New York, May 24, 2011
Joining the two metropolitans in the service was His Eminence Archbishop Justinian of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the US; His Grace Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania (OCA); and His Grace Bishop Jerome of Manhattan (ROCOR), along with clergymen of the Moscow Patriarchate, the OCA and Church Abroad.
After Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Jonah and Metropolitan Hilarion read a joint greeting sent to Patriarch Kyrill on his namesday:
Your Holiness Vladyka!
We thank the Lord, Who allowed us on this feast day to offer His Bloodless Sacrifice at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St Nicholas of the Russian Orthodox Church in New York City.
On this feast day of SS Cyril and Methodius, Equal-to-the-Apostles, Illuminators of the Slavs, having partaken of the Holy Gifts in the One Holy Spirit, from One Holy Chalice of Christ, we greet Your Holiness on your namesday with genuine love.
By All-Blessed Divine Providence, it was granted to you today to be the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, of which the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia remains an indissoluble part, and which is honored as its spiritual Mother and also Sister by the Orthodox Church in America.
We are confident that fact of the long-awaited concelebration between Hierarchs of the American and Russian Church Abroad are joyful tidings to Your Holiness’ heart and to the souls of many, many Orthodox clergymen and laypersons.
Metropolitan Jonah then greeted his fellow archpastors, clergymen and laity, expressing his joy over the joint celebration of Divine Liturgy with Hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. His Beatitude also expressed his confidence that this concelebration is very symbolic in that it took place at St Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral on the namesday of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill. As a sign of fraternal love and in prayerful memory of the Liturgy we celebrated, Metropolitan Jonah gave the Primate of the Russian Church Abroad a portion of the relics of the Illuminators and Missionaries of America, St Herman of Alaska and St Alexei (Toth).
Responding to the greeting from the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, Metropolitan Hilarion, who noted his certainty that “an historic event has taken place, on the feast day of the Illuminators of the Slavs, Equals-to-the-Apostles, as we have gathered at St Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral to celebrate Divine Liturgy together with the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, and to congratulate His Holiness Patriarch Kirill.” Metropolitan Hilarion gave Metropolitan Jonah a gift of a portion of the relics of St John of Shanghai, in whose honor one of the monasteries of the OCA is devoted.
The heads of the OCA and ROCOR, as well as Bishop Tikhon and Bishop Jerome, greeted Archbishop Justinian: “Today is truly a great day: in these bright days of the Pascha of Christ, we share the joy of common prayer on the namesday of the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, who gathered us all here at St Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral.
“This day will enter the history books of our Churches and will remain in the memory of many Orthodox Christians. The canonical demands, the claims of one part of the Orthodox Church against another have erected high walls which separate the One Church, and it seemed to each side that it is correct in its demands, and right in its view of the life of the Church. But the Lord judges us by His mercy, and He desires the same mercy from us in our interrelationships, for if He judges us by the law, then we shall have no forgiveness. Commissions established by the American Church and Russian Church Abroad worked in the spirit of brotherly love and the desire for Eucharistic unity, and their Councils of Bishops approved the need for Liturgical communion, and today I wish to thank everyone who labored for the sake of today’s celebration. But first of all, we thank His Beatitude Vladyka Jonah and His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, who as divinely-wise Archpastors of the flock of Christ, took upon themselves the noble duty and brought their flock to join service at Divine Liturgy.”
Vladyka Justinian, in prayerful memory of the celebrations and the namesday of His Holiness, gave Metropolitan Jonah and Metropolitan Hilarion icons of the Mother of God of Vladimir and of the Most-Holy Mother of God of Kazan to Bishop Tikhon and Bishop Jerome.
Divine services ended with the singing of Many Years to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, Metropolitan Jonah and Metropolitan Hilarion. The celebration then continued at a fraternal trapeza.