In 2017, St. Vladimir Church in Miami, FL celebrated its 70th anniversary. The festal divine services were held on November 11-12. The evening prior, on Friday, December 10, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas arrived in Miami with the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God to lead the celebrations. His Grace was greeted at the airport by parish clergy and the faithful, who were able to venerate the wonderworking icon right in the airport. Upon its arrival at the church, a moleben and akathist were served before the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora.
On Saturday, November 11, Bishop Nicholas led the All-Night Vigil, co-served by parish rector Archpriest Daniel McKenzie, Archpriest Peter Jackson (rector of Apostolic Mission of Christ Church in Miami), Priest Michael Criscella (cleric of St. Gregory Church MP in Tampa, FL), and Priest Mykhailo Mykhailenko and Deacon Dimitry Doohovskoy (parish clerics).
On Sunday, Bishop Nicholas celebrated Divine Liturgy. Concelebrating with His Grace were Fr. Daniel, Fr. Mykhailo, and Fr. Dimitry. The divine services were held under the aegis of the Kursk Root Icon.
At the Hours, Bishop Nicholas tonsured Juan Crisostomo (Fernando) Soto a reader.
A multitude of parishioners prayed at the divine services, joined by worshippers from other parishes in Miami and nearby cities. The faithful communed from two chalices.
Upon completion of Liturgy, Bishop Nicholas addressed those gathered with a sermon on the Gospel reading regarding the Gadarene demoniac healed by Christ the Savior. "Having healed this man, the Lord expelled the evil spirits into a herd of swine, which then plunged into the sea. Thus, attempting to admonish the people, the Lord deprived them of these impure animals, which – according to the Law of Moses – they were forbidden to keep and cultivate. But rather, the people began to drive the Lord away. By this example, the Gospel teaches us to obey the teachings of Christ, and not stand in opposition to God."
His Grace called on the faithful to obey God’s words, attending church more frequently and receiving Christ’s Holy Mysteries. On behalf of Metropolitan Hilarion and himself personally, he congratulated the clergy and parishioners on the 70th anniversary of their parish’s founding, and wished the community continued growth and spiritual fortitude.
The clergy and faithful then held a procession with the wonderworking image and other venerated parish icons around the church.
A Hierarchal gramota was presented to Fr. Daniel, Matushka Sophia, the parish council, and parishioners in connection with the church’s anniversary and for their sacrificial labors on behalf of the parish and for the glory of Christ’s Holy Church. Gramotas were also presented to Olga Serpiko, Olga Maximova, and Valery and Julia Shestopalow.
A festal luncheon was served in the parish hall for clergy, parishioners, and guests. Fr. Mykhailo spoke about the church’s history, noting that the first attempt to build a Russian Church in Miami was made in 1936, but did not succeed. "Russian refugees from the time of the October Revolution and post-war years renewed their attempts to build an Orthodox Church after the Second World War. At that time, Eastern America was under the spiritual authority of Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko). Thanks to his efforts, our parish was established. In 1947, regular divine services began to be held in a large tent on a piece of land donated to the church and situated in an uninhabited section of western Miami. Very soon, the temporary tent was replaced by a small church, which was later completed and expanded. A troupe of dwarfs, or little people, who had moved to Miami at the start of the Second World War, holds a special place in the history of the parish. Ivan and Pelagia Velikanov and Vasily and Maria Filin, after many years of serving in the altar and on the kliros, donated their property to the parish in order to financially support the church and the priest’s family."
Fr. Mykhailo noted that one of the parish’s characteristic traits is its remarkable silence. "In contrast to the chaos and busyness of modern life, here a person can stop and bring some order to his thoughts and feelings."
In the 10 years’ time since the reunification, the number of parishioners has grown. This year, thanks to the efforts of the parish, the book "Law of God" was translated into Spanish and published, albeit in a limited run. Special attention in the parish is paid to its children. "Through our Saturday Russian School, we try to acquaint them with the spiritual traditions of Orthodoxy, revealing for them the beauty of the church, of the divine services," said Fr. Mykhailo. "Working with the children, we have also begun to attract their parents to the education process. As one school principal noted, ‘Give me well-mannered and educated parents, and I will give you well-mannered and educated children.’"
Many kind words and well-wishes were addressed to the parish clergy. After lunch, the Russian School students put on a play and performed a concert, which they had prepared with their teachers and parents: the children sang, danced, and read the works of Russian poets and writers.
Upon completion of the concert, parishioners did not disperse for a long time, their interaction with the archpastor and one another continuing for yet another hour.