24 March 2013 • Three Hierarchs Chapel
At the conclusion of a cool and sunny spring Sunday, joyous bells on the campus of St. Vladimir's Seminary summoned worshipers to the 43rd Annual Pan–Orthodox Vespers, sponsored by the Westchester Orthodox Clergy Fellowship. His Grace The Right Rev. Michael, bishop of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, Orthodox Church in America (OCA) presided over the Vespers and served as homilist. The Very Rev. Dr. Nicholas Pilavas, rector of Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church in Yonkers and the president of the Fellowship, led the group of clergy that included Three Hierarchs Chapel priests as well as those from surrounding parishes.
The Vespers drew Orthodox Christians from Westchester's towns to mark the "Sunday of Orthodoxy," a feast that memorializes the final defeat of iconoclasm and the restoration of icons in the Church. In this case, the Vespers also heralded the liturgical start of the Feast of the Annunciation. "It's a beautiful and unusual occurrence," noted Bishop Michael, "that we celebrate the Sunday of Orthodoxy and the Vespers for the Feast of the Annunciation on the same evening." Chapel Choir Director Hierodeacon Herman (Majkrzak) led the musicians in songs drawn from both Byzantine and Slavic hymnography, and the choir offered responses in Greek, English, Russian, Arabic and Romanian, honoring the variety of traditions represented by those serving and attending.
"The Fathers declared that God has taken flesh and we can represent Him in color and light, on wood and canvas," said Bishop Michael in his homily. "Yet do we love to be in our
churches with these beautiful icons, or do we take this for granted? My prayer is that the theology we have professed tonight will spin off into action, and that people will see in us the Faith that established the universe." After Fr. Nicholas and The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, the Seminary's dean, greeted the visitors, Special Events Coordinator Tatiana Penkrat hosted a reception for the guests downstairs in the Kunett Auditorium.