Since the time of Archbishop Averky (Taushev; +1976), there has been a tradition for a ruling or vicar bishop of the Eastern American Diocese to visit Protection of the Mother of God Church in Rochester, NY every years on the second Sunday of Great Lent. This tradition was continued, first by Metropolitan Laurus (+2008), and currently by His Grace Nicholas, Bishop of Manhattan.
The diocesan vicar arrived in Rochester on Saturday evening, March 3. The following morning, the Sunday of St. Gregory Palamas, His Grace celebrated Divine Liturgy, co-served by parish rector Archpriest Gregory Naumenko, Abbot Theophyact (Clapper-DeWell; cleric of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY), and Protodeacon Andrej Strapko and Deacon Nikifor Franklin (parish clerics). Assisting with the service were many acolytes, most of whom have grown up in the parish and are being trained to serve in the holy altar.
At the Little Entrance, with the blessing of His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, Fr. Nikifor was elevated to the rank of protodeacon.
Two choirs sang at the Divine Liturgy in Slavonic and English: the regular parish choir and the newly formed youth choir. Bishop Nicholas delivered an inspiring sermon in Russian and English.
After Liturgy, everyone joined His Grace in the parish hall for a satisfying Lenten meal prepared by the sisterhood.