The St. Sava Cathedral Community in Manhattan, as its Cathedral is being rebuilt, is temporarily without a home . However, it is neither abandoned nor forgotten thanks to the fraternal love and fellowship offered by the hierarchy, clergy and communities of the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches in New York City. Again, this year, Christmas was no exception!
On Christmas Eve, January 6, 2018, with the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios and the goodness of Archimandrite Chrysostomos (Gilbert), together with his parish community at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Manhattan. Here, the New York City Serbian Cathedral Community was able to celebrate Christmas Eve Services, with over 700 faithful gathered in attendance. The Christmas Eve Vigil was celebrated by His Grace Bishop Irinej, Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Zivojin Jakovljevic, Cathedral Dean, Protopresbyter Aleksa Micich, Protodeacon Milos Zdralic, Diocesan Financial Secretary, and Deacon Jovan Anicic, Diocesan Education Director.
The Cathedral Choir, under the Direction of Maestro Milos Raickovic, sang the responses. A special surprise, to the delight of all, was the first time participation of the Junior Choir, singing Serbian Christmas Carols following the Blessing of the Badnjak (Yule Tree). This new, young choir consists of members of the Opancici Serbian Folklore Group, under the direction of Deacon Jovan Anicic.
The Protection of the Theotokos Cathedral Circle of Serbian Sisters and the Serbian Club in Ridgewood prepared a delicious Lenten Repast for all to enjoy, following the Vigil Services.
The following day, on Christmas, January 7, with the blessings of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, Bishop Irinej, Fr. Zivojin Jakovljevic, Fr. Aleksa Micich, Protodeacon Milos Zdralic and Deacon Jovan Anicic, joined Bishop Nikolai of Manhattan and Protopresbyter Andrei Sommer, Cathedral Dean, and Protodeacons Nikolai Mohov and Vadim Gann, in concelebrating the Festal Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great at the Most Holy Theotokos of the Sign (Kursk-Root Icon) Cathedral of New York City.
The Cathedral Choir under the baton of Regent Peter Fecula responded resplendently to the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, singing in addition to Liturgical responses, Christmas Carols, to the joy of all present.
His Grace Bishop Nikolai thanked Bishop Irinej and the Serbian Community for joining them and welcomed them to come whenever the opportunity arises, recalling the traditional hospitality offered to the Russians following the Revolution in 1917 by His Holiness Patriarch Dimitrije and His Majesty King Alexander I. His Grace Bishop Irinej responded in kind and thanked Bishop Nikolai and his entire community for their love and hospitality, noting how in the collective eyes of the Serbian faithful, the Star of Bethlehem was seen to rest atop the ever-standing walls of the Cathedral now being restored. He spoke in detail of the restoration process, including the finding of the relics and an unscathed silver icon of the Theotokos! His Grace informed all present that it would be his joy to reciprocate at the consecration of the restored Cathedral.
At the conclusion of the Liturgy, the Russian Cathedral Sisterhood and the Serbian Club in Ridgewood prepared a sumptuous festal luncheon for all to enjoy.
INDEED, CHRIST IS BORN!