For the 108th consecutive year, hundreds of faithful flocked to the annual pilgrimage at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery here over Memorial Day weekend.
The pilgrimage officially opened on Friday afternoon, May 25, 2012, with the arrival of the Myrrh-Streaming Iveron Icon of the Mother of God from Hawaii at the monastery entrance arch. The icon, which will visit numerous parishes in the northeast US in early June, was available for veneration throughout the pilgrimage.
The highlight of the pilgrimage was the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Monday, May 28, by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah and members of the Holy Synod of Bishops. Pilgrims also were anointed at a special service following the Divine Liturgy and venerated the relics of Saints Tikhon of Zadonsk, Alexis Toth, and other saints in the monastery church.
On Saturday, May 26, the 70th annual Academic Commencement of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary was held after the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. His Grace, Bishop John of Worcester and New England of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Diocese of North America, delivered the commencement address. A banquet honoring the graduates was held immediately after the ceremony at Saint Michael’s Center, East Jermyn, PA. [Additional information and photos will be posted as they are received.]
For the first time in over three decades, a group of faithful walked in procession from Saint John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Mayfield, PA to the monastery on Sunday, May 27, following the same route faithful took at the first pilgrimage in 1905. Metropolitan Jonah, with the blessing of His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, celebrated the Divine Liturgy at Saint John’s, after which The Very Reverend Mitred Archpriest John Sorochka, rector, and the cathedral faithful hosted a luncheon. Following the celebration of a Service of Prayer, some 40 faithful ranging in age from 4 to 55-plus set out on the 11-mile, 3.5 hour procession to the monastery “in honor of our forefathers who, so many years ago, followed the same path of faith,” according to Protodeacon Joseph Matusiak, who helped organize the procession. “We hope that this will once again become an annual tradition.”
En route, the walkers sang hymns, paused for water — the temperature was well above 80 degrees! — and, at one point, stopped at a house along the way as a man approached them, wishing to venerate the processional cross.
As the walkers reached the monastery entrance arch, Metropolitan Jonah; His Eminence, Archbishop Tikhon; Abbot Sergius, and others greeted and blessed them for their witness, and welcomed them into the dining hall, where a special meal had been prepared for them.
[For a detailed account of the procession with photos and videos, please visit the web site of Saint John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral.]
There was no shortage of traditional monastic hospitality during the pilgrimage, as meals were served to pilgrims after most services with the assistance of many faithful from neighboring parishes. Many also visited the monastery museum and offered prayers in the cemetery in honor of their loved ones.
Established in 1905 during the tenure of Saint Tikhon of Moscow as Bishop, and later Archbishop, of North America, Saint Tikhon’s Monastery is the continent’s oldest Orthodox Christian monastic community. Visit its web site.