On the weekend of December 11-12, commemorating the Martyr Paramon and the 370 martyrs with him, at the invitation of cathedral rector Mitred Archpriest Serge Lukianov, the seminary choir traveled to St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Howell (Lakewood) NJ to sing the responses to the Divine Services. Also present during the Divine Services was the miracle-working Icon of the Mother of God; the Softener of Evil Hearts.
Seminary Dean Nicolas Schidlovsky led the delegation in the absence of His Grace Bishop Luke of Syracuse and Seminary Rector, who was unable to attend. As a result, His Eminence, Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada traveled to Howell, NJ to lead the Divine Services during the weekend. The choir sang the responses for both the Hierarchal All-Night Vigil and Divine Liturgy under the direction of Deacon Nicholas Kotar, Seminary Director of Choral Programs.
At the conclusion of Saturday’s All Night Vigil, the parish sisterhood hosted a lenten meal in the lower hall beneath the cathedral, which also houses the parish bookstore and Nevsky Café.
On Sunday morning, the Seminary choir sang the responses at the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy celebrated by His Eminence, Archbishop Gabriel. The singers included Priest Ephraim Willmarth, Asst. Dean and Director of Admissions, Brother Marko Pranic, 1st Yr MDiv and seminary teaching fellow, Constantine Whytock, 3rd yr BTh, Alexei Orloff, 2nd Yr BTh, Leo Grabowski, 2nd Yr MDiv, Rdr. Nicholas Pavuk, 2nd Yr BTh, Rdr. Oleg Cruz, 3rd Yr BTh, Rdr. Yevgraf Jakimowicz, 2nd Yr BTh, Rdr. John Keller, 4th Yr BTh, and Andrey Slivin, 2nd Yr BTh. Also joining in the delegation from the seminary were Deacon Michael Pavuk, Director of Development, Stefan Lukianov, 3rd Yr BTh, Rdr. Luke Kendrat, 1st Yr BTh, and Gabriel Blake, 1st Yr BTh.
At the conclusion of the Divine Services, Fr. Serge gave an impassioned speech regarding the faithful’s love and support of the Seminary, so as to ensure the ongoing training of young clergy for future service to the Holy Orthodox Church. Fr Serge then presented an Icon of St Alexander Nevsky to Sergei, the guardian of the Miraculous Icon of the Mother of God in gratitude for the blessing of the icon’s visit to the parish. Next, he presented Dean Nicolas with a generous check for $22,000.00. Fr Serge then explained that $14,000.00 of this total came from donations to the parish’s benevolent fund in memory of his late brother, Protodeacon Nicholas Lukianov, who fell asleep in the Lord recently on the Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross - September 14/27, 2021. Our entire Seminary delegation was – once again - overwhelmed by the parish’s profound and consistent generosity.
A festive trapeza was held in the lower hall of the cathedral, during which Fr Serge presented each attendee from Holy Trinity Seminary with gifts.
This annual tradition of traveling to St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral actually began in mid-December of 2017, when the seminary’s entire student body (undergraduates only at that time) and members of the administration traveled to Lakewood to mark the occasion of the 90th birthday of the late Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov, of blessed memory. On that momentous occasion, each seminarian received from Fr Valery himself an autographed copy of his book titled, Blessed Pastorship.
To conclude yet another joyous visit to Lakewood, a Lytia was served for Protopresbyter Valery and Protodeacon Nicholas at Fr Valery’s grave located behind the cathedral. May the Good Lord continue to bless Fr Serge, the clergy, and the members of the parish for their warmth, hospitality and generosity, and may Fr Valery’s and Fr. Nicholas’ Memories be Eternal!