On May 14, 2017, the Fifth Sunday of Pascha, the feast of the Samaritan Woman, His Eminence Metropolitan Feofan of Kazan and Tatarstan celebrated Divine Liturgy at Kazan Icon of the Mother of God Monastery in Kazan, Russia.
The ruling bishop was joined by the monastery’s Prior, Hegumen Mark (Vilensky) and his monks of priestly rank.
The singing was performed by two choirs: the monastery choir under Denis Rogov and a mixed choir under Nun Amvrosia (Kocherezhkina). After the reading of the Gospel, Metropolitan Feofan delivered a sermon.
After the service, the head of the Tatarstan Metropoliate welcomed a clergyman of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, Protopriest Andrei Sommer, Senior Priest of the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady “of the Sign” in New York, Vice President of the Synodal Youth Department. Fr Andrei is accompanying the travels of a reliquary of Holy Grand Duchess Elizavbeth and Nun Barbara, which arrived in Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, on May 12.
The Primate of the Church whence comes our guest is Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York. We have great love for him and were glad to see him last year during the celebration of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. I am happy, dear Father, that by his blessing you have brought the holy relics of St Elizabeth to our city of Kazan.
The place where we now stand is connected with the earthly life of this holy woman. When she once visited Kazan, she was amazed at the grandeur of our cathedral. But the cavern church was in a state of disrepair, and she took it upon herself to adorn it—the site is precisely where the Kazan Icon was discovered. Through her donations and direct participation, the cave church was remodeled. So the Holy Martyr Elizabeth even during her life on earth met with the Queen of Heaven in the form of Her Kazan image.
I would like to express my profound gratitude first of all to the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Hilarion, and to all the archpastors and pastors. Thank God, we are now a united Church and a united people, regardless of whether we live on Russian soil or far from it, scattered like good seeds. Through the Russian soul, this seed of Orthodox Christianity has fallen upon the hearts of many far from Russia, both Christian and non-Christian. We know that often converts to Orthodoxy become not only good children of the Church, but even pastors and archpastors of the Church.
Dear Father Andre: The main thing is our unity in faith and love, without which we cannot call ourselves Christian. We face many challenges in today’s world, one the most important of which is the abandonment of God, the rejection of faith, delegating faith to the margins. We witness this everywhere, and the roots of it is the devil himself, the hater of God. Our main goal is unity in faith and witness in Christ.”
As a memento for his visit, Vladyka Feofan blessed Fr Andrei with the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God and gave him a book on the history of the remarkable image.
Fr Andrei thanked His Eminence and gave him a painted icon of St Elizabeth and St Barbara containing a portion of their relics.
The service concluded with the singing of Many Years to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York.