His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate presided at the annual patronal feastday pilgrimage to the Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration here on August 5-6, 2013.
His Grace, Bishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania also was present, together with His Grace, Bishop Ignatie, Auxiliary of the Romanian Episcopate of Spain and Portugal and His Grace, Bishop John of the Antiochian Orthodox Diocese of Worcester and New England. Also present were His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, retired, and Archimandrite Alexander, Abbot of Saint John Monastery, Hiram, OH.
The monastery church was filled beyond capacity as the four hierarchs led the faithful in the celebration of the festal Vigil, celebrated by Igumen Calinic and Protodeacon John Oleynik. Responses sung by the nuns, while Subdeacon Gregory Abdalah chanted selections in Byzantine style, creating a lovely blending of styles and voices. The congregation sang along, making an uplifting Vigil!
The following morning, a long procession led by the nuns made its way to the monastery’s outdoor Saint Elizabeth Chapel Pavilion for the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. Twenty-six priests and three deacons representing five jurisdictions concelebrated with the hierarchs. An overflow crowd of pilgrims filled the chapel and the adjoining lawn, while responses were sung by the nuns. Bishop John delivered a most inspiring sermon.
“Archbishop Nathaniel has been a pastor who has expressed love and comfort to priests regardless of jurisdiction,” said Bishop John in his sermon. “He didn’t ever ask who is your bishop before he embraced us and hugged us and helped us and supported us. Even Sunday of Orthodoxy doesn’t attract as many Orthodox clergy to come and celebrate together our oneness, our life together, our unity, and our joy in Jesus Christ as does this annual pilgrimage. People come and gather, and here we know none of the division and foolishness of the fallen world—just God’s love and His joy and His peace and the oneness of the Holy Trinity.”
Other special guests included Archdeacon Ioan Ardelean, Professor of Music at the Conservatory of Music in Constanta, Romania, and his wife Preoteasa Nicoleta Ardelean, an internationally known opera solo soprano who has performed at La Scala, among other venues. Archdeacon Ioan served at the Liturgy, while Preoteasa Nicoleta delighted the nuns by singing with them in the choir.
Later in the day, Mr. Lou Zagami made a presentation to the faithful of the work of International Orthodox Christian Charities. A collection was taken for the ongoing work of the humanitarian agency, which offers assistance to countless individuals and families around the world.
The foundation for monastery’s new bell tower was blessed by Archbishop Nathaniel and Bishop John. The tower will be erected in September as the final segment of this phase of renovations currently underway.
Archbishop Nathaniel, Bishop John, eight priests and one deacon celebrated the Sacrament of Holy Unction in the afternoon, at which many pilgrims were anointed for the healing of soul and body. As priests anointed the faithful, Archbishop Nathaniel led the chanting of the Paraklesis to the Mother of God with the sisters and pilgrims.
One year ago, when the nuns began their current building program, their goal was to better serve the pilgrims who come from all over this country and other parts of the world. The fruits of the year-long project were very clear at this year’s pilgrimage, and the nuns were pleased to see the pilgrims using and enjoying the new and enlarged facilities. The clear, blue skies and friendly breeze helped make the day perfect!