Wayne, WV: August 16, 2016
Bishop Nicholas leads celebrations in honor of St Panteleimon at Holy Cross Monastery
On Monday and Tuesday, August 8-9, 2016, the feast of the Holy Great-Martyr and Healer Panteleimon, the brethren of Holy Cross Monastery in Wayne, WV, celebrated their heavenly patron. This year, the divine services in honor of the holy passion-bearer were led by His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese.
Bishop Nicholas arrived in the early afternoon on Monday and was greeted with the honorific peal of bells. His Grace was escorted to the monastery’s main church, where he venerated the holy icons and altar table and then led a small discussion with the monks. The monastery’s abbot, Archimandrite Seraphim, relayed questions from the brethren; the hierarch relayed the greetings and best wishes of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, currently traveling on pilgrimage; he spoke of his recent travels to Russia, Ukraine, and around the diocese, his impressions of the faithful – especially the youth – and their zeal for the Faith and veneration of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God; His Grace even spoke about a funeral that he recently served for a young lady, Natalia, who reposed unexpectedly in New York City.
After dinner, all-night vigil for St Panteleimon was served in the monastery church. Joining His Grace at Vigil were:
-Archimandrite Seraphim (Voepel; monastery abbot);
-Archpriest John Dixon (rector of Holy Spirit Antiochian Church in Huntington, WV);
-Hieromonk Andrew (O’Leary; monastery cleric);
-Priest Jonah Campbell (rector of Christ the Savior Church in Wayne, WV);
-Hieromonk Nektarios (Merry; superior of St. John the Theologian Skete in Hiram, OH);
-Hieromonk Hilarion (Heagy; monastery cleric);
-Priest Matthew Moore (rector of St. John the Baptist Greek Church in Charleston, WV);
-Hieromonk Gabriel (Hooten; monastery cleric);
-Archdeacon Sergius (Wilson; monastery cleric);
-Deacon Jeremiah Davis (cleric of Christ the Savior Church);
-Hierodeacon Paisios (Laiblin; monastery cleric), and
-Deacon Andrew Temple (cleric of Christ the Savior Church).
During the polyeleos, the magnification was sung to St Panteleimon, followed by an akathist, sung by all of the clergy and faithful. The akathist booklet is a publication by Holy Cross Monastery and represents countless hours of hard work by its compilers and editors. Many of the faithful made their confessions, in order to approach the Holy Chalice the following morning. After vigil, a bountiful Mediterranean meal was served in the monastery refectory, prepared and provided (as it is every year) by the Saad family, local faithful and longtime patrons of the monastery.
The following morning, prior to the start of Liturgy, Hieromonk Hilarion and Deacon Jeremiah performed the blessing of the water. The clergy and faithful then greeted Bishop Nicholas, and the hours were read. Concelebrating the Divine Liturgy was the above-mentioned clergy (except Frs Matthew Moore and Andrew Temple), who were joined by Archpriest John Moses (cleric of Holy Myrrh-bearers Church in Harrisonburg, VA), Priest James Dougherty, and Priest Mark Tyson (rector of Holy Dormition (St Mary’s) Carpatho-Russian Church in Bluefield, WV). Praying in church and communing was Archpriest Thomas Moore (rector of Holy Apostles OCA Church in West Columbia, SC).
The divine services were sung by the monastic choir. It was especially joyous to have the entire brotherhood present: the monks who labor in St John the Theologian Skete (a dependency of Holy Cross Monastery in Hiram, OH) joined their brothers to celebrate the feast of St Panteleimon.
At little entrance, with the blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion, Bishop Nicholas bestowed the following awards:
-Archpriest John Moses was awarded the right to wear the jeweled cross;
-Hieromonk Andrew (O’Leary) was elevated to the rank of abbot (hegumen), and
-Priest Jonah Campbell was awarded the right to wear the kamilavka.
Virtually all those present communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries. Upon completion of the service, a short moleben was served to the Holy Great-Martyr and Healer. His Grace then addressed those gathered with a sermon, in which he said, in part: "The epistle reading today began with the words, ‘My son Timothy, be strong in the grace of Christ.’ Everything is said there, everything we need. We have Christ and, if we are worthy, He bestows upon us His grace. St Panteleimon truly received this grace through prayer, through struggles, through his merciful acts, through knowing Christ. Even at the end of his life, during cruel tortures, he was visited and comforted by angels. What did St Panteleimon do with this grace? He shared it with others; he did not hide it, but went out into the world and proclaimed to the people that his many miracles were all wrought in Christ’s name. We must likewise be missionaries, sharing the grace we receive from the Lord."
His Grace also informed the brethren that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the repose of the Holy Hierarch John of Shanghai and San Francisco, as well as the millennium of Russian monastic presence on Mount Athos – consequently, this day also marked the patronal feast day of St Panteleimon Russian Monastery on the Holy Mountain (where the skull of the saint is located). He also reminded them of an oft-forgotten fact: it was on this same day, August 9, 1970, that the Russian Church Abroad glorified Venerable Herman of Alaska.
The deacons intoned the Polychronia for the monastic brotherhood and the faithful, as well as for the namesday celebrants. "Memory Eternal" was intoned for Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky; First Hierarch of ROCOR, who reposed on August 10, 1936 – eighty years prior), Archimandrite Panteleimon (longtime cleric of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY), Schemamonk John (Dezorzi; who reposed last year on August 9), and the above-mentioned newly departed Natalia.
After Liturgy, the brethren all processed in order to the monastery refectory, carrying a special prosphora from the church for the Rite of the Panagia. After the luncheon, the rite was completed, during which all those present sang hymns to the Most Holy Theotokos as the prosphora was cut up and then taken around the refectory. The faithful each took a piece of the blessed bread, made a sign of the cross over the censer, and ate it.
After a group photo, the clergy, monks, and pilgrims gathered at the foot of the hill outside of the refectory and the monastic dormitory, where the foundation had just recently been completed for the monastery’s new and much-needed workhouse. The building will include a candle factory, bakery, conference room, and storage shed. In honor of the glorification of St Herman of Alaska, the brethren decided to name the building in honor of the North American missionary. Troparia to the Holy Cross, St Panteleimon, and St Herman were all sung, and Bishop Nicholas wished that these holy saints will always guide and bless the monastery’s work unto the glory of God.