Dear brothers and sisters,
It was with great joy that we greeted the news of the election of His Grace, Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, as First-Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and as Metropolitan of New-York and Eastern America.
At the very beginning of the life of our Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia – then known as the Russian Church in Exile – the presidency of His Eminence, Metropolitan Anthony of Kiev and Galych initiated a glorious succession of men of deep faith, asceticism and prayer as First-Hierarchs of the Church in the diaspora.
During the rule of the ever-memorable Metropolitans Anthony, Anastasy, Philaret, Vitaly, Lavr and Hilarion, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia has been a defender of sacred Tradition and of the freedom of the Church, and – as a bastion of holiness – has produced men and women of great sanctity, some of whom we look to as the saints of tomorrow, yet to be glorified by the Church, though already glorified by God.
Even as the godless Soviets sought to control and destroy the much-suffering Church in the Soviet Union, the First-Hierarchs of the exiled Church led and defended free Church life in exile, and prayed fervently for those who suffered under atheist Bolshevism. But, such was God’s sovereign-will, that there was no short-lived communist junta and the hoped-for return from exile – no going home, and no freedom for the Church behind the Iron Curtain for nigh on seventy years.
As exiles became reconciled to life in the new lands in which they had settled, and as the Holy Synod moved from Constantinople to Sremski Karlovtsi, and thence to Vienna, Munich and New York, our Church Abroad settled, grew and flourished in the Americas, Europe and Australasia, with non-Slav faithful finding Orthodox Christianity in its temples and communities.
As the children of the successive waves of exiles shared their Orthodox Christian Faith and welcomed local peoples, our Church grew and developed, no longer an ethnic and predominantly Slavic Church of exiles, but a multi-national, multi-lingual and multi-cultural Church embracing people of all nations, yet cherishing the enduring spiritual inheritance and legacy of Holy Rus’.
This is wonderfully illustrated by the make-up of our own parish, with its mixture of peoples, languages and nationalities, and this is very much the inheritance that Vladika Nicholas understands as the identity of our beloved ROCOR.
Just over a hundred years after the beginning of organised Church life in the diaspora, we shall soon hear his name, as Metropolitan and First-Hierarch, knowing that with his integrity and Faith, he will develop, defend and preserve the legacy that will be handed over to him when he is enthroned this coming Sunday.
We may be joyfully confident that his rule as First-Hierarch of our Church will be one in which the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia will spiritually prosper in holiness and truth, and in which the rights and freedoms of our Church will be defended and preserved.
We pray for God’s blessing upon Bishop Nicholas, that his rule may be long, spiritually-fruitful and blessed.
Many years to His Grace, and glory to God!
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark