The celebration in honor of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign" is a special day for the Russian Church Abroad and the entire Russian Diaspora. It is one of the more ancient icons of the Russian Orthodox Church, having appeared miraculously on the feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos at the root of a tree 18 miles from Kursk, and after the October Revolution in 1917 was taken on a long journey through Europe to the United States, where it has performed many miracles. On January 23, 1951, accompanied by Archimandrite Averky (Taushev) – later Archbishop of Syracuse & Holy Trinity – the icon arrived at its first American "home" – the New Kursk Root Hermitage in Mahopac, NY.
This year is a jubilee year for the Synodal Headquarters, which marks 60 years. In 1958, the Synod of Bishops moved to New York’s East Side, to a mansion at 75 East 93rd Street. A new Synodal cathedral was constructed within; just as the cathedral in Kursk, it was consecrated in honor of the Kursk Root Icon "of the Sign."
On Monday, December 10, festal Liturgy in the cathedral was celebrated by the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York. Concelebrating with His Eminence were Archbishops Mark of Berlin & Germany and Gabriel of Montreal & Canada, Bishops Irenei of Richmond & Western Europe, Theodosius of Seattle (vicar of the Western American Diocese), George of Canberra (vicar of the Diocese of Australia & New Zealand), and Nicholas of Manhattan (vicar of the Eastern American Diocese), as well as diocesan clergy:
- Archpriest Alexander Belya (dean of New York City)
- Archimandrite Elevferiy (Skiba; dean of "Inexhaustible Chalice" Church in Brooklyn, NY)
- Archpriest Serge Lukianov (dean of New Jersey)
- Archpriest Serafim Gan (chancellor of the Synod of Bishops)
- Archpriest Elias Gorsky (rector of Holy Virgin Protection Church in Nyack, NY)
- Abbot Vladimir (Zgoba; rector of "Unexpected Joy" Church in Staten Island, NY)
- Archpriest Luka Novakovic (cleric of St. Nicholas Monastery in North Ft. Myers, FL)
- Archpriest Mark Burachek (rector of Our Lady of Kazan Church in Newark, NJ)
- Archpriest Andrei Sommer (cathedral senior priest)
- Archpriest Petro Kunitsky (cleric of Holy New Martyrs of Russia Church in Brooklyn)
- Abbot Theophylact (Clapper-DeWell; cleric of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY)
- Abbot Eutychius (Dovganyuk; cleric of St. Gregory the Theologian Church in New York City)
- Archpriest Brendan Crowley (rector of St. Nicholas Church in Enfield, CT)
- Archpriest Alexandre Antchoutine (dean of Long Island & the Hudson Valley)
- Archpriest Constantine Semyanko (rector of Holy Presentation Church in Stratford, CT)
- Archpriest Paul Ivanov (rector of Holy Myrrhbearers Church in Brooklyn)
- Archpriest Edward Seraphim Chemodakov (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ)
- Abbot Tikhon (Gayfudinov; abbot of Holy Protection Skete in Buena, NJ)
- Hieromonk Zosimas (Krampis; rector of St. Sergius English Mission at the Synod)
- Priest George Temidis (rector of the New Kursk Root Hermitage in Mahopac)
- Priest Daniel Franzen (cleric of the Mid-American Diocese)
- Priest George Kaplanov (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral)
- Protodeacon Nicolas Mokhoff (cathedral cleric)
- Protodeacon Serge Arlievsky (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY)
- Protodeacon Eugene Kallaur (cleric of St. Seraphim Memorial Church in Sea Cliff, NY)
- Protodeacon Leonid Roschko (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral)
- Protodeacon Sergei Shoomiloff (cleric of Our Lady of Kazan Church in Newark)
- Deacon Michael Wengrin (cleric of St. Basil Church in Simpson, PA)
- Deacon Michael Pavuk (cleric of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Mayfield, PA)
- Deacon Pavel Roudenko (cathedral cleric)
- Deacon Nicholas Ilyin (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo").
At the service, Metropolitan Hilarion ordained Reader Nicholas – cleric of Our Lady of Kazan Church in Newark and member of the Eastern American Diocesan Council – a subdeacon.
At the Little Entrance, for his fervent labors in the Cathedral of the Sign, Hieromonk Zosimas (Krampis) was elevated to the rank of abbot, while for his dedicated service to the Holy Church, Archpriest Constantine Semyanko was awarded the right to wear the jeweled cross.
Despite its being a workday, the cathedral was filled with worshippers – parishioners of the cathedral and guests. All were able to venerate and pray before the wonderworking image of the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora.
Most of those in church for the feast communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries. The faithful were communed from three chalices.
Prayerfully singing the divine services was the Synodal choir, under the direction of its long-time conductor Peter Fekula.
Upon completion of Liturgy, Metropolitan Hilarion congratulated Archpriest Constantine, Abbot Zosimas, and Subdeacon Nicholas, and thanked them for their sacrificial labors on behalf of the Holy Orthodox Church.
For her dedicated and long-time work in the Russian Orthodox Youth Committee and in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign, Matushka Nadezhda Mokhoff was awarded the Synodal Order of the Mother of God of the Sign, 3rd Class.
Gramotas from the President of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad were presented to George V. and Madina V. Stepanchenko, as well as to Oleg V. Trofimenko for his dedicated participation in the life of the Synodal choir and long-time labors in adorning the cathedral.
Bishop Theodosius read aloud the Epistle of the Synod of Bishops to the Clergy and Flock of the Russian Church Abroad regarding events transpiring in Ukraine.
After the service, the cathedral sisterhood organized a festal banquet for the clergy and faithful, during which words of congratulation were offered to Metropolitan Hilarion, who was consecrated a bishop on December 10, 1984. Throughout the luncheon, many kind words were also offered to those who labor at the Synodal cathedral.
New York City: First Hierarch of Russian Church Abroad leads Patronal Feast of Synodal Cathedral - 12/10/18
Photos: Media Offie of the Eastern American Dioese - P. Lukianov