This past Sunday, especially joyous events took place in the parish of St John the Baptist in the nation's capital: Deacon John Johnson was ordained to the priesthood, Subdeacon Alexander Reznikoff was ordained to the deaconate, and our parishioner Victor Klimenko was tonsured a reader.
The ordinations were performed by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, in the presence of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, the Indicator of the Path for the Russian Diaspora.
At 9:30 am on the Sunday of the Cross, the clergy and parishioners of the Cathedral participated in the ceremonial meeting of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, principal celebrant of the Divine Liturgy. Concelebrating were Parish Rector Protopriest Victor Potapov, Protopriest Igor Hrebinka, and Protopriest Theodore Shevtzov, as well as Protodeacon Leonid Mickle, Deacon John Cavin, Deacon Nicholas Olhovsky, and Deacon John Johnson.
During the Sixth Hour, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus tonsured Victor Klimenko a reader.
Following the Great Entrance, Subdeacon John Johnson was escorted to the center of the Church, where he stood with the Aer covering his head. With the proclamations “Command!” [singular], “Command!” [plural], and “Command Very-most-reverend Master!” Fr. John was brought through the Royal Doors into the Altar. He made a full prostration before the Altar Table and before Metropolitan Laurus. Protopriest Victor Potapov then led the one being ordained around the altar table thrice, while the clergy and choir sang the appropriate irmosi. Thereafter, while the candidate for ordination stood on his knees, Kyrie Eleison was slowly chanted, as Vladyka Metropolitan, with his hands upon the candidate's head, read the prayers of ordination. Thereafter the new priest was vested in his priestly vestments: the epitrachilion [stole], zone [belt], and phelonion. A priest's silver pectoral Cross was placed around his neck, and he was handed a Service Book to symbolize that the newly-ordained priest had the authority to perform Divine Services. As he granted each vestment to the newly-ordained priest, the Hierarch announced “Axios!” [He is worthy!] That was chanted thrice, first by the clergy in the Altar, and then by the parish choir. Finally, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus brought the newly-ordained priest out onto the ambo, and presented him to the people for one final “Axios!”
After the Eucharistic Canon, the ordination of Subdeacon Alexander Reznikoff to the deaconate proceeded in similar manner.
At the appointed time His Eminence delivered a short but powerful sermon dedicated to the meaning of the Holy Cross of Christ. He said in part:
“When we sing, 'Before Thy Cross, we bow down O Master,' something fiery courses through all of our joints. That marvelous stream, something like an electrical current, is our faith, something that is called the Divine Spark within our souls. The Cross is the banner, the standard, of God's love for fallen man, the banner of our salvation.
"Let us love our Lord Jesus Christ and His Cross. Through the power of the Cross, let us drive out from us enemies visible and invisible, and thus let us go follow the Lord, so that we might become heirs to those promised blessings which, through His Cross and Passion, He granted us. Amen.”
At the conclusion of the service, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus congratulated the new clergymen and reader. He reminded them of their important responsibilities, and invoked God's blessings upon them. Protodeacon Leonid Mickle sang “Many Years!” to all three. Vladyka directed that Fr John distribute the antidoron, so that everyone in attendance might have the opportunity to approach and congratulate him.
Through the efforts of the Sisterhood under the direction of Marina Petrovna Vernigora, a bountiful festal meal was served. After the meal, all of the parishioners and a multitude of guests approached the new priest for his blessing.
The same evening, the newly-ordained clergy served their first vespers on their own; afterwards, a reception in their honor was held in the Parish Hall.
Priest John Johnson is 35 years of age, and is of American ancestry. He became Orthodox in 1991. He served as a deacon for 1½ years in the Cathedral Church of St John the Baptist. He and his matushka Michaela have two children and are expecting another addition to the family.
Deacon Alexander Reznikoff was born 31 years ago in Brisbane, Australia. He is married to the servant of God Sophia, the daughter of Protopriest Victor Potapov, rector of the Cathedral Church of St John the Baptist in Washington DC. Fr Alexander and Sophia are expecting a child in May.
Let us wish them all God's help and every success in their service to the Church.
Protopriest Victor Potapov