God is wonderous in his saints: the God of Israel is he who will give power and strength to his people. Blessed be God. – Psalm 67:36
On Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 9th of August, the brethren of Holy Cross Monastery in Wayne, WV, along with His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan and a multitude of pilgrims, celebrated the feast day of their monastery’s heavenly patron, the Holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon.
Since the early days of the Hermitage brotherhood, St. Panteleimon has been a loving patron saint and a powerful intercessor for the monastic community and for all those who visit the monastery to call upon his aid. On this most recent celebration of St. Panteleimon’s Feast, the grace showered upon the monastery through the love and intercessions of St. Panteleimon and the patron of all monastics, the Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, was quite evident.
On Saturday evening, an All-Night Vigil with an Akathist to St. Panteleimon was served with His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan presiding, along with the monastic clergy: Archimandrite Seraphim (Voepel), Hieromonks Alexander (Frizzell), Andrew (O’Leary), Nektarios (Merry), Hilarion (Heagy), and Gabriel (Hooten), and Hierodeacons Sergius (Wilson) and Paisios (Laiblin). Also serving were numerous visiting clerics: Archimandrite Daniel Keller (Dean of Northern Texas for the Antiochian Archdiocese), Archpriest John Dixon (rector of Holy Spirit Antiochian Church in Huntington, WV), Priest Mark Eliot (rector of St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Huntington, WV) and Deacons Jeremiah Davis and Andrew Temple (from Christ the Saviour Church in Wayne, WV – ROCOR).
During the Vigil, Bishop Nicholas gave a brief yet inspiring homily calling all the monastics and faithful to emulate St. Panteleimon in his steadfast and self-denying love and devotion to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: “Not because we know it is the ‘right thing’ that we should do, but because we truly love God above all things.”
At the end of Vigil, a monastic candidate was made a novice. The new Brother Michael is the latest of a number of men that the Lord has sent to the Hermitage of the Holy Cross this summer.
Schemamonk John (Dezorzi), who had been gravely ill with cancer and spending his last days at the monastery, was blessed to be able to receive Holy Communion for the last time after the Vigil for St. Panteleimon.
Following the Vigil was a wonderful reception with food and beverages provided by the Saad family, who are very good friends and benefactors of the monastery, and who are parishioners of the Holy Spirit Antiochian parish in Huntington, WV.
On Sunday morning, following a Small Blessing of Waters, Vladyka Nicholas presided during Hierarchal Liturgy, co-served by the monastic clergy as well as Deacons Jeremiah Davis and Andrew Temple. During the Liturgy, Hieromonk Alexander (Frizzell) was elevated to the rank of Igumen, and Hierodeacon Sergius (Wilson) was elevated to Archdeacon.
At the completion of Hierarchal Divine Liturgy, a festal Moleben was served to the Holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon, and all names which were sent to the Hermitage brotherhood for commemoration were read before the icon of the heavenly patron of the Hermitage.
At the completion of the Moleben, Vladyka Nicholas offered some words of thanksgiving to the Hermitage brotherhood and to all the pilgrims present. He presented a magnificently carved wooden icon of the Holy Napkin to the monastery as a gift on behalf of himself and of the Synod Cathedral. In return, a beautifully framed icon of St. Panteleimon was presented to Vladyka Nicholas as a gift from the brotherhood of the Hermitage of the Holy Cross.
The brethren and pilgrims were then treated to a festal meal, which included a number of delicious Lebanese dishes cooked especially by friends and benefactors who attend the local Holy Spirit Antiochian Church in Huntington, WV.
The weekend was filled with many blessings and with much grace, but the Lord had yet to bestow His final visitation on the brothers during the feast. Schemamonk John, who had been afflicted with cancer and who had returned the Hermitage several weeks earlier, peacefully went to the Lord at 11:50pm on Sunday night of the Feast of St. Panteleimon. It was a blessing and triumph for Schemamonk John, and many remarked that they had never seen such a beautiful and Christian death, surrounded by the Sacraments and prayers of all the brothers of the monastery. The next morning the funeral was served for Schemamonk John.
Archimandrite Seraphim (Voepel) remarked that this was the Hermitage’s largest St. Panteleimon’s Day to date, and in a many ways it was the most remarkable. The Hermitage brotherhood thanks His Grace Bishop Nicholas for blessing them with his warm presence, and they hope that his visit starts a tradition for the years to come.
Troparion to St. Panteleimon
O Holy Passion-bearer and healer Panteleimon * intercede with the
merciful God * that He grant unto our souls * forgiveness of offenses.