On July 10 Archbishop Elpidophoros, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, paid an archpastoral visit to the Brooklyn Cathedral of the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate where he led the Divine Liturgy.
In an atmosphere of warmth and joy, Archpriest Alexander Belya, Rector of St. John the Forerunner & Baptist Cathedral, welcomed the Archbishop. “Every Orthodox Christian in his daily life is guided by the Holy Gospel. The teaching of Christ in its entirety and integrity is preserved by the Eastern Orthodox Church. Historically it enlightened Slavic countries, including Kievan Rus’, with the light of Christ. Therefore, the Ecumenical Church of Constantinople is rightfully called the Mother of all Slavic Churches. The faithful of the Slavic Vicariate, as all Orthodox Christians in America, have a special filial feeling towards the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In the establishing of our Vicariate, we clearly see the providence of God and Your Eminence’s wisdom, for which we are grateful. We sincerely ask for your holy prayers, archpastoral teaching, and blessings. Eis pollá étē, Déspota!”
Archbishop Elpidophoros conducted the liturgy with Archimandrite Alexander Belya, Vicar of the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate of America, Archpriest Alexander Belya, Rector of the Brooklyn Cathedral, Archpriests Vasily Deyak, Michael Gutsul, and John Spasiuk, Protodeacons Rostislav Zadorozhny and Peter Utkin, and Deacon George Hero, as well as Deacons Philotheos Tomchewski and Bartholomew Mercado of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. The Divine Liturgy was celebrated in three languages; Church Slavonic, Greek, and English. The service was beautifully performed by the Cathedral Choir. Many parishioners attended to share the special day with Fr. Rostislav, who is the first priest to be ordained in the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate of America.
Archbishop Elpidophoros had earlier approved the Vicariate’s right to bestow liturgical awards to its clergy for zealous service based on the Slavic tradition. Accordingly, during the Small Entrance His Eminence granted Protodeacon Peter Utkin the right to wear a purple kamilavka, and elevated Deacon George Hero to the rank of Protodeacon. Immediately following the Great Entrance Protodeacon Rostislav Zadorozhny was ordained to the Priesthood. After the ordination Archbishop Elpidophorus addressed Father Rostislav. “As a Presbyter of the Church, dear Father Rostislav, you will join this heavenly throng and add your voice to theirs, as you minister the Holy Liturgy. You are called to their purity of heart and clarity of vision. Be bold in your ministry, and always trust in the purity and clarity of our Holy Orthodox Faith.” His Eminence then presented Father Rostislav with the special liturgical awards of a golden pectoral cross (a gift from the parish delivered by Ivan Belya, Warden of the Brooklyn Cathedral) and a purple kamilavka.
At the conclusion of the liturgy, Archimandrite Alexander thanked Archbishop Elpidophoros for his visit on behalf of the clergy and laity of the Vicariate. The Vicar presented him with an icon of the Mother of God of Vladimir. He prayed that the Most Holy Theotokos would always be the Archbishop’s Protector and Intercessor in His ministry and labors on behalf of the Orthodox Church in America. In response His Eminence assured the congregation that the icon would be among those in front of which he prayed daily, and that it would always remind him of the day. Addressing Fr. Rostislav, Archimandrite Alexander emphasized that the Sacrament of the Priesthood is like a small personal Pentecost. Archpriest Alexander then thanked Archbishop Elpidophoros for ordaining Father Rostislav, who was his disciple and for whom, he believed, the providential time has come to become a priest. He also congratulated his beloved wife, Matushka Christina, on her birthday. At the end the Archbishop expressed his gratitude to everyone who took part in the day’s celebrations, wishing the clergy and the parishioners of the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate good health and prosperity. The service concluded with the singing of “Many Years!” A trapeza (traditional feast) followed in the church hall at which the clergy and parishioners personally congratulated the newly ordained priest and thanked His Eminence.
Congratulations to Father Rostislav on his ordination to the priesthood! Wishing him God’s help in his future ministry! Congratulations to Fr. Peter and Fr. George on receiving their awards! Axios! Axios! Axios!