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DIOCESE OF SAN FRANCISCO AND WESTERN AMERICA: September 20, 2007
The "Reigning" Icon of the Mother of God Is Brought By Metropolitan Onufry and the Official Delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate and Sretensky Choir to the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" in San Francisco

On Thursday, September 13, 2007, the "Reigning" Icon of the Mother of God was brought to San Francisco by the official delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and the singers of Sretensky Stavropighial Monastery Choir of Moscow. The official delegation, headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Onufry of Chernovitsk and Bukovino includes His Eminence Archbishop Evgeny of Verey, the President of the Education Committee of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Rector of the Moscow Theological Schools; Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), Prior of Sretensky Monastery; and Protopriest Vladislav Tsypin, Professor of Moscow Theological Academy. The miracle-working Icon was greeted at San Francisco International Airport by His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America and the Consul General of the Russian Federation in San Francisco, VN Vinokurov.

In the afternoon, the members of the delegation visited the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow," where they venerated the uncorrupt relics of St John (Maximovich) and Shanghai and San Francisco. That evening, the Treasurer of the Western American Diocese, Protopriest Sergei Kotar hosted a reception for the delegation at his home. The following morning, after breakfast at the home of the Dean of the Cathedral, Protopriest Peter Perekrestov, the visitors went to St John's Orthodox Academy, then went sightseeing. That evening, Sretensky Choir gave a concert at Davies Symphony Hall.

On the evening of September 15, and on Sunday, September 16, celebrations were held at the Cathedral on the reestablishment of the fullness of brotherly communion between the two parts of the Local Russian Orthodox Church. On Saturday, the clergy and worshipers welcomed the "Reigning" Icon of the Mother of God. A moleben to the Most-Holy Theotokos and St John was performed before two great holy items of the Russian Orthodox Church: the miracle-working Icon and the uncorrupt relics of St John. The service was led by Metropolitan Onufry, Archbishop Kyrill and Archbishop Evgeny.

During all-night vigil, served for the following Sunday and the "Reigning" Icon, the Cathedral and Sretensky Choirs both sang. The service ended at 11 pm.

On Sunday, Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Metropolitan Onufry; Archbishop Kyrill; Archbishop Evgeny; Archimandrite Tikhon; Protopriest Vladislav and a multitude of clergymen of the Diocese of San Francisco and Western America. Metropolitan Onufry delivered a sermon in both Russian and English on the main law of Christianity, love. His Eminence stressed that today's celebration of the reestablishment of unity within the Local Russian Orthodox Church is the fruit of love, defeat over the devil and a result of the prayers of the Holy New Martyrs and our ancestors, who suffered and grieved over our ecclesiastical division. Vladyka Onufry also pointed out that the "Reigning" Icon, before which all prayed that day, has left Russia now for only the first time, and among the first parishes She visited were those of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. This is a special sign of mercy and good will by the Most-Pure Virgin, because it is not mortals but the Mother of God Herself Who decides where to go and whom to visit. After Divine Liturgy, the Cathedral parish organized a festive trapeza in honor of the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and the singers of Sretensky Choir. Among the honored guests at the event was Mr Vinokurov and the Rector of St Nicholas Cathedral (Moscow Patriarchate) in San Francisco, Archimandrite Pavel (Fokine).

At 4 pm, a moleben was performed at the Cathedral before the Icon, along with an akathist to the Mother of God.

On this joyous Sunday, the words of the reading from the Epistle expressed the essence of the day's celebration: "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." For the faithful flock of the Russian Church Abroad, these days of celebrating unity within the Church and the visit of the "Reigning" Icon of the Mother of God were days of joy and consolation, and for those who hesitated or doubted, days of confirmation.

That evening, the hierarchs of the one Russian Orthodox Church, the members of the official delegation and Sretensky Choir were honored at the Russian Consulate.

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