Your Eminences & Graces, our beloved Brother Hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, together with all its reverend Clergy and Christ-loving Faithful,
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
We were deeply moved when we heard of the repose of our beloved brother and concelebrant, His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion. We knew him to be a man of faith, integrity, and principle. While humble in spirit and loving in temperament, he was also firm and resolute in fulfilling his archpastoral ministry. His fatherly concern and immovable faithfulness endeared him to his flock. Having served as a bishop for 38 years and as First Hierarch for 14, he earned the love of his people, his clergy, and his brother bishops.
We recently witnessed all of this firsthand, when we joined His Eminence in celebrating his namesday last fall. During Divine Liturgy, we felt his prayerful, holy presence; at the luncheon that followed, we heard speech after speech in loving praise of a cherished archpastor. He will truly be missed, not only in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, but also throughout Orthodoxy in America. Our archdiocese was blessed to have a true partner in Vladyka Hilarion, and we pray that our relationship with your church will ever remain so.
The psalmist once cried out, "Who will give me wings like a dove, and I will fly away and be at rest?" (54:7). Patriarch Elias IV of thrice-blessed memory once said that a faithful hierarch does not really die, but ascends on the dove-like wings of the Holy Spirit to a true and holy rest. Cherishing this hope even as we mourn, we trust that Vladyka is now looking down upon his flock and praying for their salvation.
Joined by my brother hierarchs and the reverend clergy, esteemed trustees, and pious faithful of our archdiocese, I offer sincere condolences on the passing into eternal life of that well-beloved chief shepherd, Metropolitan Hilarion. May his memory be eternal! And may God grant comfort to all who mourn him.
Yours in Christ,
Archbishop of New York & Metropolitan of all North America