On Monday the 7th of January 2019, the Great Feast of the Nativity according to the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, festal services were held in New York City’s Russian Orthodox Synodal Cathedral of the Sign. Since the St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Pro-Cathedral burned down in 2016, New York City’s Serbian Orthodox community prayerfully celebrated Christ’s Nativity for a third time in the Russian Cathedral of the Sign. His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) celebrated Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral. Concelebrating with the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad were Their Graces, Bishop Irinej of Eastern America of the Serbian Orthodox Church and Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, ROCOR Eastern American Diocesan vicar.
The hierarchs were joined by: Protopresbyter Andrei Sommer (Cathedral of the Sign senior priest), Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Dr. Zivojin Jakovljevic (Dean of the St Sava Cathedral), Abbot Tikhon (Gayfudinov; Rector of Holy Protection Skete in Buena, NJ), Archpriest Edward Chervinsky, Protodeacon Nicolas Mokhoff and Deacon Pavel Roudenko (Cathedral of the Sign clerics), and Protodeacons Milos Zdralic and Dr. Jovan Anicic (Serbian Orthodox diocesan clerics).
Despite its being a weekday, the church was full of worshippers for the radiant feast: Russians, Ukrainians, Americans, Serbs and many other nationalities. Singing prayerfully at the service was the expanded Synodal Choir under the direction of conductor Peter Fekula.
Two priest confessed the parishioners – one Russian and one Serbian – and a majority of the faithful communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
At the conclusion of the Liturgy, Abbot Tikhon read aloud the Nativity Epistle of Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow and All Russia.
Metropolitan Hilarion greeted Bishops Irinej and Nicholas, congratulating the clergy and faithful with the Feast of Christ’s Nativity and expressing his joy at Orthodox Serbs and Russians praying together on this holy day.
Bishop Irinej expressed his gratitude to the clergy and faithful of the Russian Church Abroad for the love that that Serbian clergy and faithful had felt for the past three years, since they lost their diocesan cathedral.
"And despite the fact that we do not have a place of our own, we have you, your love, this cathedral," said Bishop Irinej. "We hope that, once we have a roof above our heads once more – our restored cathedral – we will be glad to pray there and to commemorate this family that you have become for us, and to remember the friends that we have gained in the clergy and faithful of the Russian Church Abroad."
"Thank you for keeping the Faith, for preserving your national identity and the values of Russian society, despite finding yourselves so far from your historic homeland."
The Russian Cathedral Sisterhood and Serbian Cathedral Circle of Serbian Sisters organized a festal luncheon for the clergy, parishioners, and visitors, during which filial interaction continued. In the words of Bishop Irinej: “One Faith, one Church, one Family!”