On February 20, the Sunday of the Prodigal Son and Afterfeast of the Meeting of the Lord, Saint Elizabeth the New-Martyr Church in Rocky Hill, NJ, welcomed His Grace Nicholas, Bishop of Manhattan, vicar of the Eastern American Diocese, for an archpastoral visit.
During the Sixth Hour, three men were tonsured readers for the parish: Michael Fiocca, Gabriel Tobal, and Michael Pingel. Immediately afterward, Reader Michael Fiocca was ordained a subdeacon. Parishioners were overjoyed that these three men, who have begun serving Christ’s Church in the choir and altar, were entering the first degrees of the priesthood, and prayed that their ministry within the Church will be long and fruitful.
Bishop Nicholas celebrated Divine Liturgy, co-served by: Archpriest David Straut (parish rector), Protodeacon Peter Markevich (cleric of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY), and Protodeacon Seraphim Komleski and Deacon Daniel Brown (parish clerics).
Upon completion of the service, Bishop Nicholas delivered an edifying homily. After Liturgy, a luncheon was provided by the sisterhood.
This was the last Sunday that Reader Gabriel Tobal will be present at St Elizabeth’s for a while; he is leaving on a humanitarian mission with First Things Foundation to Sierra Leone in West Africa. He should be serving there for two years, working on humanitarian projects based on the needs of the local population. He will also be assisting a local Orthodox hieromonk in spreading the Orthodox Faith, for which his being tonsured a reader will be a great help, as he will be conducting reader’s services in a village eight hours away from the Orthodox church in the capital city of Freetown.
St. Elizabeth Church is an English-language parish of the Diocese located near Princeton, NJ. It was a great joy to have Bishop Nicholas visit, bringing with him the blessing of the ruling bishop: Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad. The parishioners of St Elizabeth’s and visitors from other parishes who joined them that day experienced the Divine Liturgy in its most essential form: a bishop serving with his priests and deacons, leading the faithful in their prayer to God and feeding them with the Immaculate Mysteries: the Body and Blood of Christ.