Eastern American Diocese (ROCOR) – March 2016
On Tuesday, February 16, the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, Protectress of the Russian Diaspora, made her way to North and South Carolinas for a visit that would last almost two weeks. The Dean of the Carolinas & Tennessee, Archpriest Mark Mancuso, accompanied the holy icon as she visited nine parishes during this time.
On her first stop, February 16, the Kursk Root Icon visited Holy Resurrection OCA Mission in North Augusta, SC. She was greeted by the mission’s rector, Priest Alexis Baldwin, and the holy icon was brought into the chapel where Fr. Alexis served a moleben and akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos. Over 25 people attended – which is a large number for this small mission – and, at the end of the service, Fr. Mark delivered a sermon, in which he conveyed the history of the holy Icon and its importance to Orthodox Christians.
On her second stop, Wednesday, February 17, the Kursk Root Icon visited Sts. Cyril & Methodius Churchin Summerville, SC for an evening moleben and akathist to the Mother of God. The holy Icon was greeted by parish rector Archpriest Anastasy Yatrelis and a host of clergy and their families for a meal at his restaurant, Continental Corner. After the meal, the holy Icon was carried in procession to the front of the church, where she was greeted by the clergy and many of the faithful. The moleben and akathist were served by the dean, Fr. Mark, Fr. Anastasy, Priest John Parker (rector of Holy Ascension OCA Church in Mount Pleasant, SC), Deacons Mark Barna (cleric of the same) and George Malanos (Holy Trinity Greek Church in Charleston, SC), and parish Deacon Daniel Gregoire. At the end of the service, the dean delivered a sermon recalling the history and importance of the Kursk Root icon, noting that this was the third time that she had visited the parish, and asked the faithful to contemplate the Righteous Elizabeth’s words to her cousin, the Theotokos, in the Gospel reading, “And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43), applying it to themselves and the intercessions that they should make to the Mother of God. About 200 people were in attendance, and many stayed after the service to pray before the holy icon.
The third stop for the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God was Holy Trinity Greek Church in Augusta, GA for Orthros and Liturgy the morning of Saturday, February 20. Orthros began with the holy Icon in the altar, and then brought out in procession around the inside of the church during the singing of the Great Doxology. At the end of the Doxology, the Icon was placed on an analogion on the solea. The Liturgy was celebrated by Archpriest Vasile Bitere, co-served by Fr. Mark. At the end of the Liturgy, Fr. Vasile said prayers of healing for the infirm while they knelt before the holy Icon. Fr. Mark then gave a sermon about the history of the icon and its importance to Orthodox Christians, and asked all to put their cares before the Mother of God, that she intercede before Christ for them. About 100 people attended and a festal luncheon was served in the parish hall. This was a particularly special day for Fr. Mark, as it was the first time he had celebrated Liturgy in his hometown of Augusta, GA and had the added blessing of bringing the Kursk Root Icon there, as well.
The fourth visit, that same day, was made to the parish of St. Elizabeth the New Martyr in Columbia, SC. At 2:00pm the holy icon was brought in procession from the parish hall to the church by Archpriest Gregory Rogers (rector of St. Barnabas Antiochian Church in Lexington, SC) and was received by the parish rector, Fr. Mark Mancuso. After Fr. Mark blessed the church and people with the Icon, a moleben and akathist were served by Fr. Mark, Fr. Gregory, Archpriest Athanasios Harros (rector of Holy Transfiguration Greek Church in Florence, SC), and parish Deacon Columba Wilson. Nearly 200 faithful attended the service, and the holy Icon stayed in the church through the All-Night Vigil.
The next morning began with a baptism (the daughter of the parish warden, Mr. Joshua Shaw) before the Kursk Root Icon, followed by Hours and Liturgy. After the Gospel, Fr. Mark preached a sermon about how this particular vitiation of the icon to the parish of the Mother of God had many reasons, but also to lead the faithful into Great Lent. About 100 people attended the Liturgy, and many more came after the Liturgy to venerate and pray before the Kursk Root Icon.
The fifth visitation the Kursk Root Icon was to Holy Trinity Greek Cathedral in downtown Columbia. Although the holy Icon arrived over two hours after their Sunday Liturgy was completed, over 200 faithful stayed in church and waited for the Icon to arrive. The holy Icon was received at the front doors of the church by the rector, Alexander Michael Platanis, and taken into the church and placed on an analogion on the solea. Fr. Michael invited Fr. Mark to give a presentation about the Kursk Root Icon and Fr. Mark spoke about the history of the Icon and her importance to the Russian Church, and relayed some of the miracles connected to this holy Icon of the Mother of God. After the presentation, a Paraklesis was served, while all the faithful came up onto the solea to venerate the Icon.
On her sixth stop on Wednesday, February 24, the Kursk Root Icon visited St Nicholas parish in Fletcher, NC. She was greeted by the parish’s rector, Priest Steven Webb, and the holy Icon was brought into the church, where over 85 people were assembled. After Fr. Steven took the holy Icon into the church and blessed the people with it, a moleben and akathist were served by Fr. Mark and Fr. Steven. At the end of the service, the dean gave a sermon recalling the history and importance of the Kursk Root Icon. After the service, a light meal was served in the parish hall.
On Friday, February 26, the Kursk Root Icon visited Holy Trinity Church in Mebane, NC. The holy Icon was brought into the church where over 250 people were assembled. A moleben and akathist were served by parish rector Hieromonk Gabriel (Kvansikov), co-served by Hieromonk Andrew (Winters; cleric of St. Nicholas OCA Mission in Fayetteville, NC). At the end of the service, the dean gave a sermon recalling the history and importance of the Kursk Root Icon. After the akathist, the faithful venerated the holy Icon and prayed before her.
On the morning of Saturday, February 27, the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God made her eighth visitation in the Carolinas. This visit was to Holy Cross OCA Church in High Point, NC. Parish rector Priest Christopher Foley blessed the people with the holy Icon, and the moleben and akathist began. Co-serving with Fr. Christopher was Archpriest Onouphry Keith (pastor emeritus of St. Nicholas Church in Fletcher, NC), and Priest Dragoslav Kosic (rector of St. Basil of Ostrog Serbian Church in Kernersville, NC). Over 200 faithful were in attendance and, after the service, everyone came up to venerate and pray before the holy Icon.
In the early afternoon on February 27, the Kursk Root Icon made her ninth and final stop in the Carolinas at the Reigning Mother of God parish in Charlotte, NC. About 75 of the faithful were waiting outside to greet the holy Icon as she arrived. Parish rector Archpriest Alexander Logunov and Priest Alexander Stepanenko (parish cleric) received the holy Icon and took her into the church, where she was met by His Grace, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, guardian of the Kursk Root Icon. A moleben and akathist were served, and the holy Icon remained in the church through the All-Night Vigil. The next morning, a hierarchical Liturgy was celebrated by Bishop Nicholas, co-served by Fr. Alexander and parish Deacon Ioann Makarov. A festal luncheon was held afterward in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the parish.
Archpriest Mark Mancuso