Holy Trinity Monastery is blessed with many joyful feasts throughout the liturgical year and also the occasional special event. Such an occasion was recently on Friday evening and Saturday morning, when according to the Church calendar, the feast of St. Sergius of Radonezh was celebrated. It is doubtful that this feast was ever celebrated with such solemnity and joy as this year. During the afternoon services the Hawaiian Iveron Myrrh-streaming icon arrived, brought by its guardian, Brother Nectarios. As the Summer Choir Directors’ School is in full session, there were many worshippers as well as the usual numerous monastery summer pilgrims. In the evening, after supper there was served the usual Small Compline service, at the end of which a small moleben was served, and then the faithful in attendance were anointed with myrrh from the icon.
In the afternoon, his Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, arrived to greet a very important guest, his Beatitude, Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, who finds himself in the United States on a private visit. His Beatitude wished to serve a pannikhida at the grave of the Most Memorable Metropolitan Laurus, our previous superior and the late First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. Vladyka Onuphry also wished to serve the Divine Liturgy with Metropolitan Hilarion and the monastery clergy.
And so, on Saturday morning, Metropolitan Onuphry was greeted at the entrance to the church and officiated the Divine Liturgy along with Metropolitan Hilarion, Bishop Peter of Cleveland, and Bishop Evsevy of Hotin, a vicar bishop of His Beatitude, as well as Archimandrite Luke, the superior of Holy Trinity Monastery and numerous hieromonks and deacons of the monastery and a good number of visiting clergy who wished to participate in this historical visit. It should be pointed out that His Beatitude, typical of his deep humility, wished to not make any fuss and did not even desire an official greeting nor vesting in the middle of the church as is the usual practice.
The presence of the miraculous icon and the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church attracted numerous pilgrims to the monastery, in addition to the usual parishioners and students of the summer school. In all, everyone felt as if it were a very special occasion.
Metropolitan Onuphry is no stranger to our monastery. He and Vladyka Laurus were acquainted years ago and became very good friends, both being of the same background and both being humble men of prayer. From his entrance into the church on Saturday morning, everyone felt the warmth of his smile and his great piety in presiding at the liturgy. Some of us were moved to tears by how he reminded of us of our Vladyka Laurus in his expressions.
At the end of the Liturgy, His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion presented His Beatitude with the highest honor of our Church, The Order of Our Lady of Kursk. Vladyka Onuphry in turn presented Metropolitan Hilarion with a commemorative panagia, commemorating the 1000th anniversary of the repose of the Equal-to-the Apostles, St. Vladimir. Abbot Archimandrite Luke gave Metropolitan Onuphry. a white klobuk which Metropolitan Laurus wore, as a sign of our deep respect of Metropolitan Onuphry. Vladyka Onuphry also spoke some very touching words about how he came to know Vladyka Laurus and started a spiritual friendship which was crowned with the canonical union of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Church Abroad.
After these words of greeting, the clergy and faithful processed to the tomb of Metropolitan Laurus, where a pannikhida was served. And thus Metropolitan Onuphry fulfilled his heart’s desire, to pray for his brother in Christ. Immediately, in the monastery trapeza, dinner was served for the clergy, the brethren and the many pilgrims. Soon after this His Beatitude departed along with the other visiting clergy. We thank God for the prayerful support of His Beatitude and his remembrance of our dear Vladyka Laurus, and we pray that there will be other opportunities for him to visit our monastery and perhaps rest from his very heavy load. Let us not forget what is occurring in Ukraine, where for centuries the West has struggled against the cradle of Russian Orthodoxy and in all ways has tried to divide the faithful of ancient Rus’. May our merciful God and His Most Blessed Mother, made known through Her miraculous myrrh-streaming icon, strengthen His Beatitude, Metropolitan Onuphry, to maintain the canonical Church and protect the holy places of the Kiev Caves and the Pochaev Lavra and other many holy places in the long-suffering Ukrainian land.
-Brother of Holy Trinity Monastery