On Saturday, May 13, the eve of the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, the chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, visited St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, DC. At 5 o’clock in the evening, to the peal of bells, the honored guest was greeted with bread and salt by the cathedral’s warden, D.M. Zaretsky, and all of the parish clergy. After the greeting, His Eminence proceeded to the altar, where he gave his blessing at the start of the All-Night Vigil.
At the Polyeleos, Metropolitan Hilarion was joined by Metropolitan Jonah (former primate of the Orthodox Church in America), Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk (Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA), cathedral clergy led by rector Archpriest Victor Potapov, and clerics accompanying His Eminence.
After Vigil, Metropolitan Hilarion addressed worshippers with a word of greeting, in which he expressed joy at his first meeting with ROCOR’s clergy and parishioners on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the reestablishment of Eucharistic communion between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Addressing Fr. Victor personally, the Metropolitan recalled how, as a 13-year-old schoolboy in the Soviet era, he would listen through the radio jamming to Fr. Victor’s religious broadcasts on "Voice of America."
After the service and greetings, a multitude of the faithful and fans of the multifaceted and talented hierarch approached him for a blessing, and to express their gratitude for his edifying work in confirming Orthodoxy in the hearts of many.
In the new St. George Parish Center, the sisterhood organized a bountiful "Russian Table" dinner, during which everyone enjoyed informal brotherly interaction. The rector presented Metropolitan Hilarion with a large icon of the holy founder of the Washington parish, the Holy Hierarch John, Wonderworker of Shanghai & San Francisco, and a compendium of poems by the parish poet Andrey Gidaspov. In turn, Metropolitan Hilarion presented Fr. Victor with a copy of his new book "Catechism," and two CDs of his renowned musical compositions, "St. Matthew Passion" and the "Christmas Oratorio."
The meeting with Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk will long remain in the minds of the clergy and parishioners of St. John the Baptist Cathedral.