On Friday, June 24, when the Holy Church honors the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God and celebrate the memory of the Holy Apostles Bartholomew and Barnabas, as well as Venerable Barlaam of Khutyn (the skete’s lesser patronal feast day) Divine Liturgy was celebrated in Holy Protection Skete in Buena, NJ, and a panihida served for the 40th day of the repose of Metropolitan Hilarion, ever-memorable First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad.
Celebrating Liturgy was Archpriest Mark Shinn (rector of St. Andrew Naval Cathedral in Philadelphia, PA), co-served by skete rector Abbot Tikhon (Gayfudinov), Priest Gregory Winsky (cleric of Holy Trinity Church in Baltimore, MD), and Deacon Dimitri Krenitsky (skete cleric).
Parishioners of the skete and faithful from neighboring states gathered to pray for the repose of the Metropolitan.
Fr. Tikhon addressed those gathered with a sermon, in which he spoke, in part, about the life of Venerable Barlaam of Khutyn, a Russian saint who lived in the 12th century and labored on the banks of the Volkhov River not far from Novgorod. The ascetic chose the most desolate location for his prayer, which gave the spot its name ("Khutyn," which is derived from the Russian word for "meager" or "impoverished"). In our times the monastery has been restored and is now a convent.
This feast is especially celebrated in the skete, and during his lifetime, Metropolitan Hilarion would always come here on the feast day of St. Barlaam to serve and to interact with parishioners and pilgrims.
Remembering Metropolitan Hilarion, Fr. Tikhon noted that he, in the course of the 14 years of his obedience as First Hierarch, retained a deep humility, an unfeigned simplicity of spirit, a sincerity in prayer, and a kind and loving heart.
"Many saw in him not a hierarch, not a spiritual administrator, but rather saw a loving fatherly heart. That is how we remember our Vladyka Hilarion ‒ each in his own way, because every person came to him asking prayers for their what they needed in their lives, and he could spare for all a kind word, a smile, and fatherly love, and covered all of our problems with his prayers. And there is not one person who, receiving his blessing, did not depart from him soothed. We pray that the Lord grant repose to Vladyka’s soul in the mansions of the righteous and vouchsafe him the Heavenly Kingdom."
After Liturgy, a panihida was served for the ever-memorable Vladyka, after which parishioners continued to interact in the refectory, sharing their reminiscences about the Metropolitan.
Memory Eternal to our ever-memorable Vladyka and father Metropolitan Hilarion!