19th OCTOBER, 2018: His Grace Bishop Irenei of Richmond and Western Europe, presently in California, received The Most Blessed Tikhon, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) at the Cathedral of the Mother of God ‘Joy of All Who Sorrow’ in San Francisco. Welcoming the First Hierarch of the OCA on behalf of His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, Bishop Irenei greeted him as part of the Primate’s private pilgrimage that included visiting the Diocesan Cathedral of the ROCOR’s Western American Diocese, in order to venerate the incorrupt relics of St John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco.
His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon was accompanied by The Most Reverend Benjamin, Archbishop of San Francisco and the West (OCA), together with Archbishop Benjamin’s auxiliary, The Right Reverend Daniel, Bishop of Santa Rosa. Joining them on their pilgrimage was His Eminence Abel, Archbishop of Lyublinsk and Kholm, of the Orthodox Church of Poland.
Greeting Metropolitan Tikhon at the entrance to the Cathedral were clergy and pupils of the Saint John of San Francisco Orthodox Academy — an Orthodox K-12 school operated on the Cathedral grounds, and where Bishop Irenei for some time served as Principal. The children welcomed the OCA’s First Hierarch as an honoured guest, with flowers and singing. A moleben before the relics of St John was then served by Archpriest Philip Hollywell and Priest Sergei Kiryukhin (both clerics who teach at the Academy), with Archdeacon Peter (Karakozoff) of the Cathedral. The singing of the entire service was done by the children of the school.
At the end of the moleben, His Grace Bishop Irenei, in welcoming the distinguished pilgrims, spoke of St John of San Francisco’s significance to the faithful of the whole world; and especially of his ability to inspire hierarchs and the faithful to serve God in diligence and piety with their whole lives. His Grace wished that everyone present would receive strength through St John to persevere in his respective calling and to ‘finish the course’ set before him (cf. 2 Timothy 4.7) by our Lord Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father.
In a time of tensions in various parts of the world, all those present felt the blessing of praying in unity, for the peace of the whole world, for the stability of the faithful, and for the unity of the Church.
Photos credit: Mrs Helen Nowak. Some text from the website of the W. American Diocese (modified).