Many Orthodox hierarchs, clergy and faithful gathered here on the weekend of May 28-31, 2010 to take part in the 106th Annual Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk Orthodox Monastery Memorial Day Pilgrimage.
The beloved “weekend of traditions” officially began on Friday afternoon when His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania celebrated the Blessing of Waters at the monastery well. This was followed by the daily celebration of Vespers, and a public meal provided by Igumen Sergius and the monastery brotherhood.
On Saturday, May 29 Bishop Tikhon was joined by His Grace, Bishop Alejo of Mexico City and His Grace, Bishop Michael of New York and New Jersey in the concelebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at the Monastery church. Bishop Tikhon ordained Deacon Benjamin Tucci to the Holy Priesthood during the divine service.
Following hospitality offered by the monastery brotherhood, Igumen Sergius and many pilgrims welcomed the Miraculous and Myrrh-Streaming Hawaii Iveron Icon of the Mother of God to the pilgrimage. Those who were blessed to be present at the greeting of this Icon were able to venerate and receive some of the precious myrrh which flows forth in abundance from this sacred image of the Mother of God. The icon was available for veneration in the Monastery church throughout the pilgrimage weekend.
On Sunday morning, the Feast of All Saints, in the presence of the Miraculous and Myrrh-Streaming Hawaii Icon of the Mother of God, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah was joined by brother hierarchs and clergy in celebrating the Divine Liturgy at the monastery church. Concelebrating with His Beatitude were Bishops Tikhon, Alejo, and Michael. Also joining Metropolitan Jonah were Igumen Sergius; Archpriest Alexander Garklavs, Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America; and clergy from around the country.
That evening, at a banquet hosted in honor of the new graduates of Saint Tikhon’s seminary—see related story at http://www.oca.org/news/2171—those present were again blessed to hear from their beloved hierarchs. Though remarks were directed specifically at those students who, having graduated, are now preparing to go out into the world to serve the Church and her faithful, all who were in attendance were greatly moved by the vision of transformation which was the common thread in the evening’s remarks. Throughout the course of the evening, extremely generous donations were given to both the Seminary and the Monastery by the Saint Alexis Foundation, the Saint Tikhon’s Centennial Association, and the Saint Tikhon’s Alumni Association.
On Memorial Day, Metropolitan Jonah concelebrated with many brother hierarchs and led hundreds of faithful in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at the large pavilion church established for this yearly event. Concelebrating with Metropolitan Jonah were His Eminence, Bishop Joseph of Los Angeles and the West of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America; His Eminence, Archbishop Justinian of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Moscow Patriarchal Parishes in the US; His Eminence, Archbishop Job of Kashira, Administrator of the Moscow Patriarchal Parishes in Canada; His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada; His Grace, Bishop Nikon of Boston and New England and the Albanian Archdiocese; His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania; His Grace, Bishop Alejo of Mexico City and the Diocese of Mexico; His Grace, Bishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, and His Grace, Bishop Michael of New York and New Jersey. At the invitation of Metropolitan Jonah and his brother hierarchs, retired Metropolitans Herman and Theodosius joined in this historic concelebration of the Divine Liturgy. Igumen Sergius; Archpriest Alexander Garklavs; Archpriest Eric Tosi, OCA Secretary; Igumen Alexander [Pihach], Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Canada; Archpriest Joseph Lickwar, Chancellor of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey; Archpriest John Kowalczyk, Chancellor of the Dioces of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania; and STOTS class of 1950 Valedictorian Archpriest John Nehrebecki were among the many notable clergy who served at the Divine Liturgy.
Following the service, the hierarchs processed to the grave of Metropolitan Leonty, located directly behind the monastery church, and celebrated a Panikhida. Hierarchs and Patriarchs, monks, nuns, and those who have served the church were through the years were also remembered in prayer.
A highlight of this year’s pilgrimage was the childrens’ activity booth staffed by the OCA Department of Christian Education [DCE]. Over 75 children participated in activities that included a tour of the monastery museum, presentations on North American Orthodox Church history, and stories relating the lives of North America’s Orthodox saints. Resources recently produced by the DCE were featured. Children enjoyed making sand crosses, prayer bracelets, and the always popular and often requested bird feeders. Maria Proch directed the activities, assisted by her mother, Marie Proch; DCE members Valerie Zahirsky, Alexandra Safchuk, John Pusey, and Daria Petrykowski; and Anastasia Bilas. The children were delighted to have Bishop Melchisedek join them.
Pilgrims spent the remainder of the day exploring the grounds of the monastery, the bookstore and newly renovated and expanded museum, meeting old friends and family, and taking part in prayer services held throughout the day. In the cemetery that has organically spread from behind the monastery church and over the surrounding hillside, which contains the grave of Saint Alexis Toth and currently holds the graves of Metropolitan Leonty and Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemman, many Panikhida services were offered for departed loved ones. A memorial service was celebrated for departed military servicemen and women, and was concluded by the playing of Taps by a retired military regiment. Many flocked to the monastery bell tower for the service of healing and anointing, and to the Akathist held before the relics of Saint Alexis in the monastery church.
The pilgrimage officially closed after the celebration of Vespers on Monday evening.