It was on the Friday before Memorial Day in 1905 that a group of faithful set out from Mayfield, PA—some by train, buggy, or wagon, others by foot—and crossed Mount Salem to a designated meeting place in the town of Waymart, PA. Once everyone had gathered, the procession continued on foot to the little village of South Canaan and the sacred grounds of the newly founded Saint Tikhon’s Monastery. Archbishop Tikhon, the monastery’s founder and future Patriarch of Moscow, and the monastery’s first Abbot, Father Arseny, led the procession marking the first Memorial Day Pilgrimage to Saint Tikhon’s Monastery, America’s oldest Orthodox monastic community.
Today, Saint Tikhon’s Monastery remains a “beating heart” for America’s Orthodox Christian faithful. Year after year, pilgrims have returned each Memorial Day weekend to its grounds “where saints have walked” as a means of reconnecting with God and the spiritual tradition of the Church. They attend the rich and festive services, meet old friends and make new ones, enjoy time with family, take in a spiritual word from one of the fathers of the monastery, remember loved ones who have departed to the next life, and receive comfort for souls burdened with the cares of this one.
This year’s 114th Annual Memorial Day Pilgrimage, slated to be held May 25 through May 28, 2018, continues the tradition established by Saint Tikhon and Father Arseny. Pilgrims will once again be especially graced by the presence of the Myrrhstreaming Hawaiian Iveron Icon of the Mother of God and by the participation and presence of numerous hierarchs, clergy, faithful, and friends from across America and beyond.
The Pilgrimage will officially open on Friday, May 25 with the arrival of the Hawaiian Iveron Icon at the monastery entrance archway. Vespers and Matins will follow in the Monastery Church of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk at 4:00 p.m., after which pilgrims are invited to dinner in the monastery dining hall.
The 75th annual Commencement of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary will be held on Saturday, May 26. The day will open with the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in the monastery church at 9:00 a.m., followed by a meal in the dining hall. Commencement Exercises will begin at 1:00 p.m. The Vigil for the Great Feast of Pentecost will be celebrated at 4:00 p.m., followed by dinner for all pilgrims in the dining hall.
The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at 9:00 a.m. on Pentecost Sunday, May 27, followed by a meal for all pilgrims in the dining hall. Vespers and Matins will be celebrated at 4:00 p.m. In conjunction with the Choir Festival slated to be held during the pilgrimage, the Chamber Choir of Saint Tikhon’s Monastery, under the direction of Benedict Sheehan, will perform Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil at Saint Stephen’s Episcopalian Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre, PA, on Sunday evening at 7:30 p.m. Additional information on the festival and concert, as well as ticket and registration details, are available online.
On Memorial Day—Monday, May 28—the Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Holy Spirit will begin in the Monastery Church at 7:30 a.m. The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. at All Saints Bell Tower, followed by a Memorial Service for Veterans at 12:15 p.m. The Akathistos Hymn to Saint Alexis Toth will be celebrated in the monastery church at 1:30 p.m., while the Molieben to the Most Holy Theotokos with the Anointing of the Sick, Infirm and All Pilgrims will be celebrated at All Saints Bell Tower at 2:15 p.m. The pilgrimage will close with the celebration of Vespers and Matins at 4:00 p.m.
The schedule of pilgrimage lectures and children’s events and further updates will be posted on the pilgrimage web site as they become available.