Every family has its special and joyous dates and holidays. The main holidays of the parish family of St Seraphim Memorial Church in Sea Cliff, NY, are its patronal feasts. These are days when the Holy Church specially honors the memory of Venerable Seraphim, Wonderworker of Sarov: January 15, the day of his repose (1833), and August 1, the day of his glorification and the finding of his holy relics (1903). St Seraphim Memorial Church also specially honors May 17 and the feast of the Ascension of the Lord – the day of the Restoration of full brotherly communion within the one Russian Orthodox Church. In addition, the parishioners and worshippers of St Seraphim Church also triumphantly celebrate the memory of the Holy Great-Martyr Panteleimon, Heavenly patron of a chapel in Kittatinny, NJ, attached to the parish.
On Saturday, August 1, the Feast of St Seraphim, the main feast day of our church in Sea Cliff took place. Despite the fact that the next stage of quarantine relaxation was recently introduced, allowing the celebration of divine services while maintaining social distancing and other regulations, the fullness of the church should not have exceeded 33% of the capacity of our premises, so some worshipers had to stand on the porch, in the courtyard or the refectory while watching the service on the screen. The festive service celebrated by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Outside of Russia, co-served by His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, rector, parish clergy and guests, was distinguished by extraordinary splendor. A solemn and joyful atmosphere, as well as the jubilant singing of the parish choir under the direction of NM Miro, united all the participants of the holiday. Their faces radiated joy and peace. In the middle of the church were the parish’s pre-revolutionary icon of St Seraphim with a particle of his holy relics and the personal shrine of the First-Hierarch-a wooden reliquary with pieces from the epitrachil, gloves and other items belonging to the celebrated saint.
Vladyka Hilarion dedicated his sermon to the conversation of St Seraphim about the main goal of the Christian life-the acquisition of the grace-filled gifts of the Holy Spirit. In conclusion, His Eminence congratulated those present on the patronal holiday, and the rector of the church, Archpriest Serafim Gan, Chancellor of the Synod of Bishops, on his namesday.
The celebration ended with a traditional and bountifully prepared luncheon, offered in the refectory and the church courtyard by the Sisterhood of the parish, headed by EM Mikheeva, in compliance with sanitary standards and other regulations of the local authorities. At the festive reception, a film was shown dedicated to the 15th anniversary of Protodeacon Eugene Kallaur’s service time the Church, with video greetings from archpastors, clergy, his friends and acquaintances from Russia, Australia, Western Europe and various cities of the US. Then, gifts were presented to Father Eugene, his wife Ekaterina Ilyinichna and guests of the feast. The aforementioned film will be available on social media in the near future.
The meal took place in an atmosphere of joy, spiritual unity and solidarity. In his speech at the reception, Bishop Nicholas especially congratulated the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad on the day of remembrance of this great saint of the Russian Church, those celebrating their name day, and the parishioners and pilgrims on the feast day, expressing to all his deep gratitude for their joint prayers. In his deeply heartfelt speech, Protodeacon Pavel Wolkow congratulated the rector of the church on the day of his namesake, presenting the latter with a gift from the parishioners. Archpriest Andrei Sommer, Deputy Chairman of the Synodal Department for Youth Affairs, and Archpriest Alexander Anchoutine, Dean of the local and Florida deaneries of the Eastern American Diocese, delivered warm greetings. At the end of the meal, the rector of the church, expressing gratitude to the archpastors, the entire gathering of clergy, subdeacons, acolytes, the choir, the Sisterhood and participants in the celebration, wished everyone a peaceful spirit, mutual respect, patience for each other and brotherly love. Briefly touching upon the memories of his ancestors, Father Seraphim spoke about the participation of one of them-Archbishop Juvenaly (Kilin) ??- in the celebrations of the unveiling of the relics of St Seraphim of Sarov in 1903.
The radiant memory of the beloved saint continued to illumine the souls and hearts of the faithful. This day wasa wonderful opportunity to remember how important it is to live in peace, and to always be in a state of preparation to thank God for the countless blessings He gives us in life. The life of Venerable Seraphim inspired the people to actively strive for salvation, to bear the joy of the Resurrected Christ with all of one’s life, with all of one’s works, great and small. May the Lord aid us in this!