It was with great joy that the faithful of the Russian Orthodox parish of the Protection of the Mother of God of the city of Rochester, New York, were finally able to have their beautiful church fully consecrated. This long-awaited day was postponed from last year due to the Covid crisis.
His Grace, Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, along with His Grace Bishop Luke of Syracuse, Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery, presided at the consecration and the Divine Liturgy that followed on September 6, 2021.
The Protection parish was founded after World War II by Russian emigres, mostly of Cossack origin. As was typical in all such cases, the founders, zealous to preserve their religious faith in a foreign environment, did not have the means to build a church right away. First a garage, and then with time, a large house was obtained and turned into a church.
With the spiritual guidance of His Eminence, Archbishop Laurus of Syracuse and Holy Trinity Monastery, later Metropolitan and First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, finally in the later 1990’s, a parcel of land was purchased within the city of Rochester, one might say miraculously, which was a perfect spot for the building of a beautiful church in traditional Russian style with the possibility of future building. Church members had committed themselves to make generous pledges for the building of this magnificent house of God. The parishioners labored greatly for the construction and the beautification of this temple.
Services commenced in the new church in the early 2000’s. The next few years, the church has been beautifully decorated with traditional iconography on its walls. And thus, on September 5, in the evening, the services of consecration began. On this evening, an All-Night Vigil was served to the feast of the church, the Protection of the Mother of God as well as the Renewal of the Church in Jerusalem, as according to the rubrics of a church blessing.
On Monday, September 6, the faithful welcomed the two celebrating bishops. Bishop Nicholas brought along with him the miraculous icon of the Mother of God of Kursk, the Odigitria of the Church Abroad. The consecration service began immediately upon the meeting of the bishop and the icon.
The service of consecration of a church is a wonderful and very mystical service, full of symbolism and connection with the Resurrection of Christ. Just as the new church is consecrated to the glory of God, we also should be renewed and consecrated to our Lord.
This was a full consecration, so besides the construction of a new altar table, the new iconostasis, the table of Offering, seventeen antimens, as well as the whole church were sanctified and consecrated. Very moving was the procession around the church with the holy relics. The joyous faces of the faithful showed their love for their new church. The singing of the clergy in the altar in response to the church choir was very well done, and the service proceeded very orderly.
Upon completion of the consecration, Divine Liturgy was concelebrated by our bishops along with numerous clergy from all over the Church. Besides the two bishops, there were around fourteen priests and numerous deacons. A young parishioner was tonsured a reader. The rector of the parish, Archpriest Gregory Naumenko was awarded the right to wear a mitre by the Synod of Bishops for his many years of dedication and labors for the glory of God’s Church.
Three chalices were used to commune the numerous faithful who availed themselves of the Holy Mysteries. A very moving sermon on the meaning of the consecration service was given by Priest John Boddecker.
After the service and the obligatory photograph, refreshments were served for the clergy. A very pleasant celebratory banquet was held in downtown Rochester. A very interesting slide show showing the history of the parish was shown. There were a number of speeches given, expressing gratitude to the parishioners for their dedication and perseverance in obtaining their long-awaited goal of a worthy house of the Lord.