrations. They noted especially the remarkable human qualities of the Metropolitan: his accessibility, kindness, attention and universal respect. The parishioners sensed his love and paternal care .

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