On Thursday, July 7, 2016, the feast day of the Nativity of St John, the Forerunner of Christ, at the church dedicated to the saint in Brooklyn, NY, a 20 th anniversary of the episcopal consecration of His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada was celebrated.
Concelebrating with Vladyka Gabriel were His Grace Bishop Jerome (Shaw) (retired); Protopriest Alexander Belya, Rector of the church and Dean of the New York Deanery of the Eastern American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia; Archimandrite Luke (Murianka), Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery and Dean of Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY; Protopriest George Kallaur, Rector of the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God “Unexpected Joy” in Staten Island, NY; Protopriest Petro Sgoba of the same parish; Protopriest Vasily Yurin, Rector of St Basil the Great Church in Irshava (Mukashevsk Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church); Priest Vasily Kirichuk, Rector of the Chuda Archangel Mikhail Church in the town of Mosty (Rovensk Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Churhc); Protopriest Vasily Raskovsky of the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady “of the Sign” in New York; Hieromonk Photius (Oulanov) of Intercession Church in Glen Cove, NY; Priest Valery Trukhon of the Church of the Epiphany of the Lord in Minsk, Belarus (Belarussian Orthodox Church); Protodeacon Nicolas Mokhoff of the Synodal Cathedral; Protodeacon Vasily Milonow of Holy Virgin Protection Church in Ottawa, ON, Canada, and Deacon Rostislav Zadorozhny of the Brooklyn church.
Fr Alexander noted during the greeting of the hierarch before the service that it is a great honor and joy for all the parishioners and personally for himself that Vladyka Gabriel was able to mark such an important holiday in Brooklyn.
The festive service began as Vladyka Gabriel was vested not in the expected gold-hued vestments in the center of the church, but in a new red set. This was a gift to the hierarch by his fellow seminarian Fr George Kallaur and Fr Alexander Belya.
The church’s choir sang magnificently, and the increasing adornment of the church was notable. A new altar table was purchased in time for Pascha, and a splendid gilded tabernacle was purchased by Pentecost, and most recently a set of ripidy and a cross erected behind the altar table.
At the end of service, Vladyka Gabriel addressed the worshipers with a sermon on the topic of the feast day: “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11 ) said the Lord Savior Himself. The archpastor continued, saying that the greatness of John the Forerunner is that “he earned the honor of coming before the Person of the Messiah and prepare mankind, through repentance, to receive Him.”
He was also worthy of the honor of baptizing Christ, “to fulfill all righteousness.” Vladyka Gabriel expressed the hope that through the prayerful intercession of St John the Baptist himself, all would abstain from sin to the extent they were able. But if anyone has faults, weaknesses or negligence, if a person stumbles or falls, he must remember that repentance is always an option, a great gift from God which was declaimed by John the Baptist.
Fr Alexander then congratulated Archbishop Gabriel on the 20 th anniversary of his consecration, wishing him many more years of service. He noted that New York was where Vladyka Gabriel served for many years, and it was a joy that Vladyka was marking his anniversary in this New York church. A bouquet of roses was then presented to Vladyka Gabriel as a gift from all those in attendance.
Bishop Jerome then offered words of warmth to His Eminence.
Archbishop Gabriel took the opportunity during the festive trapeza that followed to recall his life’s path, much of which was bound to New York. Fr Luke congratulated Vladyka Gabriel and noted that he could not refuse to attend this celebration, since he participated in his episcopal consecration, which took place at his monastery, and recalled that he participated in the 10th anniversary of his consecration.