It was a long awaited event that the sisters at St Elizabeth Skete have been planning for several months. On July 18th, 2012 on the feast of the New Martyrs Grand Duchess Elizabeth and Nun Barbara the sisters not only celebrated 25 years of the existence of the small community of nuns, but also the elevation of Mother Elizabeth to the rank of Abbess.Click here to see the new website of St. Elizabeth Skete
The event started at 5:00 pm on the evening of Tuesday July 17th with the All-Night Vigil. As the remodeling of the small house chapel was not complete, several tents were set up in the garden amidst the flowers for outdoor services. Bishop Gabriel presided together with Archimandrite Luke, the sisters' spiritual father and also Father Vladimir Tsurikov the Skete's serving priest. They were joined by Father Chad Williams from Richmond Maine and Father Gabriel from Holy Trinity Monastery. Protodeacon Nicholai Olhovsky, Deacon Andrew Doubleday and Deacon Ephraim Willmarth lead the service, which was in both Slavonic and English.
The next morning services started with the Blessing of the Waters at 8:00 am, followed by Divine Liturgy at 9:00 am. Bishop Gabriel arrived and the Hours were read while the Bishop was vested. The dark grey menacing clouds dispersed after dropping a few sprinkles of rain, and the sun began to shine brilliantly. The choir consisted of Mother Elisabeth, Mother Theodora, Matushka Cindy Williams from Maine, all under the direction of Matushka Anna Tsurikov.
During the Small Entrance, Protodeacon Nicholai led Mother Elisabeth from the choir to the middle of the church to Bishop Gabriel. He read the prayers, which elevated Mother Elisabeth to the rank of Abbess. It was a solemn moment, and followed by a very joyful Axios! Mother Elisabeth returned to the choir and the liturgy continued.
Divine Liturgy was followed by a procession and Molieben to the Saint. One of the litanies was intoned in the unfinished chapel. Amidst the construction material there were flowers and an analoy with the icon of St Elizabeth the New Martyr. The procession returned and just before the venerating of the cross, Mother Elisabeth was once more led to Bishop Gabriel who handed her the Abbess Staff and read the instructions from the Book of Needs which is to guide both Mother Elisabeth in her new responsibilities and the sisters in their responsibilities to their new Spiritual Mother.
All guests were invited to share in the festal trapeza following the liturgy. Everyone helped in dismantling the church and setting up the tables for the meal. Lunch was a happy and leisurely meal, enjoyed by everyone.
Abbess Elisabeth and the sisters are grateful to God that the weather was perfect, and the gardens were so beautiful. They are also grateful to all the clergy and friends who came to share in their joy and ask for their prayers that God may continue to help the new Abbess Elisabeth and the Skete to prosper and grow to the Glory of God.