On Saturday, August 21st, and Sunday, August 22nd, our modest church in Baltimore received prominent guests, joyously celebrating its feast day of the Transfiguration of our Lord. The church glittered in its festive white garments, magnificently adorned with a multitude of beautiful and fragrant flowers.
At 1:00 on Saturday, Archimandrite Athanasy (Mastalsky) arrived from Philadelphia, bringing with him the holy Myrrh-streaming Icon of Saint Anna, mother of the Holy Theotokos. Father Athanasy and our rector, Father Ion Barbus, served a moleben with akathist before the miraculous Icon, after which the faithful venerated the open Icon, which emitted the fragrance of myrrh, and received small pieces of cotton dipped in myrrh and bottles of holy oil from the Icon, while Father Athanasy told us of recent miracles from the Icon. The holy Icon and Father Athanasy remained with us until the evening, in order to attend the vigil.
The Saturday vigil at our church was served by His Eminence Bishop Jerome of Manhattan, who arrived from New York together with Protodeacon Dimitri Temidis. Vladyka came out to serve the polyeleon together with Father Athanasy and Father Ion. Our modest choir enthusiastically sang its usual monastic chants, creating an especially prayerful atmosphere in the church. The reverend protodeacon adorned the service with his wonderfully powerful voice, and also masterfully directed our altar boys in all the nuances of a bishop’s service. After the service Father Athanasy and the holy Myrrh-streaming Icon returned to Philadelphia.
On Sunday morning Father Vasily Rachovsky, a cleric of the Washington Cathedral, who serves in our church whenever our rector is away, joined Father Ion in welcoming Bishop Jerome. During the small entrance at the liturgy, Bishop Jerome elevated Father Ion to the rank of protopriest. Everyone enthusiastically sang “axios” (worthy) to Father Ion. At the end of the liturgy Vladyka gave a moving homily on the significance of the Transfiguration in the life of every Orthodox Christian, while Father Dimitri read the Synodal decree on the awarding of Father Ion Barbus with the rank of protopriest for his earnest service to the Church of Christ.
After the liturgy, through the caring efforts of Matushka Viorica Barbus and our sisterhood, our cherished guests and all the faithful were offered an abundant and delicious Lenten lunch. During the meal, which took place in a cordial and friendly atmosphere, the parishioners were able to converse informally with Bishop Jerome and were quite impressed by his kindly manner towards everyone. The parishioners also congratulated their rector, the now protopriest Ion, upon his quite-merited promotion.
We warmly thank dear Bishop Jerome and the reverend protodeacon Dimitri for their visit and festive service in our church. The joy of this feast has left an indelible impression upon the hearts of all the faithful. “Eis polla eti despota!” (Many years, Vladyka!)