On July 10, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow and All Russia, the Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, arrived on a work visit to the United States of America.
At the airport, Metropolitan Hilarion was met by the Consul General of the Russian Federation in New York, S.K. Ovsyannikov and clerics of St. Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral: Abbot Nicodemus (Balyasnikov), Archpriest Yaroslav Lutoshkin and Priest Mark Rashkov.
On July 11, His Beatitude, the Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America & Canada, Tikhon celebrated the Divine Liturgy in St. Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in New York City co-served by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk as well as the secretary of the Orthodox Church in America, Priest Alessandro Margheritino and clerics of St. Nicholas Cathedral.
Addressing Metropolitan Tikhon at the end of the divine service, Metropolitan Hilarion said:
“Your Beatitude Tikhon, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of America and Canada!
Allow me warmly welcome you on behalf of His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow and All Russia to the St. Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in New York. You have been a guest of this cathedral many times - the center of the spiritual and liturgical presence of the Russian Orthodox Church on American soil, but recently the pandemic has prevented you from visiting this church. And today, while the pandemic has not yet ended, but has significantly lessened on the American continent, we have the opportunity to cordially welcome you here.
The temptation fell to the lot of all the peoples of the world. We remember how last Pascha, both in Russia and here in America, many churches were closed to parishioners: although the divine services were performed, although the Bloodless Sacrifice was raised, the majority of people could only see it on their computer screens and did not have the opportunity to attend church services personally.
The worst wave of the pandemic that covered America last fall and winter claimed tens and hundreds of thousands of lives. Russia and other countries of the canonical presence of the Russian Orthodox Church have also partook of this cup of suffering - we also suffered great losses. In Russia, more than 140 thousand people have died from the coronavirus, and from its consequences - as many as we do not know and, probably, will never be able to count.
Despite that in America, as we can see, the pandemic is declining, a new wave has begun in Russia, - notwithstanding the fact that Russia was the first country to develop a vaccine - vaccination has not proceed at the proper speed, and today we see a new surge of infections and a large number of deaths. We pray to the Lord that this temptation will end as soon as possible for us and for you.
All these perilous events prevented us last year from jointly celebrating the significant anniversary of the Orthodox Church in America - the 50th anniversary of her autocephaly.
The Orthodox Church in America is the fruit of the saving sowing of Russian missionaries, Russian bishops and priests, who brought Orthodoxy to the American continent through Alaska, through the West Coast, and then it reached here - the East Coast of the United States. Many righteous labors were put in for the Orthodox faith to shine on the American continent. And in 1970, the Orthodox Church in America, which was a Daughter of the Russian Orthodox Church, became her beloved Sister. She was granted autocephaly according to the inalienable right that each Local Orthodox Church has: to determine the future of those parts of her that have grown and achieved independence. And despite the fact that recently new theories and new views on this issue have appeared, looking at history, we see that the process of granting autocephaly was never uniform, but the fundamental principle remained: autocephaly was granted by the Mother Church to her Church-Daughter...
Thanks to that event in the history of the Orthodox Church in America, this Holy Orthodox Church has become a truly national Church of its people, where people have the opportunity to participate in divine services in their native language. This Church is dynamically developing and flourishing today under the First Hierarchical omophorion of Your Beatitude.
On behalf of His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow and All Russia, I cordially congratulate you on these church-wide events, as well as on the upcoming jubilee of Your Beatitude - your 55th birthday. We are the same age: our birthdays are only a little over a week apart. I am very pleased that people of our generation today have the opportunity to serve the Church of Christ and give strength to the service of their flock. I would like to wish that in the next 55 years of your life the Lord will strengthen you, grant your Beatitude the strength to bear the heavy achpastoral and first-hierarchal cross”.
In response, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon warmly greeted Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, noting the spiritual, canonical and doctrinal unity of the Orthodox Church in America with its Mother Church - the Moscow Patriarchate. “Dear Metropolitan Hilarion, I am glad to have the opportunity to serve with you a joint Divine Liturgy in spite of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” His Beatitude emphasized.
Metropolitan Hilarion presented His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon with a panagia, presented as a gift to His Beatitude by His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill.
Metropolitan Hilarion also addressed the clergy and parishioners of St. Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral:
“Dear fathers, dear brothers & sisters!
I would like to convey to you the greetings and blessings of His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill.
We have all passed and still continue to pass through a difficult time of trials. But the Lord is merciful: at this time He comforts us with many of His grace-filled gifts. Our main consolation is the Divine service, which is performed in the church, the Holy Eucharist, in which we have the opportunity to participate, and the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, which gives us strength to endure the trials of the present age and prepare for the life to come.
I want to wish all of us that we firmly keep the holy Orthodox faith, love our churches, be faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ on our path in life and fulfill His Divine commandments.
I wish for the clergy of St. Nicholas Cathedral, God's help in carrying out their pastoral work, which is now especially in demand and very much needed. "
At the request of the youth club of the cathedral, Metropolitan Hilarion donated a number of his books to the parishioners.
On his trip to the United States, Metropolitan Hilarion is accompanied by DECR staff member Philip Champion and Subdeacon Vyacheslav Lee.
DECR Communication Service
Translation by www.mospatusa.com