First Annual Patronal Feast

On Tuesday, October 3/16, 2018, we were all blessed to witness and take part in the very first feast day of St. Dionysios the Areopagite to be celebrated at the newly acquired monastery property of the ROCOR Brotherhood of Saint Dionysios the Areopagite in Saint James, Long Island, New York. It also helped greatly that the Monastery now has two beautiful signs on Route 25A — Saint Dionysios on one side, and the Protection of the Mother of God on the other — drawing the attention of the pilgrims and the locals.

After serving the Vigil the night before, and making many preparations together with the community of hardworking laymen and pilgrims, the monks and the people eagerly awaited the arrival of the two Bishops and also of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, brought by His Grace, Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan. Bishop Nicholas served the Proskomede, while Archimandrite Maximos (Weimar), the Abbot, and the rest of the brotherhood awaited the arrival of His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of Russian Church Abroad.

The Third and Sixth Hours and Hierarchal Liturgy followed immediately upon the Metropolitan’s arrival and vesting, and the Monks were blessed to have not only their own clergy serving and singing that day, but also were very encouraged by the presence and help of our close, longtime friend, Archpriest Alexandre Antchoutine of the parish of Pokrov Saint Sergius (Glen Cove, NY), serving and assisting together at the Altar.

The Glen Cove parish, whose feast some of the monks served two days earlier, is like a home away from home for the monks and provides many occasions for mutual fellowship — especially now that our feast days are only two days apart (Protection of the Theotokos on Oct 1/14, and St. Dionysios on Oct 3/16), and also since icons of both now grace the Monastery entrance. And so, together with them, and with the clergy and people at the ROCOR Synod Cathedral and St. Sergius Mission at Synod, and also St. Seraphim’s, Sea Cliff, NY, and many other New York and Long Island Orthodox of many different jurisdictions, the brotherhood is surrounded by a host of wonderful and long-lasting friends!

Serving at the Altar together with Metropolitan Hilarion and Bishop Nicholas that day, were the following:

  • Archimandrite Maximos, Abbot
  • Hieromonk Silouan, Deputy-Abbot
  • Archimandrite John
  • Archpriest Alexandre Antchoutine
  • Hierodeacon Michael
  • Hierodeacon Parthenios

Meanwhile, chanting at Kliros were two other monks of the Brotherhood:

  • Hieromonk Zosimas
  • Hierodeacon Daniel

And much assistance, and greatly appreciated by the Brotherhood, was given by the Metropolitan’s driver, Reader David.

During the homily, Metropolitan Hilarion drew special attention to the Apostolic reading about St. Dionysios the Areopagite (Acts 17), noting how Saint Paul was trying to speak to the Athenians about the Unknown God and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and yet many of them replied with dismissive words that mocked this strange doctrine of Paul; but Dionysios (an eminent philosopher and chief judge), together with Damaris and certain others, did not mock or scoff, but said, rather, “I want to know more,” and listened and believed!

After the Homily, a great blessing followed, namely, the ordination to the Holy Diaconate of Monk Vasilios (Willard), now Hierodeacon Vasilios, whose family are natives of Smithtown, and who grew up in the area of the new Monastery. He was led to and around the altar by Hierodeacons Michael and Parthenios, and received a hearty “Axios!” and many words of congratulations afterwards.

After the Communion of the Clergy and the Faithful, and the Dismissal followed by many words of kindness and congratulations, the men and women of the local lay community (and many from afar) served a wonderful festal meal, both indoors for the Bishops, Monks and Clergy, and also outdoors under tents, with tables and chairs for the people to relax and enjoy one another’s company in the beautiful weather we were granted that day.

Heartfelt toasts were offered during the meal, among them the toast of Fr. Alexandre Antchoutine who compared the recent experience of the Brotherhood of Saint Dionysios to the larger ROCOR experience of “always living with your bags packed, but now being established in your own place.” Hieromonk Silouan, Archimandrite John, and Hieromonk Zosimas, in turn, toasted and offered thanks to the overarching Providence of God in the narrative history of the forming and sustaining of our Brotherhood of ten monks, and particularly our thanks to God for Archimandrite Maximos’ patience and discernment and longsuffering guidance and oversight that helped up, together with Metropolitan Hilarion, to get us all to this newly established place.

In short, the Monks are thankful to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Most-Holy Mother and Saint Dionysios the Areopagite, the beloved Hierarchs of the Russian Church Abroad and her clergy, and all our Orthodox brethren, for allowing our Brotherhood to now have a sense of belonging, a sense of permanence, together with hopeful and fruitful possibilities for our future, in a place that we can finally call “Home.” In honour of this new home, Saint James, New York, the Abbot and Brotherhood presented Metropolitan Hilarion with a small silver censer from Compostela, Spain, on whose stand are depicted the icon of the Apostle Saint James, and on whose base is the image of a Seashell, in memory of Saint James.

Another special thanks is offered to His Grace, Bishop Nicholas, whose decision to leave the Kursk-Root Icon with the monks overnight made possible our visitation of our fellow monk, Fr. Cornelius, who has been bedridden at the local Rehab Center after a month-long stay in the hospital.

We pray that our community of monks at Monastery of Saint Dionysios in Saint James, NY can continue by the Grace of God to contribute to the work of Christ and His Church, and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and particularly to the growth of monasticism in our land.

And we thank all the hierarchs, clergy, monastics, and laypeople who have made this Feast and this Monastery possible!