On Monday, July 18, the feast day of the Holy Venerable New Martyr Elizbeth, Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan paid an archpastoral visit to the eponymous church in Rocky Hill, NJ, where he celebrated Divine Liturgy on the occasion of the parish’s patronal feast.
The parish was founded in 1998 in Somerville, NJ, and at first the divine services were held in the home of the priest ‒ Archpriest David Straut ‒ and then later in a chapel in the home of one of the mission’s founders. In 2004, the growing parish acquired a former Catholic chapel not far from Princeton, built at the turn of the last century. Four years later, the church underwent significant renovations: the altar was expanded, an Orthodox iconostasis was installed, the choir loft was improved, the floor was lacquered, a new ceiling was installed, and new lights and air conditioning were installed. Beautiful hand-painted icons were installed in the iconostasis. Parishioners wonderfully adorned the church with flowers and floral arrangements for the feast day.
Concelebrating with His Grace at Liturgy were: the rector, Fr. David, Protodeacons Paul Drozdowski (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Howell, NJ) and Seraphim Komleski (parish cleric), and Deacon Stephanos Bibas (cleric of Joy of All Who Sorrow Church in Philadelphia, PA). Praying during the divine services was Priest Anthony Williams (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral). The parish choir sang prayerfully.
During the reading of the Hours, Bishop Nicholas tonsured Timothy Zelinski ‒ a student of Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY ‒ a reader, and later, at Liturgy, ordained Subdeacon Michael Fiocca to the diaconate.
The church was filled to capacity. Parishioners as well as guests from neighboring churches came to honor the memory of the Venerable New Martyr Elizabeth. Virtually all of the worshippers communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries. A short moleben was served before the icon of the saint.
Bishop Nicholas greeted everyone with the feast, and addressed the gathered faithful with a sermon, in which he spoke about the life and martyric death of St. Elizabeth, noting her principal Christian traits ‒ faith, love, and longsuffering ‒ and called on the faithful to follow her example. He also spoke about his recent trip to the Holy Land, where ‒ in Gethsemane ‒ there is a convent of the Russian Church Abroad where the relics of the venerable saint repose. His Grace blessed the faithful with icons from the Holy Land as they approached the cross.
The feast concluded with a large luncheon in the pavilion built behind the church. It is here that the parish organized luncheons and coffee hours during seasonable weather on Sundays and other feast days. While the adults interacted, the children ‒ taking advantage of the sunny weather ‒ played on the well-maintained church grounds.
Rocky Hill, NJ: Bishop Nicholas officiates Patronal Feast of St. Elizabeth the New-Martyr Church, performs Diaconal Ordination - 07/18/22
Photos: Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese - T. Veselkina