On August 19-20, with the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Bishop Athenagoras of Nazianzos visited St. Matrona of Moscow Cathedral in Miami, which is the seat of the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate of America.
On August 19, the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, His Grace Bishop Athenagoras celebrated the Divine Liturgy with Archimandrite Alexander, Vicar of the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate and Rector of the cathedral, Archpriest Rostislav Zadorozhny, Rector of the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Red Bank (New Jersey), Archpriest Alexander Bozhinov, cleric of the Monastery of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Fort Myers (Florida), Priest Maxim Pliskov, cleric of the Miami Cathedral, Protodeacon Vladimir Oleinik, cleric of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY, and Protodeacon Ioann Kovach, cleric of the Vicariate.
Before the start of the Liturgy, Bishop Athenagoras performed consecrations over brother Seraphim and brother George, who were installed as Readers for the Cathedral of St. Matrona.
During the liturgy Bishop Athenagoras performed two further ordinations. After the Great Entrance, Protodeacon Ioann Kovac was ordained as a priest, and after the Eucharistic Canon, Monk Pedro Medina Bazar as a Hierodeacon.
At the end of the service, His Grace blessed the grapes and other fruits of the new harvest.
Greeting the clergy and parishioners on the feast, Bishop Athenagoras congratulated the newly ordained clergy and Readers of the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate.
His Grace shared the joy of his first visit to the Cathedral, noting that Saint Matrona is very close to his heart. At one time, he had the opportunity to pray at the relics of St. Matrona in Moscow. During the period of his priestly service in Germany, there was a hand-made image of the Saint at his parish.
In his response, Archimandrite Alexander thanked His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros for blessing His Grace Bishop Athenagoras to come to the Miami and perform the ordinations and installations. He noted, “His Eminence takes care of us in a fatherly manner so that the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate develops quantitatively and transforms qualitatively”. In memory of his visit to the Cathedral, the Vicar presented Bishop Athenagoras with a bishop’s gift set of a panagia and a cross.
On August 20, the 11th Sunday after Pentecost and on the second day of the Feast of the Transfiguration, Bishop Athenagoras celebrated the Divine Liturgy with Archimandrite Alexander, Archpriest Rostislav Zadorozhny, Fr. Maxim Pliskov, Fr. John Kovac, Protodeacon Vladimir Oleynik, and Hierodeacon Pedro Medina Bazar.
After the Great Entrance, Bishop Athenagoras ordained Hierodeacon Pedro as a Hieromonk. His Grace also elevated Fr. Maxim Pliskov to the rank of Archpriest.
At the end of the service, Bishop Athenagoras led a prayer service for the start of the new school year, blessing the parish’s teachers and students.
Archimandrite Alexander, on behalf of the clergy and laity, congratulated Bishop Athenagoras, thanking him for his visit to the Cathedral. He expressed his special gratitude to His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros, whose blessing made the visit possible. Bishop Athenagoras came from Arizona, bringing everyone a blessing from the Monastery of St. Anthony the Great, founded by Elder Ephraim.
Archimandrite Alexander also congratulated Fr. Pedro on his ordination to the priesthood. The newly ordained cleric will serve in Miami and minister to a Spanish-speaking parish. The Vicar expressed his hope this Spanish-speaking community will grow and expand the flock of the Vicariate.