On Sunday, May 15, the first hierarchal visitation to the Church of the Holy Innocents & St. Nina, Equal-to-the-Apostles, in Bristow, VA, was made by His Grace Nicholas, Bishop of Manhattan. The parish, founded on January 20, 2019, in response to the then-unfolding events in Ukraine, has labored to find a home fitting for a hierarchical Liturgy. In November 2020, it moved to its present location in Bristow. The labor of all parishioners made the visitation possible, and it coincided with the 20th anniversary of rector Archpriest Nectarios Trevino’s ordination to the priesthood.
Bishop Nicholas was greeted at the entrance with the traditional bread and salt by parish council members Depina Gellios and Igor Sapotko.
In attendance were 65 parishioners, many of whom routinely travel over an hour’s drive for a Sunday Divine Liturgy.
Concelebrating with His Grace at Liturgy were: Fr. Nectarios and parish Deacon Joseph Sirko. Parish altar servers George Dylan Townsend and Julian Sirko were honored to take part in the hierarchal service.
At the Little Entrance, Bishop Nicholas awarded Fr. Nectarios the right to wear the palitsa, representing the spiritual sword of God’s Word.
Upon completion of Liturgy, His Grace offered encouraging congratulatory words to the parishioners on their labors and the beauty of the parish. He encouraged them to continue persevering and have patience in their journey.
Speaking to Fr. Nectarios before the parish, Bishop Nicholas advised not to look back on the last 20 years, but rather look forward to the next 20 years. At the end of His Grace’s homily, Fr. Nectarios was presented with a gold and silver hand cross for devotion to the parishioners. On behalf of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, DC, Reader Christopher Lasek presented Fr. Nectarios an icon of the Holy Hierarch John of Shanghai & San Francisco.
After the service, the parish hosted a luncheon for the hierarch and clergy at a local Lebanese restaurant. Over 70 parishioners and Archpriest David Pratt (cleric of St. John the Baptist Cathedral) were in attendance, all of whom enjoyed the joyous occasion. At the dinner, the children presented Bishop Nicholas with a bouquet of red roses as a sign of appreciation; His Grace shared the flowers with the parish’s women. On behalf of the parish, Fr. Nectarios present an icon of St. Nina to the restaurant’s owner.
His Grace had to return to New York that afternoon to be with Metropolitan Hilarion, who reposed in the Lord the following day. For parishioners, the weekend was a bittersweet 24 hours: the glory of the visitation by His Grace, followed by hearts weeping for a saintly and humble First Hierarch of our Church. The events of May 15th, their first archpastoral visit, and the 16th, the falling asleep of Metropolitan Hilarion, serve well as a reminder of the course of life.