St. Tikhon’s is a gracious monastery. Ancient trees decorate the grounds and stand alongside the churches, mosaic icons, the beautiful bell tower and quaint meditation chapels. Each year the faithful pilgrimage from across the nation and the world to St. Tikhon’s of Zadonsk to renew their faith, meet with family and friends and this year, to view the treasured Miracle-working Sitka Mother of God icon.


St. Tikhon’s is a gracious monastery. Ancient trees decorate the grounds and stand alongside the churches, mosaic icons, the beautiful bell tower and quaint meditation chapels. Each year the faithful pilgrimage from across the nation and the world to St. Tikhon’s of Zadonsk to renew their faith, meet with family and friends and this year, to view the treasured Miracle-working Sitka Mother of God icon.
“Icons are windows into heaven,” says Martin Paluch, Director of communication and public relations. The icons vary in design – all beautiful. Paintings of Saints with eyes that seem to reach across the years and look into your soul, some accented with gold, others, like the Mother of God Icon are dressed in intricate silver have golden sunburst halos surrounding their heads.
The church plays host to ethnic diversity of the faithful – people speaking Russian, English, Polish, Greek, Romanian and more can be heard. They travel from near and far to be part of this event. “In a way I think it all boils down to the fact that people need God in their lives,” says Mark Lichtenstein, St. Tikhon’s Seminarian. “…St. Tikhon’s is a place where the presence, the grace of God abounds. Somehow people know this and come to experience it, even if only for a fleeting moment during a pilgrimage weekend.”
The Orthodox Church provides an anchor for families in a tumultuous world. “The Orthodox Church is a way of life,” says Paluch “I think it feeds the soul.” He stands outside of the icon repository – the home of some of the Churches treasured icons. “The icons are windows into heaven,” says Paluch. The church believes that the icons serve as a window into heaven. “If you want to experience a church service as it was practiced in the first century, attend an orthodox service,” states Paluch.
They come for their faith but they enjoy the food. Russian and Greek specialties can be had, all are delicious and everyone has a favorite. “…We personally save up our spending money for the baklava,” says Suzanne Lichtenstein, wife of Seminarian Mark Lichtenstein. 
Other Families picnic on the expansive grounds or throughout the cemetery making connections with relatives who have gone before them. “The love does not stop at the door,” says Paluch.
And they come for the handcrafts and artwork. Beautiful prints from Russian painters, religious icons, beautiful hand painted eggs, books and more are available for purchase in the craft store during the festival and at the bookstore and museum always.
“It’s really is amazing that so few locals know about the Pilgrimage,” says Suzanne Lichtenstein. “Perhaps it could be called Wayne County’s best kept secret…and yet all visitors are welcome. They’re always welcome, but the Pilgrimage is an especially good time to visit.”
  The 105th pilgrimage opened formally on May 22 with a greeting of the Sitka Icon at the Archway and a procession to celebrate the blessing of the well. On Saturday St. Tikhon’s celebrated the graduation of 24 the largest class in the history of the seminary. This year also marks the largest group of Seminarians enrolled – a total of 122. Other weekend events included free admission to the museum, which includes a wonderful display of Pysanky eggs, Russian folk dress, information about life in South Canaan in the early 1900’s, and many more amazing treasures. The weekend also included a Russian chant and bell ringing demonstration, an arts and crafts sale, and lots of delicious food throughout the weekend.