Gorlovka, Ukraine, July 24, 2014
A revered copy of the Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God arrived at the church on eve of the feast.
The rite of the consecration of the church was performed by Metropolitan Hilarion of Donetsk and Mariupol, by Archbishop Mitrophan of Slaviansk, and Bishop Barnabas of Makeyevka, concelebrating with a great number of clergy from the Gorlovsk Diocese. Hundreds of people from Gorlovka came to attend the momentous event in the life of the city and to pray in the newly-consecrated church before the Pochaev Icon of the Theotokos.
After the consecration of the church, a hierarchical Divine Liturgy was served.
At the end of the service Metropolitan Hilarion of Donetsk and Mariupol addressed the people of Gorlovka with an archpastoral homily:
“We are performing the Rite of Consecration in times that are difficult for us and in difficult conditions. As we were going around the church with the Holy Antimins, we heard explosions. We see what is happening today in our land, in our Orthodox Donbass[i]… We haven’t been thinking about what “peace” is, although we hear the priest address the people with “Peace be unto all” several times after every service. Today we know the value of peace.
“Today we glorify the Most Holy Virgin Mary. We have here today the revered Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God, Who has always been our Protectress and our Boast . It is our hope for the best, and the comforting of our suffering people. She is here today among us in order to comfort us, to bring us to our senses and to call us to repentance. Today, dear brothers and sisters, there is only one thing left for us: to pray earnestly and to repent of our sins. We believe that the Lord and the Mother of God will be quick to help us, we believe that the fratricide — the sin of Cain, which is increasing today in our people — will cease.”
In his speech, in return, Archbishop Mitrophan thanked Metropolitan Hilarion and Bishop Barnabas for their visit and for the first joint prayer in the new church. He noted the following:
“Not all times are alike — there are nice, good times and there are hard times, when the Lord sends trials. The Lord gives us the good times so that we can build and be grateful to Him, and the difficult times to test us and for spiritual growth.”
On this day, Archpriest Vladimir Turenko, secretary of the Gorlovsk Diocese, dean of the St. Nicholas Deanery in Gorlovka, and rector of the St. Nicholas Cathedral, celebrated his 60th birthday. Metropolitan Hilarion of Donetsk and Mariupol congratulated him in the name of all the people who were gathered there, wishing him robust health, long years, and God’s blessing in his labors in the fields of the Church.
[i] “Donbass” = Donetsk Basin