On March 12, the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent – the Sunday of the Holy Hierarch Gregory Palamas – the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, paid an archpastoral visit to St. Panteleimon Church in Hartford, CT, where he celebrated the Divine Liturgy.
At Liturgy, His Eminence was concelebrated by parish rector Archpriest Dionisy Nalitov, Protodeacon Serge Arlievsky (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY), Protodeacon Dionysius Lvov (cleric of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City), and Deacon Nathan Williams (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Memorial Church in Richmond, ME).
Prior to the start of Liturgy, parish Reader John Nalitov was awarded the right to wear the orarion. After the Eucharistic Canon, Metropolitan Hilarion ordained Subdeacon Eugene Utnyukhin to the diaconate. The newly ordained Deacon Eugene will fulfill his service at St. Panteleimon Church.
Many parishioners and faithful from nearby churches came to the service and communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries. Upon completion of the Liturgy, Metropolitan Hilarion addressed the faithful with a sermon, in which he said, in part:
"Today in the Gospel we heard of a very touching moment, when a paralyzed man was brought by his friends on a stretcher and, as there were many people surrounding Christ in that house and they could not enter, they went up onto the roof. Opening the roof, they lowered the paralytic down to the Savior. Healing the man, He told him: ‘Your sins are forgiven you; get up and walk.’ And he arose and went. While the story is a simple one, it has great significance in our Faith: it shows that there is a connection between sickness and sin, and more often than not we fall ill because we sin, and allow this sickness to nestle within us. And in order to be healed, we must repent, confess our sins, and attempt to free ourselves from that which interferes with our spiritual life. And if we will begin to pray and to fast – as it says in the Gospel – then this prayer and fasting will help us. Of course, we must make use of the aid of physicians, as well, but the majority of our ailments are defeated by temperance and humility.
"The second thing we see in this Gospel reading is that the man was helped by his friends; and it is written in Scripture that the Lord, seeing their faith, seeing their care for this man, healed him. This once more underscores for us and reminds us that we must care for one another, that me must pray for our neighbors. Sincere prayer for others is very powerful; in it is expressed our faith in God and our love for others, especially for those who suffer. Thus, we ought to take fervent part in prayer – both by ourselves and together in church – that the Lord might help the other person. In this way, we support one another, we grow closer to one another and to the Lord."
After the service, His Eminence congratulated the new Deacon Eugene, and a bountiful luncheon was then held in the parish hall for the hierarch, clergy, parishioners, and guests.