On Wednesday, February 7, the feast of the Holy Hierarch Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople, and Holy Hieromartyr Vladimir, Metropolitan of Kiev & Galicia, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, celebrated Divine Liturgy in the Church of Our Lady "Unexpected Joy" on Staten Island, NY.
His Eminence was co-served by Archpriest Alexander Belya (dean of New York City); Archimandrite Elevferiy (Skiba; dean of "Inexhaustible Chalice" Church in Brooklyn, NY); Archpriest Serge Lukianov (diocesan secretary); Abbot Vladimir (Zgoba; parish rector); Hieromonk Tikhon (Gayfudinov; abbot of the Hermitage of the Holy Protection in Buena, NJ) and Protodeacon Leonid Roschko (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ).
During Liturgy, Metropolitan Hilarion ordained Deacon Thomas Janikowski to the priesthood; Fr. Thomas is a former Anglican priest, who will fulfill his service in a WesternRite parish in Iowa. Also praying in church was Priest Mark Grant, who was ordained to the priesthood a day earlier, who will fulfill his service in a Western Rite parish in Virginia.
Believers flocked to the church from various boroughs of New York, many of whom received Holy Communion.
At the end of Liturgy, Metropolitan Hilarion briefly discussed the life of the Holy Hierarch Gregory the Theologian and his contributions to the fight against Church heresies. He also talked about the first of the New Martyrs & Confessors of Russia – Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev & Galicia, the centennial anniversary of whose martyrdom is celebrated on February 7.
"It was on this day, he was seized, tortured, and shot outside the walls of the Kiev Caves Lavra," said the Metropolitan. "Metropolitan Vladimir became the first of the many millions of New Martyrs of the Russian Church, and is the Heavenly patron of the rector of this church, Fr. Vladimir."
His Eminence congratulated Fr. Vladimir on his namesday and expressed his gratitude for his many years of service to the church. Metropolitan Hilarion presented Fr. Vladimir an icon of the Holy Right-Believing Prince Peter & Princess Febronia of Murom.
The dean of the Metropolitas Metochion in Brooklyn, Archimandrite Elevferiy, likewise congratulated Fr. Vladimir on his namesday, presenting him with a set of priestly vestments on behalf of the clergy and parishioners.
On behalf of the diocesan cathedral, Fr. Serge Lukianov presented the parish rector with a Psalter. The Dean of New York City, Fr. Alexander Belya, likewise congratulated Fr. Vladimir, offering many words of praise on his behalf.
After the service, the rector invited the clergy and guests to a festal meal, lovingly prepared by parishioners of the parish. Those gathered were able to interact in an informal manner, and additional congratulatory words were expressed toward the rector and the faithful, who support the parish with their labor and prayers.