May 31, 2012
Strength in Unity: Memorial Day at St. Tikhon’s Monastery

Beginning in 1905, on American Memorial Day, Orthodox Christians began gathering in the oldest Orthodox monastery in America, St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery in South Canaan, PA, for an annual pilgrimage and to commemorate reposed friends and relatives (especially war veterans).

On Sunday, May 27, with the blessing of the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, the primate of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude Jonah, Metropolitan of All America & Canada, celebrated the Divine Liturgy in St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Mayfield, PA. This historic parish, founded in 1888, is the oldest in the Eastern America Diocese. The parish’s history is tightly interwoven with that of St. Tikhon’s Monastery, located 11 miles from Mayfield.

That same day, the Orthodox tradition of performing a procession from Mayfield to the monastery was revived. Orthodox people from Eastern Pennsylvania performed this procession annually on this day since 1905. The tradition halted for many years, owing to a breach in canonical communion between ROCOR and the Orthodox Church in America. As a result of the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion on May 17, 2007, relationships with the OCA have normalized, and greater numbers of pilgrims from the Church Abroad have begun to visit the monastery. Processions of a similar nature (although much shorter) were held in previous years, but this year the faithful will once again follow the original, century-old path.

On the final day of the pilgrimage, the Divine Liturgy, celebrated by Metropolitan Jonah, concelebrated by OCA hierarchs: Archbishop Tikhon of Philadelphia, Bishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh, Bishop Michael of New York, and Bishop Matthias of Chicago, as well as a multitude of clergy from many jurisdictions, was adorned by a combined choir of singers from St. Tikhon’s Seminary, Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, New York, and the Eastern American Diocesan Youth Choir. One major highlight of the pilgrimage was the visitation of the Myrrh-Streaming Hawaiian Iveron Icon of the Mother of God. Hundreds of the faithful came and poured out their hearts before this wonderworking image, which abundantly streamed myrrh over the course of the Liturgy.

Upon completion of the Liturgy, the secretary of the Eastern American Diocese of ROCOR, Archpriest Serge Lukianov, read aloud a greeting from the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern American and New York:

Your Beatitude, Your Eminence, Your Graces, dear in the Lord Reverend Fathers, brothers, and sisters!

From across the world, I greet you and congratulate you on behalf of all of the faithful children of the Russian Church Abroad with the 108th Memorial Day Pilgrimage. I thank you for inviting me to join you, and it is with sadness that I am unable to be with you at this joyous occasion, which for so many years has been an opportunity for Orthodox Christians throughout our land to unite in worship.

This year is especially momentous. As the Russian Church Abroad celebrates the fifth anniversary of her Reunification with the Moscow Patriarchate, we have an opportunity to more fully appreciate the grace we have been given, as believers of both of our jurisdictions approach One Chalice. With the addition of the Holy Trinity Seminary Choir and the Eastern American Diocesan Youth Choir to St. Tikhon’s own Seminary Choir, we sow the seeds for collaboration between our youth, who will know little of the divisions that kept the older generations apart. Let us build upon this strong foundation. God willing, just as the faithful of the Russian Church Abroad are now returning to the traditional Memorial Day Pilgrimage at St. Tikhon’s Monastery, so the faithful of the Orthodox Church in America will come once more to the Labor Day Pilgrimage in Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York.

I likewise congratulate the seminary class of 2012, and wish all of you Godspeed and a fortified faith as you go forward to continue your service to Christ’s Holy Church. Never, ever forget, that our strength is in our unity. Let us never allow ourselves to repeat the mistakes of the past, abiding instead in brotherly love, thereby bearing witness to our Christian faith, spreading the word of God to our beloved American land.

With love in our Ascended Lord,

Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York
First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad

Photographs from Sunday, May 27 - Mayfield

Photographs from Monday, May 28 - St. Tikhon's Monastery


Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese