Because of Covid restrictions, the physical celebrations of this momentous event have been curtailed. Metropolitan Hilarion, our Bishop and First Hierarch, provided these reflections in an interview on our diocesan web page.
METROPOLITAN HILARION: "IF THERE IS PRAYER AND REPENTANCE, THE LORD WILL POUR FORTH HIS GRACE”
This year, 2020, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) is marking its centennial. Although most of the celebrations were postponed until better times because of the pandemic, some of them have already taken place, locally. Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch of ROCOR, discusses what has been accomplished over the century and what challenges the Church faces today.
‒ Your Eminence, most of the centennial celebrations had to be postponed until next year. Is there a general understanding of how this will happen?
‒ We planned to mark the 100th anniversary of the Russian exodus, which occurred in 1920 but, because of the coronavirus, the celebrations were postponed. We still cannot discuss concrete plans, since we do not know what is still to come. The pandemic forces us to mitigate activities for the sake of the people’s health, so we need to wait and adjust to circumstances.
But we are conducting local events. For instance, at the end of December, the St. Herman’s Youth Conference will be held via Zoom, and on December 25, when the Church celebrates the memory of St. Herman of Alaska, Liturgy will be celebrated at the Synod in New York City. Our youth can watch it via the Internet.
‒ What in your view is the main outcome of this century for ROCOR and why?
‒ The main thing is that the spiritual wealth of the Russian Church is always active by the grace of God. It is important that we preserve it today. We strive to continue this spiritual path, chosen by Metropolitans Anthony (Khrapovitsky) and Anastassy (Gribanovsky) and other First Hierarchs, and of course by the episcopacy of the Church Abroad. This allows us to keep the flame of faith and spiritual traditions burning.
‒ What events in the history of the Church Abroad do you deem most noteworthy?
‒ I think that every year of the century played an important role for our history. In the first years, the hierarchical structure of the Russian Church Abroad was established, the First and Second All-Diaspora Councils convened in Sremski Karlovci, Yugoslavia, in 1921 and 1938, which became foundational for our continuing Church life. After that, unfortunately, some disagreements and schisms arose, especially in Europe. But, on the whole, the Russian Church Abroad continued upon its path of preserving the holy Orthodox Faith and spiritual ministry of the Russian Diaspora in various countries throughout the world, where our compatriots found themselves.
‒ Recently, we marked another jubilee—the 725th anniversary of the appearance of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, which is the Directress or Protectress of the Russian Diaspora. In recent months, it has rarely left New York, and for the first time in many years it was not brought to Russia, where hundreds of thousands await this remarkable icon. Does the Church plan on restarting these pilgrimages?
‒ As I already said, because of the pandemic, we are making no plans. Still, I suppose that Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, who is the guardian of the icon, is pondering this. I can assure all of the faithful that as soon as the danger to public health of those who fill churches and gather in large crowds to venerate this amazing icon passes, we will renew the pilgrimages, both to Russia and other countries where our flock lives.
At the same time, I would like to point out that, this year, the Kursk Icon visited many parishes in the U.S. that it had never, or rarely, gone to before. For local parishioners, this was a great celebration. So, the icon is always visiting the faithful.
‒ Your Eminence, you have prayed before this icon for many years. What does it mean to you?
‒ I sense spiritual warmth and strengthening emanating from the icon. It is very beautiful, it has a special spirit, exceptional in holiness and imbued prayer. I think that the Russian people always treated such icons with trepidation and a sense of their own unworthiness. In my view, this sense grips all believers who approach the Kursk Icon.
‒ This icon’s history is connected with many events, many Russian saints prayed before it, entire generations of Russians. Can you share some exceptional instances that moved you personally?
‒ Several decades ago, when I worked in the printshop at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, we collected reports of contemporary miracles that happened through the Kursk Root Icon. I think that very few copies of this booklet still exist. It contains testimonials of people who, from prayers to the Kursk Icon, were miraculously healed or, for instance, saved from bombings in Yugoslavia or Germany during World War II.
There were situations when the icon was in someone’s house during bombardments, which would remain unharmed. Unfortunately, we have not published this lately. I think it is very important that when people receive help through the prayers of the Mother of God before the Kursk Icon, that they tell people about it.
‒ We live in difficult times. What is the main challenge facing the Russian Church Abroad, and how should we Orthodox Christians respond?
‒ I think that it is important to preserve young people and children in the Church. Many people who never received timely spiritual nourishment, who did not learn to pray and attend church, gradually move away from the Church. For this, a person must be taught from childhood, but many people are too busy with contemporary life and do not pay due attention to spiritually preserving their children and other family members in the Church. It is important to remain true to Orthodoxy, not to succumb to errant confessions and false influences. Of course, it is important to bear witness to Orthodox Christianity wherever we live. Many people are noticing that the Orthodox Faith preserves piety, they fall in love with it, and accept Orthodoxy.
‒ You touched upon a topic of concern for many, including me. How can I help my little children remain in the Church; what is needed for this?
‒ It is important to teach children to make the sign of the Cross at home, for the Cross sanctifies us, and it is good for children to understand this at an early age. It is important to pray out loud together with them, so that they learn the simplest prayers, would hear them, so that they come to love to read them. Study the Lord’s Prayer with them, perhaps, so that they read it together with their parents.
Besides that, there are illustrated books which can make Holy Scripture interesting for children. These little steps can help interest them in Orthodox Christianity, and when they grow up, the Faith, the Bible, and prayer will be commonplace for them, customary parts of life.
‒ You have contact with an enormous number of believers. What is their biggest problem now, what is their main concern? What do you advise them as a pastor and wise in the ways of life?
‒ Many face all sorts of troubles, illnesses, lack of means, or family problems. If we do not pray and turn to the Lord God, to the Most-Pure Virgin Mary and the holy saints of God for help, we feel alone and our soul is burdened. One must rely on God, fulfill the commandments, repent of one’s sins and pray. If there is prayer and repentance, the Lord will pour forth His grace.
Interviewed by Dmitry Zlodorev
Newly-glorified St. Nikiforos the Leper has assured sufferers and potential sufferers that he will intercede for all who ask his prayers to be protected and healed from the Coronavirus. Our Parish Warden, John Hume, is a maker of decorative tiles. He has now crafted a ceramic icon of St. Nikiforos, and intends to make a copy for each parish household. The icon tiles are available at the Rectory. You are welcome to retrieve yours. Please call: 301-572-5738.
Below are hymns for his invocation; scroll down for additional information and links.
Troparion to St. Nikiforos:
“All the angels were awestruck by the courage and fortitude of Saint Nikephoros the Leper, in ascetic deeds and contests, for like another Job he suffered pain, with patience, ever-glorifying God, who has crowned him now with glory, granting him grace to work great, wondrous miracles. Rejoice, O guide of monastics and their aid, Rejoice O shining beacon of light, Rejoice for thy relics now exude a fragrance bringing joy to all.”
Kontakion to St. Nikiforos:
“The valiant athlete of endurance and fortitude, the steadfast diamond of great patience and long-suffering, was tried by the affliction and pains of illness, and who in this way did glorify the Most High God, let us praise and laud the leper Nikephoros, saying unto him: Rejoice, true namesake of victory."
(SOC-EAD) - During this pandemic, as we collectively experience the global outbreak and exponential spread of the coronavirus, the Venerable Nikephoros the Leper appeared to someone in Greece and told him: “Tell the people not to be afraid of the virus. And, in the event that someone gets infected, tell them to pray to me and I will help them.”
Rendered at the hands of iconographer, Archimandrite Evsevije (Meandzija), a Serbian post-graduate student at the Theological Faculty of the University of Athens, this new icon for our times, represents the Theotokos and St. Nikephoros praying before the Crucified Lord to save humankind from the coronavirus.
Saint Nikiforos (1887-1964) is a saint for our time.
Born in Greece in 1887, he suffered from leprosy and was sent to live in a leper colony at age 13. He joined the monastery of Chios in 1916 at age 24. He bore his ailment and its disfiguring effects with patience, chanting in the church and praying ceaselessly. He was given the grace to prophesy and work miracles. When he fell asleep in the Lord on January 4, 1964, his relics emitted a fragrant scent. He was glorified as a saint in 2012.
O holy right-believing Alfred, Great King of Wessex and father of the English nation, hear our supplication.
Thou hast shown us an indelible example of courage and faith in the marshes of Athelney, when all England was suffering the depredation of the heathen Danes. Thou didst build up the defences of thy kingdom as thou didst also strive to increase the Christian Faith in thy kingly heart, showing an example of true wisdom to friend and enemy alike; enlightening thy people, showing mercy to thy vanquished foes, wisely preparing for war, but striving always for a holy peace.
Thou didst love learning and render into English many holy books, sending them out to all thy people, raising up their minds and hearts in the light of true knowledge.nThou didst renew the ancient laws of England, becoming a new Justinian, showing an example of the righteous judgement required by God of all who are in seats of power.
We, thy spiritual children in America, ask now thy strong intercession before the King of kings; help us in our time of trouble. Be like Elijah and grant us a double portion of thy spirit that thirsted after these virtues of courage, faith, steadfastness in the face of uncertainty and fear, the love of the Lord that brings holy wisdom, and righteous and merciful judgement in the fear of God.
O Alfred, wise king, do thou entreat Him to guide us steadily, as He guided thee, and to grant order, justice, peace and tranquillity to our native land.
In the name of the Father to Whom thou drawest nearer every day, the Son Whose Love thou didst teach to all, and the Holy Spirit Who fillest thy heart, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
A New Chalice for our Parish
A blessing from the Mother of God
For awhile now, our parish has been in need of a second chalice. At the beginning, we had two chalices, but we gave one away, when it was needed by a new mission. These days, we regularly have a long line of people who are waiting to receive the Holy Mysteries.
Over the past year or two, we have discussed this growing need, and different people have commented that, yes, it would be good for us to have a second chalice.
On December 1st, 2019, at our Sunday Divine Liturgy, we were visited by Bishop Nicholas and the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Theotokos. It was a grace-filled visitation. This was the first time that Vladika has served the Divine Liturgy at Holy Apostles, however he has visited many times with the holy Icon. Our parish family were able to receive the Holy Mysteries from our bishop, in the presence of the wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God. Glory to God, the Communion line was long.
After the Liturgy and agape meal, we took Bishop Nicholas and the holy Kursk Icon up to our church on the hill, that our future parish home might receive the dual blessings from the Theotokos and our bishop. We had a short prayer service to the Mother of God in front of the wonderworking Icon, and then Vladika gave us, and our little parish, gentle words of encouragement. He said that we should stay the course and continue taking little steps, to build our future parish home.
That very evening, I received a text from Father Deacon Nectarios, the guardian of the Holy Hawaiian Iveron Icon, which has been streaming fragrant myrrh since 2007. Fr. Nectarios asked me if our parish is in need of a chalice, as his parish is looking for a new home for one. He went on to say that their chalice is "over two decades old and has served our parish well. Your parish was the first one I thought of." I said that yes, we are in need of a second chalice.
I then told Father that we had a visitation this very day from the Mother of God, in her Kursk Icon. I asked him, "Maybe she told you we could use a second chalice?" He said, "I believe she did."
He described the chalice, saying it is "elaborate and made of brass, and still has another two decades of good use in it." He said that he would mail it to us right away. I told him how grateful we are. Father Nectarios said, "You have a beautiful community.... Let this chalice bless your community as it has blessed ours all these years."
O most holy Theotokos, save us!
- matushka Deborah, December 1, 2019
Report on the Building & Fundraising Efforts
By Maria Petrenko, Treasurer, Holy Apostles Orthodox Church
November 24, 2019
Much has happened since our last report.
The biggest happening is that we hired a civil engineering company, LandTech, to work with the architects. We obtained three proposals, of which LandTech’s was the most complete and cost-efficient. Kim and Debbie are very knowledgeable, experienced and easy to work with. Civil engineers are responsible for getting us through all the construction plans (environmental, water and sewer, site development, grading, etc.) and permitting process. At the end of this process, which according to Landtech’s timeline, by the end of the next year, we should be ready to start building.
We are staying well within the budget of around $50K, which we raised earlier this year and set aside specifically for this phase of the project. We also meet with the architectural and engineering teams weekly to keep all in the loop.
As Matushka Deborah has announced before, we are in contact with Shipley and Horn, a law firm which has agreed to help us with the permitting and legal processes as needed. And they are willing to donate their services. Mr. Shipley’s grandfather was one of the builders of St. Joseph’s chapel and is buried in the cemetery. This is one of the wonderful connections we are discovering around our property.
Fundraising: Since we officially launched the first stage of our campaign in the summer of 2018, our Building Fund has received as of now close to $100,000.00, 50,000.00 of which was designated for the Architect’s work. I have several pledge forms for the capital campaign and I see many of you donating additionally to your regular pledges. Thank you so much for this!! It’s a great start, and we continue to speed up from here.
In the fundraising committee, we have discussed several revenue streams. We are preparing for the special mailing campaign. One project of priority now is grant research. There is a very large database of donors and grants, to which the University of Maryland subscribes, as well as Edgewater library, as I discovered. In addition the library holds special classes and individual sessions to help with searching the database. I am in charge of that project, and would like help with searching and refining the search results. Let me know if you want to participate in that.
We are asking for donations for “Giving Tuesday.” If you want to help with running the FB fundraising campaign, let me know, and of course donate by whatever means are convenient for you.
Other projects in the works are researching the people connected to Ammendale normal institute, the St Joseph’s chapel, the cemetery. We want to know of people who are related in any way to our property and can be approached to support our restoration and building efforts.
We would like to get our project out in public, so there are podcasts we can be invited to, articles that can be written about us in various relevant publications. If you can connect us with relevant people or help with content, it is very welcome.
We are upgrading our mailing list. Now instead of Mat. Deborah typing in the emails, we will have the regular automated email list, to which you can subscribe, unsubscribe, etc. So be on the lookout for that announcement, and sign up to continue receiving our communications. We will announce it a few more times.
Our regular pledge form - this is how you become a member and to be able to perform functions in the church, be a part of the sisterhood, count money, participate in the annual meeting, you want to fill out the form. Your pledge does not need to be big, if this is what concerns you, but a form and a pledge signifies your intention to be a responsible and supportive part of the parish. I am to produce the first draft of the next year’s budget in 3 weeks in December, so I need the forms soon.
'Our Paradise in Beltsville'
– a new brochure for the building of our parish hall and beyond...
The occasion for the new brochure is twofold. The new brochure reflects the fact that, since we have raised the $50,000 necessary for the architect’s fees, we have moved on to the next phase of our capital campaign: the building of our parish hall. Secondly, a great number of these brochures accompanied Fr. George and Matushka to St. John’s for a special presentation recently. Please take a copy of the brochure and read it. Take extra copies to give to any interested friends. Spread the word! We want to build our church!
Two new posters - We have also created two new posters for the presentation at the Cathedral, and for our Capital Campaign in general. The large color poster will go with the watercolor poster of our future parish hall. This new poster has photos of the historic chapel and grounds. The smaller poster is the design for the interior of the parish hall. These three posters are featured on our kitchen wall.
A fundraising committee has been meeting every two weeks. In addition to having produced the brochure and posters, we are planning to produce a booklet of about 20 pages or so, which will detail the history of our parish and especially since we received the gift of the chapel. We want to bring everyone on board, as we have a lot of new parishioners who were not there in 2009, when we were given the chapel, and before that, when we were searching for our parish home.
Andrew Gould’s Vision -
See and be inspired by his beautiful water color of the parish hall, along with the concept drawings from this God-sent and God-gifted man. See, too, his impromptu presentation at our trapeza. It stimulated one present to say, ”We gotta get this guy!”
Holy Apostles Youtube Channel and Videos! - See online the results of the labors of Herman Muller in consultation with Matushka Deborah in creating the parish youtube channel. The channel banner is from the 6th century mosaic icon over the altar of the church of St. Apollinaris in Classe in Ravenna, Italy. The contents consist of all our videos over the years, leading off with the complete video of June 10th’s fund raising event.
Pray for: Our Traveler Abraham Alexander.
The Holy Fire is with us from this year’s Holy Land Pascal celebration, conveyed to Metropolitan Hilarion in New York, conveyed by him to St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedra; in Howell, NJ, and conveyed to us from there by a friend of the parish. Please avail yourselves of it, and join those who keep the fire burning all the time. To do this well, you need two oil lamps like those at church that you relight twice daily, one from the other.
Make an Annual Pledge to help us with steady financial help and fulfill our responsibility to God and each other. The ideal foundation for giving is a tithe, or 10%. Those who do this testify of God’s blessings. Please complete a pledge form and return it to the donation box.
Service and Support Opportunities:
- Sign up to make a meal for all after Sunday Divine Liturgy, together with cleanup. We need food for up to 60. Add your name to the signup sheet.
- Holy Apostles Chariots – See Thomas Hurlock if you need a ride.
- Holy Apostles Choir – Required rehearsals are from 7 to 9 PM on Thursdays.
- The St. Juliana of Lazarevo Sisterhood sees to various needs of the parish, including church decoration and prosphora baking. See Elena Swensen.
- Nick’s Place is a halfway house for young men recovering from substance abuse. We deliver non-perishable goods. Please donate.
- A Commemorative Tile made by John Hume is a likeness of our chapel with our name and the verse, “I was glad when they said unto me: Let us go into the house of the Lord.” This beautiful perpetual reminder of mutual prayer can be had for $45.
- We accept credit cards! We have a card reader that works with smart phones, so, get with the treasurer (or designee), to make donations and purchases.
- We have an on-line mall service from the eScrip program. The eScrip page of our web site has a link and instructions for use. For items bought through eScrip, merchants donate small referral bonuses to our building fund. Please use this method for your on-line shopping. See our treasurer, Mariya Petrenko for more information.
- Please sign our Guest Book! - When you visit for the first time please record your coming in the little book by the door, including name and contact information such as address, telephone and email. If you wish to be on our distribution list, please let us know.
PALM SUNDAY BUILDING FUND MATCH!
GOAL: Raise $20,000
DEADLINE: April 25, 2021
Two anonymous contributors have gone in together to offer a $10,000 Building Fund match. All contributions to the Building Fund from now till Palm Sunday, up to $10,000, will be doubled.
Help us quickly raise an additional $20,000 towards the building of our beautiful parish hall!