On May 22, the 5th Sunday of Holy Pascha, the commemoration of the meeting of the Lord with the Samaritan Woman, and then the Holy Church honors the memory of the Holy Hierarch and Wonderworker Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, the burial of the newly departed First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, was held at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY.
The evening prior, the coffin containing the Metropolitan’s body was brought to Holy Trinity Monastery, where on May 22 Metropolitan Mark of Berlin & Germany celebrated Divine Liturgy. Concelebrated with His Eminence were: Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal & Canada, Archbishop Peter of Chicago & Mid-America, Archbishop Irénée of Ottawa (OCA), Bishop Irenei of London & Western Europe, Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, Bishop Luke of Syracuse, Bishop Gedeon of Makarovka (vicar of the Kiev Metropolitanate UOC), and Bishop Jerome (Shaw), as well as a multitude of clergy from various dioceses of the Russian Church Abroad.
At the service, Metropolitan Mark tonsured Ilya Polouchine a reader for the Diocese of Canada, while Archbishop Gabriel ordained Deacon Mikhail Baleka to the priesthood; Fr. Mikhail will continue his service at Christ the Savior Church in London, ON, Canada.
Among those who gathered to bid farewell to Metropolitan Hilarion were monastics and laity, old and young, relatives of His Eminence from the U.S. and Canada - all for whom he was dear and in whose lives he had played a most important role, and for whom he had shown by his own example the tried and true path to salvation; for whom he had been a helper and counselor in both everyday and spiritual life. On this Sunday, everyone - in Vladyka’s presence - prayed with one heart at the Paschal Liturgy.
Liturgy concluded, and in his touching sermon, Archpriest Peter Perekrestov, rector of Joy of All Who Sorrow Cathedral in San Francisco, said of the Metropolitan, in part:
After Liturgy, luncheon was served for the clergy, pilgrims, and guests in the monastery refectory.
Everyone then gathered again in the church, where Metropolitan Mark officiated the panihida. Archbishop Gabriel shared his memories of Metropolitan Hilarion, whose cell attendant he was when he began his path in the Church.
After saying farewell to the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, the reposed was buried in the monastic cemetery behind the altar of Holy Trinity Cathedral.
The Heavenly hosts grew with yet another prayerful intercessor and faithful son of God, whom Vladyka was during all the time that he spent in his earthly travels, across countries and continents. And now he has returned home – to Him Whom he loved with all his heart.
Abbot Tikhon (Gayfudinov), rector of Holy Protection Skete in Buena, NJ and Metropolitan Hilarion’s cell attendant from 2011 to November 2019, recalled after Vladyka’s burial:
"We all know the traits of Vladyka’s character. We all know of his kindness, we know of his big, kind heart, his kind eyes and kind words. No one remembers Vladyka angry or irritated, no one can say that Vladyka was vengeful or resentful. He always covered everything with love. No matter what happened, he had one reply: God’s will in all things.
"Vladyka was a man of deep inner prayer and the deepest inner asceticism. The depth of his prayer was known to those who were close to him, who helped him, who talked with him, as well as those who themselves lead a prayerful life. I remember how Vladyka would be visiting somewhere and would quietly excuse himself as though to go wash his hands, but in reality would go and be washing the dishes. Or he would help out around the church, or in the skete, where he appointed me and where at first there were no creature comforts. And this was not for show. This was his life."
Many returned to New York after the burial of their First Hierarch and spiritual father, under a rainbow after a fresh rain. And all along the way, during stops and breaks, people would encounter one another, once more greet one another with the Risen Christ, and share even brief recollections and kind words about Vladyka. As though they were all family.