Your Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros,
Today is a great day for all of us in this parish. It is the historical first visit of our beloved Archpastor to the St. Matrona of Moscow Cathedral in Miami. We whole-heartedly welcome you to the seat of the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate in America. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Matt. 23: 39) You have come to give us your wisdom and to learn about our efforts in developing both our parish and the Vicariate, for which we ask for your blessing. On behalf of the clergy, parishioners, and all who have gathered here, I thank you for your paternal visit to this cathedral, the only church in America dedicated to St. Matrona of Moscow.
Nowadays, it is rare to come across an Orthodox Christian who has never heard of St. Matrona, the holy ascetic of Russia. Righteous Matronushka, as she is called in Russian, was surrounded by veneration in her lifetime. Her grave is frequented by many seeking her help. She was revered as a saint by Russian Orthodox Christians long before her official canonization by the Church. Many people come to this cathedral dedicated to St. Matrona every day. They come from all over Florida and other states to offer their prayers and make requests to this blessed saint. We who are gathered here today, on the anniversary of our Patroness, witness this great affection for her, which takes place deep in our hearts. Our reflections on Matronushka strengthen our faith and piety. All those who come to venerate her relics with their healing power, are asking her to intercede for us before Our Savior. May the Lord protect us all, the city of Miami, Florida and all of America through the prayers of St. Matrona of Moscow.
We live in a world where misunderstandings and confrontations occur frequently between people. Orthodox Christians are no exception. Yet, the Church of Christ must proclaim peace in Christ’s name, and establish love among people. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God,” says the Lord. We regard you, Your Eminence, as one of those peacemakers. You revealed your wisdom and paternal care when, in a difficult moment, you extended a helping hand to us, immigrants from Slavic countries. The same was once done by the Ecumenical Church, through the missionary work of Equal-to-the-Apostles SS. Cyril and Methodius, who enlightened the Slavs with the light of Christ’s Truth. We are grateful to Your Eminence for the blessing that you have brought to us on behalf of the ancient Mother Church of Constantinople.
Our parish is young. Today we are celebrating the ninth anniversary of the establishing of the community and the fifth of this cathedral. We are glad that Your Eminence was able to be with us to lead the festive services in honor of these memorable events. The Lord says, ” By their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matt 7:16). Despite all the difficulties, we are slowly renovating and decorating our cathedral. Your Eminence can see the results of our labors. Today we are completing yet another task- the installation of the central dome, which in a few minutes will be consecrated by Your Eminence.
Next year, by the grace of God, our parish will celebrate its 10th anniversary. By that time, we hope to have installed a new iconostasis. We thought for a long time about it. Taking into consideration the local climatic conditions, we chose to install a porcelain iconostasis. It will be a true work of art. Its design is based on the best samples of old Russian porcelain iconostases. At present, they are quite rare. We believe it is a unique and exclusive solution. It will be the first iconostasis of this type in America. We hope that next year Your Eminence will be able to return to consecrate the new iconostasis.
We will continue to offer prayers for your health and well-being as well as for growth of the Greek Archdiocese. On behalf of all the clergy and laity of the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate, I express our deep gratitude and joy that we had the opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist and pray with Your Eminence in our cathedral on the southeast coast of Florida. Pray for us and visit us more often.
In honor of this occasion, I ask Your Eminence to accept this token of love from the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate. This is a set of gilded silver Panagias and a cross, made in the traditional Slavic style.
May the Lord strengthen and help you in carrying out your archpastoral services to Holy Orthodoxy and in providing your spiritual guidance for us, your numerous flock throughout the entire American land.
Είς πολλά έτη, δέσποτα, Your Eminence!
Archimandrite Alexander Belya,
Vicar of the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate