On Bright Monday, April 9, Paschal celebrations were held in the administrative center of the Eastern American Diocese. Before the start of Divine Liturgy, the Holy Fire was brought to St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ, which had arrived in New York the day before from Jerusalem.
In keeping with tradition, on the second day of Pascha, the myrrh-streaming icon of the Mother of God "Softener of Evil Hearts" – now concluding its travels to parishes and monastery of the Eastern American Diocese from Moscow – was brought from Jordanville to St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Afterward, the clergy and faithful greeted their ruling bishop – Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad. Greeting His Eminence, diocesan secretary Archpriest Serge Lukianov wished Metropolitan Hilarion unfailing Paschal joy and asked for his prayers for the clergy and faithful of the Diocese.
Metropolitan Hilarion was co-served at Liturgy by Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, cathedral clerics: dean Archpriest Serge Lukianov, Archpriests Rafael Melendez, Boris Slootsky, Seraphim Chemodakov, and Petro Hnatkivskyy, and Protodeacons Leonid Roschko and Paul Drozdowski, as well as Archpriests Vasily Andrejuk (rector of St. Cyril of Turov Belorussian Church in Richmond Hill, NY) and Leonid Goferman (rector of Holy Protection Church in New Brunswick, NJ), Priest Serge Ledkovsky (deputy rector of St. Vladimir Memorial Church in Jackson, NJ), and Hieromonk Tikhon (Gayfudinov; abbot of Holy Protection Skete in Buena, NJ). Praying in church was Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov, dean of New Jersey and pastor emeritus of the cathedral.
At the Little Entrance, for this labors to the Holy Church, His Eminence awarded Fr. Leonid Roschko the right to wear the kamilavka.
During the bright days of Pascha, many parishioners communed of the Body and Blood of Christ. Holy Communion was distributed from four chalices.
Congratulating the clergy and parishioners with the Feast of feasts, His Eminence expressed his gratitude to all for their shared prayers, and with particular joy noted that Fr. Valery Lukianov was able to pray with everyone in the church, as well as so many children, who consider the days of Pascha especially joyous and bright. Metropolitan Hilarion expressed his wishes of health, strength, sincere prayer, and a spiritual life for all. The First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad also congratulated Fr. Leonid with his award for his dedicated service to the cathedral.
Commemorating the twentieth anniversary of his ordination to the diaconate and priesthood, as well as their selfless service to the Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Hilarion awarded a diocesan gramota to Archpriest Rafael and Matushka Cecilia Melendez.
Fr. Serge Lukianov thanked Sergei Fomin, guardian of the icon "Softener of Evil Hearts," for the joy of being able to pray under the aegis of the myrrh-streaming icon, and wished him the strength to travel across the whole world and bring joy to the people. At the end of the service, all were anointed with holy myrrh from the icon.
Metropolitan Hilarion and Bishop Nicholas led a procession with the wonderworking icon of the Mother of God and other holy cons around the cathedral. In keeping with tradition on the second day of Pascha, students of the parish Russian School took part in the procession and, alongside the adults, walked with icons.
Afterward, a children’s egg hunt was organized. While the children played, adults and youngsters alike were able to interact with Metropolitan Hilarion.
The sisterhood of the cathedral organized a festal meal in the parish hall for the clergy and faithful. During the meal, the students of the parish school performed a small concert. Metropolitan Hilarion presented all of them with chocolates.