This year, the patronal feast day celebrations at St. John of Kronstadt Memorial Church in Utica, NY were particularly eventful, and included two separate hierarchal visits. On the very day of the feast, October 31-November 1, Archbishop Peter of Chicago & the Midwest led the divine services, while services over the following weekend were led by Bishop Jerome.
On Wednesday evening, October 31, parish rector Archpriest Michael Taratuchin led the All-Night Vigil, co-served by Priest Nikolai Meyers (rector of St. George Antiochian Church in New Hartford, NY), Priest Ephraim Willmarth (cleric of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY), parish Protodeacon Joseph Jarostchuk, and Deacon Michael Pavuk (cleric of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Mayfield, PA).
The next day, hierarchical Divine Liturgy was celebrated by His Eminence, Archbishop Peter, concelebrating with whom were the above-mentioned clergy, as well as Priest Daniel Franzen (cleric of the Mid-American Diocese) and parish Protodeacon Nikifor Franklin. Many people were in attendance, despite it being a weekday, and a festal luncheon was held in the parish hall in an atmosphere of joy. Archbishop Peter shared some reflections on the village of Sura (Arkhangelsk, Russia) which he, Fr. Michael, and parish treasurer Tamara DeBernardis had visited in June 2015 during the 25th anniversary celebration of the glorification of St. John of Kronstadt in Russia. His Eminence spoke of the beauty of the white nights and the impressions he had of the Russian north.
That evening, the St. John of Kronstadt Memorial Fund held a meeting, chaired at the home of board member and parishioner Svetlana Derevenets. Joining the Memorial Fund administration were Frs. Nikolai Meyers and Nikifor Franklin, the latter of whom was elected to be the new secretary for the fund, replacing Eastern American Diocesan Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, who stepped down as secretary, but will remain as a board member of the Fund. The administration of the Fund expressed their gratitude for His Grace’s years of service to the Fund.
The following weekend, services for the ongoing parish celebration began with the All-Night Vigil on Saturday evening. Bishop Jerome arrived and was met by Frs. Michael, Joseph, Nikifor. Although there was a large pilgrimage at Holy Trinity Monastery nearby, with busloads of visitors from Washington, DC, Hartford, CT and Brooklyn, NY and the Metropolitan, whose namesday it was, led the services there, there was nevertheless a good turnout at the Utica parish for its own parish celebrations.
On Sunday morning, His Grace celebrated Divine Liturgy, co-served by Fr. Michael, Hieromonk Anatoly (Zilin; cleric of Holy Trinity Monastery), and Fr. Ephraim, as well as the parish deacons. The litanies at Liturgy, as well as the Epistle and Gospel readings, were alternated in Slavonic and English. Bishop Jerome preached in Russian on the text, "Good works, which God hath assigned that we might walk in them" (Ephesians 2:4-10) and in English on the text, "The First Testament had rules of divine service" (Philippians 2:5-11) – rules, which although God does not "need" them, we in our human state do have need of.
Liturgy was followed by a moleben in honor of the Kazan Icon of the Theotokos and of the Righteous John of Kronstadt. Concelebrating clergy were joined by Priest Thaddeus Franta (rector of Sts. Peter & Paul OCA Church in Herkimer, NY).
Since this day was the namesday of Archbishop Averky (Taushev; +1976) of blessed memory, "Memory Eternal" was sung for him.
Father Michael addressed the bishop, clergy, and faithful with warm greetings, and urged all to join in the fellowship meal following the services, in the former Lebanese bakery building, which has now become part of the parish complex.
Visitors from other New York parishes included a contingent from the New Kursk Root Hermitage in Mahopac, as well as Entrance into the Temple of the Virgin in Syracuse, Nativity of the Mother of God in Albany, and elsewhere in the area.
An exquisite luncheon was prepared by the parish sisterhood, which had been hard at work in the church kitchen since at least 8 o’clock that morning, and managed to outdo themselves over the feast they had served up on this day the previous year. The menu began with a green salad, then "Salad Olivier", two kinds of devilled eggs, pasta, cutlets, sausage, chicken drumsticks, several fish and seafood dishes, various vegetable dishes, and at least six kinds of rich, homemade cakes, as well as "plombir" sweets. Several kinds of wine were served, as well as various liquors and liqueurs, and fresh-brewed coffee and tea.
At the luncheon, Fr. Joseph spoke on his own memories and times in the Utica parish, where he has served so often, and then a raffle was held for the benefit of the church. The faithful continued their interaction with the clergy and one another late into the afternoon.