On Saturday evening, May 13, the Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk led the All-night Vigil in St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, DC, founded in September 1949 by St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco.
His Eminence was co-served by the former Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen); the Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, His Grace Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk; parish rector Archpriest Victor Potapov; Vice-Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich; Vice-rector for Academic affairs of the Sts Cyril and Methodius’ Church Post-Graduate and Doctoral School in Moscow, Hieromonk Ioann (Kopeikin); cleric of St. Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in New York, Archpriest Yaroslav Lutoshkin and clerics of St. John the Baptist Cathedral.
At the conclusion of the All-night Vigil, Metropolitan Hilarion relayed that he was overjoyed to meet again with the parish rector, Archpriest Victor Potapov and to serve in the cathedral. He explained “while I was still a student during Soviet times between all the noise, I listened to the voice of Fr. Viktor on the radio-station Svoboda when he was broadcasting programs for Orthodox believers.”
His Eminence also reminded all gathered that in a few days, commemorating the tenth-anniversary of the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Church Abroad – marking the restoration of the united Local Russian Orthodox Church.
“This event has given us an opportunity to stand together before the throne of God, commune from one Eucharistic Chalice and to feel as members of the single Body of the Church of Christ, the Russian Orthodox Church, which has throughout the ages, enlightened our Russian people and many others,” said Vladyka. Hilarion. “And today our Holy Church is present in different countries, different cities where our believers are present. Prayers are heard in Church Slavonic or in the local language. And here the services are performed both in the Church Slavonic language and in English, since it is important that the Divine Services are understandable for the believers.”
Metropolitan Hilarion thanked Fr. Viktor for his missionary and pastoral work that he has accomplished for many decades and wished him fortitude in his ministry.
Fr. Viktor in turn thanked Metropolitan Hilarion for his visit to the parish. “Our parish, thanks be to God, flourishes through the prayers of St. John of Shanghai who founded this community in 1949. We are overjoyed that ten years ago a great event occurred – the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion. We strive to preserve the great traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church, as you have seen many times during trips to the Russian diaspora. And now, as you said, we have the opportunity to partake of the one Chalice of Christ.”
In prayerful commemoration of his visit to the parish, Fr. Viktor presented Metropolitan Hilarion with an icon of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco.