On Saturday, August 13th, 2022 the Forefeast of the Procession of the Honorable Cross, the St. Nicholas parish of Metropolitan Philadelphia welcomed our Father and Hierarch, Kyr Irinej. His Grace was accompanied by Diocesan Financial Secretary, Deacon Darko Tripkovic, and Diocesan Social Media Editor, Reader Nebojsa Varagic.
Assisting His Grace in celebrating the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy were: Fr. Milorad Orlic (parish priest), Fr. Emmanuel Pratsinakis (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese), Fr. Dennis Rhodes (Orthodox Church in America, Albanian Exarchate), Fr. Ilija Balach (Diocese of Eastern America), Fr. James Thayer (Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese), Fr. Victor Gorodenchyk (Orthodox Church in America), and Fr. Sabin Pop (Orthodox Church in America, Romanian Exarchate), endowing the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with a true Pan-Orthodox ambience. Cantor Radovan Micic beautifully chanted the bi-lingual responses, while the church-school children accentuated the beauty of the Liturgy, chanting the Lord’s Prayer in Serbian and English, the Troparion of the Precious Cross, and St. Nicholai of Zhicha’s hymn to the Cross, “Save, O God, Your people, save them, O Lord” (Спаси Боже људе Твоје, Спаси Господе.)
Prior to beginning the celebration of Divine Liturgy, His Grace completed the consecration of our church (previously only blessed by the Rite of Lesser Consecration) by anointing the walls of the temple with Holy Chrism. His Grace explained the significance of this rite, paralleling the consecration of a church with the baptism of the person. During the singing of the Great Doxology His Grace, preceded by the Deacon, who censed the walls, and Fr. Dennis Rhodes, who blessed the walls with Holy Water, anointed the walls of the church with Holy Chrism. Following which, Bishop Irinej read the final prayer of consecration.
Following the Prayer before the Ambo, His Grace, preceded by the clergy, processed to the western exterior wall of the church with the faithful, where a new Apex Cross awaited to be blessed. The Cross was secured through the endeavors and leadership of previous Parish Council President, Ms. Vesna Krstic, whose initiative motivated parishioners to finance the purchase of a beautiful new Cross, which is cast in a more traditional Orthodox design. Concluding the reading of the prayers and blessing by His Grace, the Troparion of the Holy Cross was chanted in Serbian, English, Greek, Romanian and Russian, while each of the clergy were, in turn, invited to bless the Cross. After the dismissal and distribution of antidoron – naphora, in the presence of all, the Cross was lifted and mounted into position by the professionals of “Steeplejacks of America” from Strongsville OH, adorning the skyline in Cheltenham Township (PA), and witnessing to the presence of an Orthodox church.
Following the joyous festivities, a sumptuous celebratory luncheon was prepared by the diligent Circle of Serbian Sisters, for all present to continue to enjoy each other’s fellowship at an Agape meal.