Church life at St John Cathedral in Washington, DC

The end of March and the beginning of April, 2024, turned out to be a period filled with a number of joyful events in the spiritual life of St John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, DC. On March 30, the Sitka Icon of the Mother of God visited the parish for the first time, and on Saturday, April 13, His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, came to officiate the divine services of the 4th Sunday of Great Lent. The Metropolitan brought with him the revered Harbin Icon of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow," wonder-working icon that is kept in the lower St Sergius Chapel in the Synodal Headquarters in New York City.

On Saturday, April 13, Metropolitan Nicholas officiated at all-night vigil in the cathedral. The clergy of the cathedral served alongside the First Hierarch. They were joined by Archpriest Alexander Kuznetsov. A year ago, Fr Alexander was forced to move to the United States from Ukraine, where for 20 years he served in the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onouphry. During his priesthood, Fr Alexander founded four parishes, the last parish consecrated in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs. He settled in the Greater Washington area, where his cousin lives, who took him in. Fr Alexander modestly visited the cathedral in the capital, without any pretense. During Metropolitan Nicholas’ visit to Washington, a conversation took place with Fr Alexander. Having made sure that his ordination and release letters were in order, the Metropolitan gave him the blessing to serve in St John the Baptist Cathedral.

It should be noted that Deacon Andrew Allen, who with his Matushka Elizabeth recently moved to Greater Washington from Texas for work, was also given a blessing to serve at the cathedral.

On Sunday morning, April 14, a solemn greeting of the First Hierarch took place, after which Divine Liturgy began. Receiving Christ’s Holy Mysteries were 170 people.

That evening, worshipers again gathered in the church to take part in the parish’s first Holy Unction service of the year, in Slavonic. Two hundred people took part in the first Unction.

On Monday evening, the second, English-language, Unction took place, attended by over 100 people. The Metropolitan intended to officiate this service, as well, but this was prevented by the sad news that everyone’s beloved Protodeacon Joseph Jarostchuk had reposed in Boston. Metropolitan Nicholas considered it his duty to lead his funeral service in Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY. Early Monday morning, the Metropolitan departed for the “Diasporan Lavra,” where he safely arrived an hour and a half before the funeral service for Fr Joseph.

To the joy of Orthodox Washingtonians, the First Hierarch instructed that the Harbin Icon of the Mother of God remain in Washington for another week. Thus, parishioners will be able to celebrate the fifth Saturday of Great Lent – the Laudation of the Most Holy Theotokos – and the memory of St Mary of Egypt in the presence of this miraculous icon.

We give thanks to the Lord for His great mercy to us sinners of Washington!


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