Red Bank is a small town in New Jersey located 50 miles from Manhattan. In 1950, an Orthodox Christian parish named for St. Nicholas the Wonderworker was founded there by Cossacks. The new parish was blessed by Archbishop Vitaliy Maximenko of Eastern America and Jersey City.
On October 30 the parish celebrated its 72nd anniversary. Its current rector, Fr. Rostislav Zadorozhnyy, led the Divine Liturgy assisted by Protodeacon Vladimir Oleynik of the Cathedral of St. John the Forerunner in Brooklyn, NY. The festivities were made even more sacred by the presence of the relics of the parish’s patron saint brought from the Slavic Vicariate’s monastery in Fort Myers, Florida. Also named for St. Nicholas, it is the oldest Orthodox monastic institution in the state of Florida. The relics were brought at the request of the parish’s rector.
At the end of the service, Fr. Rostislav gave a sermon on the theme of the Gospel reading, the Parable of the Sower. He then congratulated the parishioners on the founding of their community and thanked Fr. Vladimir for concelebrating the Divine Liturgy. Fr. Rostislav spoke of the congregation’s history and the struggle for survival it experienced in recent years. A year and a half ago, St. Nicholas parish was on the verge of closing. Divine services had not been performed in the church for more than 10 years and the building had been vandalized. None of the decorations, liturgical vessels, service books, or furniture survived the destruction. Yet, through the prayers and efforts of the faithful, the church was repaired and the community stayed together. The revived St. Nicholas parish was accepted into the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate with the blessing of the Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. Regular services are now held in the church on Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings as well as major feast days.
Fr. Rostislav also thanked Ivan Belya, Public Relations Director of the Vicariate, for his efforts in bringing the relics of St. Nicholas from the monastery in Florida. It gave the entire parish the opportunity to pray to the “quick helper and intercessor,” as the Church addresses this beloved saint. Ivan noticed that the many parishioners present in church was an indication of the visible growth of the community. He expressed his hopes that “soon the church would be so filled with people that there would be no free space left.” Fr. Rostislav also recognized the dedication and hard work of Eugeny, the Warden of the parish, and Nadezhda, the Choir Director. He conveyed greetings and congratulations from Archimandrite Alexander Belya, the Vicar of the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate, and Archpriest Alexander, the spiritual father of the parish.
At the end, the clergy served a special service (moleben) with the relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker and a memorial service for all those departed who worked hard for the founding, formation and development of the parish in Red Bank. A concert performed by young parishioners who study at the Parish Sunday School concluded the festivities.