(ROCOR-EAD) - In accordance with annual custom, on Bright Saturday, May 11, a joint Divine Liturgy was held between clerics of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA and the Eastern American Diocese of the Russian Church Abroad. Though in previous years the bright and triumphal concelebration was held in St. Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in New York City, this year the Liturgy was held at Three Saints Church in Garfield, NJ.
The Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes, His Eminence Justinian, Archbishop of Naro-Fominsk, celebrated the divine service, co-served by His Grace, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Jerome of Manhattan, and a multitude of clergy of the One Russian Church. Owing to illness, the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, who had intended to lead the service, was unable to attend.
Prior to the beginning of the service, Archbishop Justinian tonsured three parishioners of the Patriarchal Parishes readers: George Konyev (Three Saints Church), Alexander Bacik (St. Elias Church in Battle Creek, MI), and Valeriy Ignatov (St. Nicholas Church in Bayonne, NJ). During the Little Entrance, with the blessing of His Holiness Kyrill, Patriarch of Moscow & All Russia, His Eminence bestowed clerical awards on several of the Patriarchal clergy: Archpriests Roman Star (Dean of the Central States) and Timothy Barna (rector of St. Michael the Archangel Church in Redford, MI) were awarded the miter; Archpriest Lawrence Bacik (rector of St. Elias Church), the jeweled cross; and Priest Mikhail Kapchits (rector of St. Nicholas Church in Bayonne) was elevated to the rank of archpriest.
After the Prayer behind the Ambo, Archbishop Justinian proclaimed the Prayer at the Breaking of the Artos, after which the Archpastors, clergy, and faithful processed around the grandiose church, with their joyous cries of "Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!" proclaiming to the surrounding populace the radiant arising from the dead of the Savior.
After the Liturgy, thanking everyone for a successful and triumphal feast and congratulating the newly awarded clergy and tonsured readers, Archbishop Justinian addressed the faithful with a warm word of greeting:
"For an Orthodox person, it comes naturally, when his heart is full of love and joy, to share this treasure with his other brothers. This Paschal Bright Week you and I were all called to renew the feelings of our faith in the Resurrected Savior Christ, because we are all people – sometimes we burn brightly and evenly, while other times we begin to flicker, or even despair – that is when unifying in prayer supports each of us. Tomorrow, when you and I hear the words of the Gospel regarding St. Thomas, which contain his confession of faith – ‘My Lord and my God!’, we will each be called upon to reply individually, triumphantly. I speak it truthfully on my own behalf – ‘My Lord and my God!’
"It is a great misfortune that the Metropolitan has fallen ill. Yet we feel his prayers, and his presence is palpable among us. We can sense that the Metropolitan is with us. We know also how closely His Holiness, the Patriarch, pays attention to the development of our common Orthodox life.
"I thank all of you, beloved, for putting in the effort and coming here to the Divine Liturgy today. You remind me of Sts. Luke and Cleopas, who believed on Christ’s Resurrection in Emmaus and, despite their exhaustion, immediately arose and made haste to Jerusalem once more. They could have stayed in Emmaus, and you could be in your parishes right now. But you made haste to join the fullness of the Church! Right now, your service is truly equal to that of the Apostles. I call down God’s blessing on you and wish that, just as you made haste to this gathering today, so may your spiritual children, your parishioners, likewise make haste to the church in which you serve. Christ is risen!"