American clergy and pilgrims join feast of St. John in his native village in Ukraine

Adamovka, Ukraine, July 5, 2021

Archpriest Gregory Joyce. Photo: Archpriest Gregory Joyce. Photo:     

On Friday, July 2, the feast of St. John the Wonderworker of San Francisco was festively celebrated in his native village of Adamovka, Ukraine, where there is a skete and church consecrated in his honor.

Clergy and pilgrims of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia from America joined the brothers of the Holy Dormition-Svyatogorsk Lavra and its St. John Skete and clergy and pilgrims from throughout Ukraine for the glorious celebration.

The celebrations began with the consecration of a monument to St. John on the eve of his feast, as OrthoChristian reported last week. On the day of the feast, a moleben with the blessing of holy water was served in front of the monument following the early Liturgy. By this time, the whole skete was filled with pilgrims from throughout Ukraine, reports the Lavra website.

The main Liturgy was then celebrated by His Eminence Metropolitan Arseny of Svyatogorsk, the abbot of the Lavra, in the two-story Church of St. John. The church was filled to overflowing, with hundreds of faithful praying outside.

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The Metropolitan was concelebrated by a number of clerics, including Archpriest Gregory Joyce of St. Vladimir’s Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the secretary of the Diocesan Council of the ROCOR Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America, who arrived from the U.S. as an official representative of ROCOR clergy. The Liturgy was celebrated with special solemnity accompanied by three choirs.

Following the reading of the Gospel, Met. Arseny spoke about the meaning and place that St. John occupies in the life of Orthodox Christians around the world.

“We built this two-story church in honor of St. John, remembering that this place was once his native home, where he was born and spent his childhood years. The rooms in the house were filled with icons, which were mostly brought by the boy Misha Maximovitch from the Svyatogorsk Monastery. Here his soul aspired to God, here for the first time he was imbued with the example of the monastic life. This largely determined his future hierarchical life, completely devoted to the service of the Lord and the Church, wherever he was,” the Metropolitan said.

He also noted with joy that the skete’s Church of St. John soon became too small to accommodate the ever-increasing number of pilgrims coming to St. John’s hometown, and now the construction of the Church of the Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God is underway.

Met. Arseny especially noted the presence of Fr. Gregory Joyce, who was representing His Eminence Archbishop Peter of Chicago, who was once the cell attendant of St. John, and Sergei Kalfov, who served as an altar boy in the Seattle church where St. John celebrated his last service and was there on the day that St. John reposed.

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Following the Liturgy, a procession with the skete’s myrrh-streaming icon of St. John was held, circling the church three times.

Then Fr. Gregory spoke, thanking Met. Arseny for the warm welcome and conveying the blessing of Abp. Peter and His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, the First Hierarch of ROCOR. He told the faithful he would convey to the ROCOR flock the fullness of Christian love with which he was received in the homeland of St. John, and the unity that he saw there between the bishop and the flock. Fr. Gregory then gifted Met. Arseny an icon of St. Mardarije of Libertyville.

In response, Met. Arseny presented Fr. Gregory with a set of vestments made at the St. John’s Skete and an jeweled priestly cross.

Sergei Kalfov then spoke about the day that St. John reposed, recalling that the great saint reposed in his father’s arms. He also recalled his previous visit to the skete 12 years ago when he gifted several items of St. John’s to the monastery.

A number of other items were also donated to the skete on Friday, including a medallion consecrated on the relics of St. John, and a sponge with which the saint’s body was wiped, a letter written by Vladyka John with his signature, a leaflet from 1963, issued with the blessing of Vladyka John, a ROCOR gazette from when Vladyka reposed, and memories of St. John in Russian and English.

Then all present were given an icon of St. John, and the public events ended with a meal prepared by the sisters of St. John’s Skete.

An icon of St. John began streaming myrrh on his feast day at the skete in 2017.

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