On November 20, the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, celebrations dedicated to the 120th anniversary of the great consecration of St. Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral by St. Tikhon (Bellavin) took place in New York City. On the same day, the fullness of the Russian Orthodox Church prayerfully honored the birthday of their Primate, His Holiness Kyrill, Patriarch of Moscow & All Russia.
On Saturday evening, All-Night Vigil was served in the cathedral. At the Polyeleos, for the veneration of believers, an icon was presented of St. Tikhon and the Holy Hieromartyr Protopresbyter Alexander Khotovitsky, painted by master St. Petersburg iconographer Nadezhda Nestorchuk specifically for the occasion, containing within it part of the lid from the reliquary of the original altar table with the original signature of Bishop Tikhon of the Aleutian Islands & North America dated November 23, 1902.
At the invitation of the Interim Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Bishop Matthew of Sourozh, and with the blessing of His Holiness, Patriarch Kyrill, the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Nicholas of Eastern America & New York, celebrated Divine Liturgy.
Concelebrating with His Eminence was a host of clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA and the Russian Church Abroad, as well as representatives of Local Churches: cathedral rector and chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA Archpriest Igor Vyzhanov, Archimandrite Jeremy (Davis; protosyngellos of the Antiochian Archdiocese in North America), Archpriest Alexander Rentel (chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America), Archpriest George Konyev (rector of Three Saints Church in Garfield, NJ), and Archpriest Andrei Sommer (dean of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City). Archpriest Živojin Jakovljević, rector of St. Sava Serbian Cathedral in New York City, arrived toward the end of the service.
Praying at the service were numerous parishioners and guests of the parish, as well as the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations V.A. Nebenzya and Deputy Permanent Representative for Economic, Administrative & Budgetary Affairs D.S. Chumakov. The liturgical hymns were sung by the hierarchal choir under the direction of conductor Ksenia Afanasyeva.
During the Liturgy after his tonsure as reader and ordination as a subdeacon, Metropolitan Nicholas ordained Alexey Ozerov, altar server of Three Saints Church in Garfield, to the holy diaconate.
At the Augmented Litany, special thanksgiving petitions were proclaimed for His Holiness, Patriarch Kyrill, and for St. Nicholas Cathedral, after which Metropolitan Nicholas offered up a prayer from the rite of the consecration of a church. After Communion of Christ’s Holy Mysteries, the clergy served a short moleben to the Holy Hierarch Tikhon, Patriarch of All Russia.
At the end of the service, Fr. Igor Vyzhanov read aloud the greetings from His Holiness, Patriarch Kyrill, to the participants of the celebration of the 120th anniversary of the great consecration of the cathedral.
Metropolitan Nicholas, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, addressed the faithful with an address dedicated to the festal event, in which he said in part:
"A great event for us today is the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in this majestic Patriarchal Cathedral, with which we worthily honored both this little Pascha of Christ and the milestone date of the 120th anniversary of the great consecration of this cathedral. Its history is illuminated by the grace-filled deeds, service, and tears of the Holy Hierarch Tikhon, the illustrious confessor and Patriarch of All Russia, who still continues to enjoy the fervent veneration of all Orthodox in the United States of America; the Holy Hierarch Raphael, Bishop of Brooklyn, a great friend of our people and a close assistant to the future Patriarch, who pastorally laid down his life for the wellbeing and prosperity of the Syro-Arab mission in North America; Protopresbyter Alexander Khotovitsky, the great missionary and new martyr, who, together with the righteous Alexis Toth, worked hard for the conversion of Carpathian Rusyns from the Unia to Holy Orthodoxy. May their apostolic zeal be a constant model for us in that service ‘in a strange land’ (Ps. 136:4), to which we are called!
"…Together with fervent prayers for the restoration of peace, we prayed for the health of His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill, who, 19 years ago, while Metropolitan of Smolensk & Kaliningrad, performed the consecration of this cathedral after its renovation. Prayerfully commemorating him today, we ask the Lord beseech Heavenly help in his ministry to His Holiness."
On behalf of Bishop Matthew, the clergy and parishioners of the cathedral, Fr. Igor Vyzhanov addressed Metropolitan Nicholas with a word of gratitude for the joy of prayerful communion and, in memory of the celebration of the divine service, presented him with a gift of fabric for a metropolitan’s episcopal mantle. The rector also especially greeted the representatives in the holy order of the Antiochian, Serbian, and American Churches, recalling that during the time of St. Tikhon he united under his omophorion all the Orthodox of North America. In memory of their participation in the celebration, Fr. Igor presented them with an icon of the holy builders of the cathedral – the Holy Hierarch Tikhon and Hieromartyr Protopresbyter Alexander Khotovitsky.
The divine service ended with the Polychronion intoned to His Holiness, Patriarch Kyrill, the clergy, benefactors and parishioners of St. Nicholas Cathedral.
Interaction between the clergy and parishioners continued at a fraternal meal prepared by Matushka Alla Vyzhanova and the cathedral sisterhood.