The days following the radiant feasts of Christ’s Nativity, the New Year, and the Theophany of the Lord marked a significant event in the life of St. Alexander Nevsky Parish in Howell, NJ. On February 9, Matushka Irina Lukianov – wife of the cathedral’s builder and longtime rector Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov (+2018) and mother of its current rector Archpriest Serge Lukianov – will celebrate her 90th birthday.
Prior to the All-Night Vigil on Saturday, January 27, the myrrh-streaming Iveron-Hawaiian Icon of the Mother of God was brought to the church. Metropolitan Nicholas of Eastern America & New York officiated Vigil on Saturday evening and celebrated Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning, January 28. Serving alongside the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad were: cathedral rector Archpriest Serge Lukianov, Archpriest Zoran Radovic (rector of St. George Serbian Church in Elizabeth, NJ), and cathedral clerics: Archpriests Luka Novakovic and Rafael Melendez, Protodeacon Paul Drozdowski, and Deacons Alexandre Sarandinaki and Dimitry Lisan.
Prior to the start of Liturgy on Sunday, after the greeting of the myrrh-streaming icon, the cathedral clergy greeted the Metropolitan, and Fr. Serge addressed the First Hierarch with a word of welcome.
At Liturgy, in addition to the above-mentioned clergy, concelebrating with His Eminence were: Archpriests Vasily Andrejuk and Boris Slootsky (cathedral clerics), Boris Oparin (rector of St. Joasaph of Belgorod Church in Brooklyn, NY), and Serge Ledkovsky (deputy rector of St. Vladimir Memorial Church in Jackson, NJ), Priest Anthony Williams (cathedral cleric), Protodeacon Leonid Roschko (cleric of St. Vladimir Memorial Church), and Deacon Seraphim Andov (cleric of Holy Theotokos of Iveron Church in Honolulu, HI).
Singing at Vigil was the male choir under the direction of Alexandra Lukianov, while Liturgy was sung by the parish choir under the direction of Andrei Roudenko.
A multitude of faithful from nearby states came to pray at the divine services venerate the Hawaiian Icon, most of whom communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
Upon completion of the services, Metropolitan Nicholas addressed the faithful with a sermon on the Gospel reading about the rich young man, who wished to inherit eternal life. His Eminence called on the faithful to act as Orthodox Christians should – with humility, obedience, and understanding, to have a good heart, to honor ones’ parents, to thank God for what we have, and to share these things with our neighbors. And then our faith and our compassion will radiant outward to those around us.
Fr. Serge presented Fr. Seraphim Andov with an icon of Venerable Herman of Alaska with a piece of the saint’s relics, for the church in Hawaii.
Metropolitan Nicholas then greeted Matushka Irina Lukianov and, for her many years of labors on behalf of the Holy Church and in connection with her 90th birthday and 55 years of labors in the parish, awarded her the Synodal Order of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, 3rd Class.
For her many years of service in the fields of charity and spiritual enlightenment and participation in the reestablishment of unity in the Russian Orthodox Church, and in commemoration of the 90th anniversary of her birth, the Head of the Russian Imperial House Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna appointed Irina Petrovna Lukianov to the honor of damehood in the Imperial Order of Saint Anastasia the Holy Great Martyr, Alleviatrix of Captives.
The clergy and parishioners sincerely congratulated Matushka Irina and wished her good health and God’s aid in her labors.
A reception was organized in the cathedral hall, attended by many parishioners and guests, totaling 230. A Jubilee choir was specially gathered for the event, under the direction of Andrei Roudenko. The choir performed a concert of Russian songs.
At the banquet, Matushka Anna Lukianov read a proclamation from the Governing Body of Howell Township recognizing Matushka Irene’s 55 years of service to the parish and Russian community on the occasion of her upcoming 90th birthday. This proclamation was requested on behalf of Matushka’s late son, Protodeacon Nicholas Lukianov, who had procured a similar proclamation for Fr. Valery Lukianov of blessed memory.
On behalf of everyone in attendance, a cake and gift were presented to Matushka Irina.
Matushka Irina Lukianov
Irina Motcharsky was born on February 9, 1934 to Russian parents the Archpriest Peter and Matushka Raisa Motcharsky, in a small village named Tupaly, at that time located in Poland.
She was the middle child, growing up with an older sister Tamara and younger brother Nicholas, who unfortunately passed away before the family was able to relocate to the United States.
In 1943, during the invasion of the Bolsheviks into the Volhynia Oblast, the communists were persecuting the clergy, and the family was forced to flee their home. They escaped to Lublin and then Warsaw.
The family was transported to Passau in Germany, where they lived in Displaced Persons (DP) camps for several years, meeting other families fleeing the persecution of the communists. In 1947, the family moved to another Displaced Persons camp in Regensburg, eventually receiving sponsorship to come to the United States.
Irina arrived in New York City on August 29, 1950 and entered the United States through Ellis Island with her parents, Grandmother and sister Tamara. As a family, they would go on to live in the downtown area of New York City.
Starting her new life, Irina attended public school in New York City and eventually surrounded herself with other Russian friends starting the same life away from their homeland. Eventually, Irina met her future husband, Valery Lukianov.
In June 1954, Irina was married and eventually had five sons: Alexis, Serge, Nicholas, John, and Alexander. Her husband was ordained a priest on January 15, 1967.
Fr. Valery Lukianov and Matushka Irina were assigned to the St. Alexander Nevsky Church in 1968. The following years were dedicated to their parish life in Howell. Matushka raised her family and became very involved in the church and the community. She was active in the sisterhood baking prosphora, crosses, and lark buns. She cooked lunches with the sisterhood for the various parish feast days and for the visiting bishops and clergy that would stay at their home. Matushka taught for many years on Saturdays in the parish Russian School. She sang in the choir at all of the services. She and the sisterhood would raise much-needed funds for children and anyone that was in need with clothing drives, bake sales, and gift auctions. Matushka was instrumental in helping in The Gift of Life Program, collaborated through Deborah Hospital and children from Russia who would come to Deborah and receive cardiac care that they could not receive in their country. After the surgeries, the children needed a place to recover, and Matushka Irina helped find parishioners willing to take in a mother and her child.
Being a matushka in the parish for over 55 years she, along with Fr. Valery, raised their five sons in Howell. Each son married and had children, comprising 16 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, as well as nieces and nephews and extended family, most of whom were present at the divine services and proudly celebrated Matushka’s 90th birthday.
Howell, NJ: Metropolitan Nicholas pays Archpastoral Visit to St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral - 01/28/24
Photos: Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese - T. Veselkina, G. Rimakis