Members of the National Executive Board of the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America [FOCA] met with students at Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary here on Monday evening, August 31, 2015. Representing the FOCA were Marge Kovach, President; Allison Steffaro, Vice-President; and Archpriest Theodore Boback, FOCA Spiritual Advisor.
After welcoming the students on the first day of classes, Marge and Father Ted spoke about the organization’s long history of assisting in the work of the Church and supporting our seminaries. They described the FOCA as a network of senior and junior chapters which, through a variety of religious, educational, cultural, social and athletic activities, provides an ideal way to meet others within the faith, beyond the boundaries of the local parish.
Allison highlighted several FOCA programs designed to help seminarians, including the availability of academic scholarships specifically for seminary students, the “Adopt A Seminarian Program,” which provides financial assistance during the academic year to seminarians in need, and the “Christmas Wish List Program,” which provides gifts from “Saint Nicholas” for the families of married students. Priest Dr. David Mezynski, Associate Dean for Student Affairs, reflected on the joy he witnessed on the faces of those students who had received gifts.
Established in 1927 as the Federated Russian Orthodox Clubs, the FOCA today is an official organization of the Church with chapters in many parishes across the US. In July 2015, the FOCA held its 89th National Convention in Atlanta, GA, in conjunction with the OCA’s 18th All-American Council. Additional information may be found on the FOCA web site.
A variety of gatherings of interest to Orthodox Christians are slated to be held in October 2015. Among those about which we have been informed are the following.
Rives Junction, MI: Orthodox Women in the Healing Ministries’ 23rd annual retreat October 2-4
“Tending on God: A Spiritual perspective on Healing” will be the theme of the 23rd annual retreat sponsored by Orthodox Women in the Healing Ministries [OWHM] at Holy Dormition Monastery, Rives Junction, MI October 2-4, 2015.
The main speaker will be Priest Silviu Nicolae Bunta, Ph. D., Associate Professor and Orthodox Christian Fellowship Advisor at the University of Dayton, OH, where he teaches Bible, ancient Judaism, Hebrew and Greek. Born in Romania, he is a graduate of the Universities of Sibiu and Oradea and earned his doctorate at Marquette University.
Founded in 1992, OWHM provides support to Orthodox Christian women who work in the medical and healing professions, including doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers and those ministering in related fields.
Black Lick, PA: Western PA Archdiocese to sponsor “dialogue and discussion” to help small parishes October 3
The Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania of the Orthodox Church in America will sponsor “a session of dialogue and discussion to help small parishes face the future” on Saturday, October 3, 2015 at Saint John the Baptist Church, Black Lick, PA.
Facilitated by Joseph Kormos of the Archdiocese’s Parish Health Ministry, the theme will be “Facing Forward.” The program will be “short on presentation, teaching and preaching and long on structured discussion and dialogue,” he said. “Potential discussion topics will include what constitutes a ‘viable’ parish, can ‘small’ be ‘vibrant,’ what kind of parish do we want to become, and rebuilding parishes from within.” The gathering is especially geared toward priests and deacons, parish council members, and concerned parishioners.
To register, send a check for $10.00, payable to the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, to the Archdiocese—Leaders Day Registration, PO Box 1769, Cranberry Township, PA 16066-1769 by September 28. For further information contact Archpriest William Evansky, Chancellor, at 724-266-5009 or email@example.com.
Bronx, NY: Inaugural holder of Fordham’s Meyendorff-Patterson Chair of Orthodox Christian Studies to be installed
Dr. George E. Demacopoulos will be installed as the inaugural holder of the Father John Meyendorff and Patterson Family Chair of Orthodox Christian Studies at Fordham University, Bronx, NY at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, October 5, 2015. The inauguration and Dr. Demacopoulos’ inaugural lecture, “War, Violence and the Feast of the Holy Cross in Byzantium,” will be held in the first floor auditorium at the Rose Hill Campus’ Keating Hall.
The chair was established by Solon and Marianna Patterson of Atlanta, GA and their family in February 2015. Appropriately, the new chair honors Protopresbyter John Meyendorff [1926–1992], who was both Professor of Byzantine History at Fordham and Professor of Church History and Patristics at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY, as well as its Dean. Father John’s scholarly works—particularly his writings on the Great Schism of 1054, the nature of authority in the Church, and the primacy of Peter—greatly contributed to official Orthodox-Catholic dialogues. Besides being a participant in many of those dialogues, Father John acted as an astute observer and detailed chronicler of them, with an intensely personal interest in their continuation (e.g., his article, “Orthodox-Roman Catholic Dialogue Faces Snags,” St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Quarterly 30:4, 1986).
Portland, OR: Pacific NW Liturgical Singing Seminar October 16-17
Saint Nicholas Church here will host the 2015 Pacific Northwest Liturgical Singing Seminary on Friday and Saturday, October 16-17, 2015. The seminar theme—“Orthodox Music in the Contemporary World”—will be developed by liturgical music composer and expert Mark Bailey. The Kliros Liturgical Chorale will provide musical demonstrations.
The seminar will include music-reading sessions featuring contemporary Orthodox music. The seminar Vespers and Matins will be sung with the Saint Nicholas parish choir.
Brookline, MA: “Speaking to Secular America” theme of October 28-30 conference
Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, MA, will be the site of a conference titled “Speaking to Secular America: How the Church is Reaching Out to the Non-Religious in Our Society” October 28-30, 2015. The conference, which is being sponsored by HC/HC’s Missions Institute of Orthodox Christianity, is being held in conjunction with the inauguration of HC/HC’s 21st President, the Very Rev. Christopher T. Metropulos, D.Min, slated to be held on the second day of the gathering. The keynote address will be delivered by His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Among the nine speakers slated to address participants are Archpriest Stephen Freeman, Rector of the OCA’s Saint Anne Church, Oak Ridge, TN and author of the “Glory to God for All Things” blog and the book, Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Story Universe, and Priest John Parker, Rector of Holy Ascension Church, Charleston, SC and Chair of the OCA’s Department of Evangelization.
To obtain additional information or to register, contact Priest Luke Veronis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Chamber Choir of Saint Tikhon’s Monastery, a professional vocal ensemble under the auspices of America’s oldest Orthodox monastery, will give a concert at the Roman Catholic Church of Saint John Nepomucene, 411 East 66 Street, New York, NY at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 12, 2015.
The concert will celebrate the release of the choir’s forthcoming debut album, “Till Morn Eternal Breaks: Sacred Choral Music of Benedict Sheehan.” Proceeds from the event will benefit Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.
The performance will consist of original compositions, arrangements, and transcriptions by composer and conductor Benedict Sheehan, resident music director at Saint Tikhon’s Seminary and Monastery.
Several works on the program will be making their world premiere performances that evening, including Sheehan’s “Triduum Paschalae,” a three-movement work for chorus and soloists based on medieval English poetry and poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Among those giving solo performances on the evening will be Portland-based baritone John Michael Boyer, known for his work with Cappella Romana, and soprano Laura Soto-Bayomi of the Chatauqua Opera Festival and the Bard College Conservatory of Music.
His Eminence, Archbishop Michael of New York and New Jersey and Rector of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, observed that the upcoming concert is an example of the ongoing close cooperation between Saint Tikhon’s Seminary and Monastery, which have existed in a symbiotic relationship for the past 77 years.
“From the founding of the Monastery in 1905, and then together with the seminary since its founding in 1938, Saint Tikhon’s has worked to put the Liturgy at the center of people’s lives. One essential way we can do this is by dedicating ourselves to beautiful church singing, which is par excellence a sacramental offering of our time, our treasures, and our talents to God.”
Archbishop Michael also noted that this concert—the first joint monastery and seminary effort of its kind—represents “a deepening commitment on the part of both institutions to fostering excellence in the liturgical arts.”
Archimandrite Sergius, Abbot of Saint Tikhon’s Monastery, said that the concert and the CD it celebrates represent an important milestone in the development of Orthodox musical culture in America.
“Not only is this the first time that an established Orthodox institution such as Saint Tikhon’s Monastery has committed itself to cultivating sacred music-making at a professional level,” he said, “but it is also the first time that an entire album has been dedicated to the work of a single living Orthodox composer born and bred on American soil.”
Archpriest Dr. Steven Voytovich, Dean of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, shared his excitement about this joint effort in developing liturgical music.
“Benedict Sheehan, a member of Saint Tikhon’s Class of 2011, continues to manifest an active commitment to both the seminary and monastery by equipping our seminarians in the area of liturgical music as a faculty member, leading the Seminarian Mission Choir that travels to parishes across the country, and training and directing the monastery choir in singing the responses in the daily cycle of services,” Father Steven said. “We celebrate his dedication to elevating and developing Orthodox liturgical music in North America.”
A great deal of enthusiasm was generated by the reports offered by the Orthodox Church in America’s departments during the 18th All-American Council in July 2015. Representatives of each department highlighted their past and current work during plenary sessions while noting their hopes for the future.
We recently asked the department chairpersons to share their ongoing plans for the months and years ahead in the spirit of the AAC’s theme, “How to Expand the Mission.” Here’s how they responded.
The mission and focus of the Department of Continuing Education is the support of Church school teachers, clergy, families and others engaged in faith formation for every age level.
In conjunction with the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, the Department of Continuing Education recently received an $18,000.00 grant from the Pastoral Excellence Network of the Lilly Endowment. The grant will provide initial funding for the Orthodox Pastoral Excellence Project, a program of clergy peer learning groups tailored specifically for Orthodox Christian clergy. The initial grant will be used to “jumpstart” three peer learning groups for clergy serving in parishes and missions with largely immigrant populations or who are themselves immigrants to the US or Canada. Incorporating also the goal of building solidarity and shared community between pastors, it will give foreign-born clergy the tools to build up their lives and ministries and the relationships needed to sustain continued growth and witness. The first groups will be formed during the fall of 2015.
The Department is also collaborating with the Department of Pastoral Life to facilitate the formation of similar peer learning groups by that department. [See the Department of Pastoral Life’s report below for details.]
The Department recently approved the ORSMA program, “Stewards of Children,” as part of the five hours of Continuing Clergy Development required annually of all OCA clergy.
Acknowledging the often unique demands borne by clergy and their families, the Department of Pastoral Life strives to offer support, serving their needs so that they, in turn, may serve others.
Adhering to its newly approved departmental structure, the first monthly meeting of the Department of Pastoral Life’s Executive Committee since the 18th AAC will be held in mid-September 2015, at which time numerous proposed departmental endeavors will be reviewed and prioritized. Selected from diverse communities and appointments throughout the Church but united in their zeal for improving pastoral support for the OCA’s clergy, the committee’s members anticipate expanding their work in earnest.
Remembered with particular fondness for its interviews with prominent and senior priests, back issues of Pastors to Pastors, a newsletter of the Department of Pastoral Life, are now available for the first time in an on-line archive. Spanning more 20 years, the newsletter detailed the struggles and joys in the lives of parish priests. Alternating wit and gravity, good humor and thoughtful sense, the newsletter offered an essential venue for discussion between pastors in an age before communication was instantaneous. More senior clergy may find their fathers and predecessors, even themselves there, while younger pastors will read the vibrant words of many who may just be names or second-hand memories for them.
As reported in part above by the Department of Continuing Education, clergy peer groups will become a reality in two dioceses in 2016, thanks to significant grants awarded by the Pastoral Excellence Network [PEN]. Archpriest Nicholas Solak of the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania and Archpriest Ian Pac-Urar of the Romanian Episcopate report that their proposals for funding diocesan initiatives have been accepted and will be implemented this fall. The Honoring Pastoral Excellence program [HOPE] builds upon a preexisting endeavor of the Eastern Pennsylvania diocese which brought active priests together for mutual support, learning, and personal growth. The grant of an additional $25,000.00 will greatly augment this program of building peer communities of practice, expanding it from an initial two groups into a resource available for all diocesan clergy who wish to participate. Additionally, the HOPE program will permit the charter of a similar body for clergy wives, offering them the same opportunities for shared support, personal interaction, and health. As noted above, the Romanian Episcopate’s new program is aimed specifically at meeting the needs of the diocese’s immigrant clergy and parishes. With the receipt of an $18,000.00 grant, it aims to aid those of its priests who are still becoming acclimated to life in North America.
Applications for these grants and the impetus for these programs stem from a joint endeavor of the Departments of Continuing Education and of Pastoral Life of the Orthodox Church in America. In the spring of 2015, a delegation supported by these two departments traveled to San Francisco to gain a broader understanding of clergy peer groups, the practice that informs them, and the process used to implement them. His Eminence, Archbishop Mark of Philadelphia and Fathers Solak, Pac-Urar, and Preston received training as program facilitators and acquired a richer understanding of the promise and potential such programs hold. The workshop was sponsored by PEN, a non-denominational initiative housed at Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, IN and funded by the Lilly Endowment for Religion. Additional information is available here.
The Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid promotes the involvement of clergy and laity in caring for the needs of others according to the Gospel teachings and Tradition of the Church. Resources are developed for ministry programs by and for people of all ages.
Members of the Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid Department [CSHA] were gratified to meet with hierarchs, clergy and laity in their workshop sessions and at the CSHA display at the 18th All-American Council, during which the department presented two three-hour workshops—“Matthew 25 Ministries” and “Bearing One Another’s Burdens.” There was great interest in the presentation by Archpriest Thomas Alessandroni on the Pan-Orthodox “Loaves and Fishes Ministry” that serves the hungry and homeless of Atlanta’s Grant Park area. Diana Pasca shared stories of the vibrant and diverse “Inreach-Outreach Ministry” at Holy Cross Church, Medford, NJ, while Dr. Albert Rossi offered a serious and timely presentation titled “Beyond Alcoholism: Other Addictions.” In depth discussions made it possible for attendees to return to their parishes with a variety of ministry development strategies.
Priest Timothy Yates led a workshop on small groups, in which active listening as a necessary ministry skill was highlighted. This skill is an important part of CSHA’s Compassion in Action [CiA] visitation ministry. He had recently conducted a CiA Parish Ministry Training weekend at Saint Mary Magdalene Church, Fenton, MI, where Archpriest Paul Jannakos, Deacon Michael Schlaak and lay leaders made a commitment to serve as the CiA Pilot Program. CSHA members are grateful to them and pray for the development of their caring ministry to those who are suffering physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.
CSHA’s Orthodox Living Will Task Force has worked diligently to produce legal and ethical documents consistent with Orthodox Christian teaching on end-of-life and after-death care. When the Holy Synod review process is completed, the Power of Attorney document and Advance Directives will be available on the OCA web site to assist clergy, laity and their families in making faith-informed medical decisions.
Information on parish development programs and charitable outreach projects may now be accessed on-line at the “Parish Ministry Resources”. New articles are added regularly, while older articles spanning eight themes are continuously being refreshed for today’s readers. The Community Service section offers a wealth of ideas related to ministering to the needy.
CSHA hopes that parishes will participate in the National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11. Parishes in a given area are encouraged to form partnerships to pursue charitable ministries. Many local media outlets run announcements on 9-11 volunteer opportunities for the official service days, which run through October 11.
Recognizing that youth and young adults play a vital role in the life of the Church, the Department of Youth, Young Adult, and Campus Ministry works to train clergy, parents, and youth ministers in various aspects of ministry with, to, and by young people.
Engagement with and building up of Syndesmos, the World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth. As a follow up to the recently concluded Syndesmos fesitval in Poland, at which the OCA was represented—see related article—the Department plans to explore ways to help the organization in its ongoing efforts to connect Orthodox Christian youth and young adults around the world.
Closer cooperation with the Junior Fellowship of Orthodox Christians of America [FOCA]. The Department looks forward to capitalizing on the enthusiasm and energy evident during the successful youth program held in conjunction with the 18th All-American Council and the FOCA’s 89th National Convention. A priority will be working with the FOCA to help shape new Church-wide youth events.
Expand “Praxis” Google Hangouts. Following the department’s pilot of this program in June 2015, plans are underway to offer additional “Praxis” Google Hangouts for college students and young adults in the coming months. Suggestions for topics or discussion leaders are always welcome.
Potential Young Adult Liturgical Music Conference. Looking to the first quarter of 2016, the Department is considering hosting a Liturgical Music Conference for young adults in the Diocese of the South or the Diocese of the West over a long holiday weekend. Those interested in such a gathering are urged to contact Andrew Boyd, OCA Youth Director, at email@example.com.
Youth and Camp Workers’ Conference. Every January, representatives from all jurisdictions gather for the annual Youth and Camp Workers’ Conference, which are now coupled with the Youth Consultation meetings of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA. The date and location of the 2016 conference will be announced shortly.
Several new resources are slated to make their appearance on the Department of Christian Education’s web site in early fall 2015. Among them is Activity Book #4, “Saints And The Animals That Served Them,” which includes various ways for youth and families to learn about 12 saints whose lives reflected love for God’s creatures. Also to make its debut in the weeks to come are additional resources detailing the lives of North America’s saints. For each saint, an icon surrounded by small scenes from his life and a full written narrative of the saint’s life that follow the scene sequence will be featured.
Ongoing projects that will soon be available on the department’s web site for free downloading include study questions to accompany each volume of the late Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko’s “Orthodox Faith” series, slated to be revised during the coming year; a Vacation Church School unit for 2016 based on the curriculum written by department members and used in the youth program at the 18th AAC; additional seasonal activities based on the five-year series of bulletin inserts produced by the department; and articles on topics related to Christian Education, including reviews of curriculum materials, books and other resources.
Department members are developing two new retreats for parishes and groups. “Orthodox Surprises” is a full-day retreat that reflects on the lives of some lesser-known saints and on the Orthodox Church as a truly Biblical Church, while “Six Things Every Orthodox Woman Should Know” is a mini-retreat of 40 to 60 minutes that reflects on the lives of several Biblical women and saints and what their lives tell us about being members of the Orthodox Church today.
The Department of Liturgical Music and Translations serves as an advisory body to the Metropolitan and the Holy Synod of Bishops in matters concerning liturgical translations and music, liturgics, and other matters affecting the liturgical life of the Church.
In addition to providing appropriate musical settings for use in worship, the department continues to produce publications and workshop materials on liturgical singing; develops a coherent and liturgically sound approach to the singing of the divine services, especially in the English language; and coordinates the weekly postings of music, text, and audio file resources available on the OCA web site.
The Department also continues to develop standard liturgical texts, translations, and guidelines that accurately reflect the original texts, while taking into consideration the complexities of usage and nuance.
As part of its ongoing on-line instructional courses, the department once again is offering an on-line course, “Choral Conducting for Beginners,” beginning September 14, 2015. Class sessions will be devoted to demonstrating basic conducting techniques, starting with elementary conducting patterns and concluding with an emphasis on conducting liturgical chant. The course consists of 12 sessions over a 13-week period. Additional information may be found here. Class size is limited, so those interested in the course are urged to register no later than September 8. The registration form may be accessed here.
The Orthodox Church in America is a member of the National Conference of Ministry to the Armed Forces and a member of the Endorsers for Chaplaincy Veterans Affairs Centers and is recognized by the Armed Forces Chaplains Board to certify and endorse chaplains to serve in the armed forces.
The Office offered a briefing at the 18th All-American Council, during which Metropolitan Tikhon met with the chaplains and chaplain candidates.
Plans for the immediate future include visitations with chaplain candidates at Saint Tikhon’s and Saint Vladimir’s Seminaries and with students interested in the chaplaincy.
The Office invites clergy who are interested in serving in the United States Armed Forces as active duty chaplains, reserve components, National Guard chaplains or VAMC chaplains to contact Archpriest Theodore Boback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West will represent His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon at the canonization of two clerics who served in North America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries—Bishop Mardarije [Uskokovic] and Archimandrite Sebastian [Dabovich]—at Saint Steven Serbian Orthodox Cathedral here September 5, 2015.
His Holiness, Patriarch Irinej of Serbia, will preside at the liturgical celebration, at which many visiting hierarchs, civil dignitaries, and others will be present.
“This is a wonderful blessing for all of us Orthodox Christians in America, and for the whole Orthodox Church throughout the world,” said His Grace, Bishop Maxim of the Western Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church. “When one thinks of the tremendous sacrifices that these two holy apostles made, and the many sorrows that they endured, one is especially gratified that they are now universally recognized as being among the Church’s luminaries.”
A detailed program for the liturgical celebration and related festivities may be found here.
At their regular session in Belgrade May 29, 2015, the members of the Holy Assembly of Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church announced their intention to glorify Bishop Mardarije and Archimandrite Sebastian as “preachers of the Gospel, God-pleasing servants of the holy life, and inspirers of many missionaries” for their pastoral labors in America and their homeland. The glorification came in response to a recommendation by the Episcopal Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America.
The annual commemorations of Saint Mardarije of Libertyville, Bishop of America-Canada, and Saint Sebastian of San Francisco and Jackson will be observed on November 29/December 12 and November 17/30 respectively.
St. Sebastian of San Francisco and Jackson.
Saint Sebastian was born Jovan Dabovich in San Francisco, CA in 1863—in the midst of the US Civil war. His parents were Serbian immigrants from Sassovae. From his early youth he was devoted to the Church and spent much of his time at the city’s Holy Trinity Cathedral, where he later served as a reader and teacher. In 1884, he was assigned to assist at Archangel Michael Cathedral, Sitka, AK. Shortly thereafter, he was sent to Russia for training and formation as a missionary priest. After completing three years of studies at the Saint Petersburg and Kyiv Theological Academies, he was tonsured to monastic rank and ordained to the diaconate in 1887.
Returning to San Francisco, he served as a deacon at the cathedral and taught in the newly established pastoral school. On August 16, 1892, he was ordained to the priesthood and assigned to pursue missionary work in California and Washington. The following year, he succeeded Father [now Saint] Alexis Toth as rector of Saint Mary Church, Minneapolis, MN and taught at the Missionary School.
In 1894, Father Sebastian returned to California, where he established the first Serbian Orthodox parish in the US in Jackson, CA. Two years later, he was reassigned to San Francisco’s Holy Trinity Cathedral while continuing his missionary efforts in Jackson. In recognition of his abilities, Archbishop Tikhon assigned him as part of the North American Mission’s Administration. During this time he wrote a book titled The Ritual, Services and Sacraments of the Holy Orthodox Church. In 1902, he was transferred to Alaska, where he served as Dean of the Sitka Deanery.
With the development of additional Serbian parishes in the US, Archbishop Tikhon reassigned Father Sebastian to head the Serbian Mission in America in 1905. The Mission was based in Chicago, where Archimandrite Sebastian had organized and served as rector of Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Church. He continued to guide the Serbian Mission through July 1910, when at his own request he returned to missionary work. With the opening of Saint Platon Seminary, Tenafly, NJ in 1913, he served as a member of the faculty and also was involved in numerous conferences and discussions with non-Orthodox Christian confessions. In these meetings, he was sympathetic and understanding, yet firm in his desire to reveal Orthodox Christianity as the fullness of truth and the Church of Christ.
While Archimandrite Sebastian was obviously a candidate for the episcopacy is America, he likewise felt the calling to minister in his ancestral Serbia. He served as a chaplain to the Serbian Army during the Balkan War and World War I. In 1916, he requested a release from the North American Mission to serve in Serbia, where he ministered for the remainder of his life. He fell asleep in the Lord on November 30, 1940 and was interred in the Monastery of Zicha by his friend and Father Confessor, Bishop Nikolai [Velimirovic].
St. Mardarije of Libertyville.
Saint Mardarije was born Ivan Uskokovic in Podgoritsa, Montenegro, in 1889. In 1907, he embraced monasticism at the Studenitsa Monastery and then relocated to Russia to study at the Saint Petersburg Theological Academy. After graduation, he was ordained by the Russian Orthodox Church and sent as a missionary to America. In 1919, he was one of five Serbian Orthodox priests who participated in the Second All-American Sobor, held in Cleveland, OH in February 1919, at which time it was recommended that the Serbian Church in Belgrade advance him to the episcopacy to organize a Serbian Orthodox Diocese in America. Unfortunately, at this most chaotic time in the history of the Russian Orthodox Church, it was impossible to secure the written blessing of Patriarch [now Saint] Tikhon of Moscow. Later in 1919, Archimandrite Mardarije returned to Belgrade, where he was assigned as head of the Rakovitsa Monastery and principal of its monastic school. Subsequently, Bishop [now Saint] Nikolai [Velimirovic] of Ohrid was sent by Patriarch Dimitriye to administer the fledgling diocese. Having likewise returned to America, Archimandrite Mardarije served as Saint Nikolai’s Deputy for two years, and continued to administer the diocese after the latter’s return to Belgrade.
On April 26, 1926, Archimandrite Mardarije was consecrated to the episcopacy in Belgrade. Prior to his episcopal consecration, he had carried out most of the actual work of organizing the Serbian diocese. He also served as parish priest in Chicago and purchased with his personal funds the land for Saint Sava Monastery in suburban Libertyville.
From the moment of his return to America, Bishop Mardarije undertook a wide range of ministries. He did not spare himself, nor did he fear work, although he knew that he was gravely ill with an advancing case of tuberculosis. In 1927, he convened the first National Church Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox American-Canadian Diocese to address a variety of organizational issues. At a clergy conference held in Youngstown, OH in 1931, he renewed his appeal for all to work for the unity and good of the diocese. His kindness, patience and reluctance to use punitive measures resulted in a great measure of unity within the diocese by the time of his repose on December 12, 1935 at the age of 46 years. He was interred at Libertyville’s Saint Sava Monastery.
This year’s meeting will include two sessions devoted to canonical regional planning. In the first of these sessions, the Assembly’s 12 jurisdictional first hierarchs will have an opportunity to offer their comments on a proposal that has been prepared by the Committee for Canonical Regional Planning for submission to the Great and Holy Council in 2016. In the second session, the Assembly’s hierarchs will engage in a facilitated discussion about the proposal. This year’s meeting also includes a working session on pastoral practices of marriage and divorce.
On Tuesday evening, September 15, the Assembly will sponsor a pan-Orthodox youth gathering for high school and college students in the Chicago area at Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, 5701 North Redwood Drive, Chicago. The program will open with a welcoming orientation at 6:00 p.m. and close at 10:00 p.m.
The keynote address, “Adult Education is Crucial to the Parish,” will be delivered by Kevin Allen, host of the “Ancient Faith Today” podcast on Ancient Faith Radio. Other speakers include Dr. Anton Vrame, OCEC Vice President, and Gerry Clonaris, both of the Greek Archdiocese; Archpriest Stephen Freeman, Orthodox Church in America; and Priests Josiah Trenham, Andrew Stephen Damick and John Oliver of the Antiochian Archdiocese. A variety of instructors, including His Grace, Bishop Thomas of the Antiochian Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic, and the OCA’s Priest Dr. J. Sergius Halvorsen, Assistant Professor of Homiletics and Rhetoric at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY, will conduct individual course sessions related to the overall theme.
With Church Schools beginning during the month of September, the study guide makes an ideal “beginning of the school year” resource that not only addresses stewardship of creation, but highlights the annual September 1 “Day of Prayer for Creation” observed among Orthodox Christians world-wide since the late 1980s. A poster highlighting the day is also available for downloading.
“On September 1, 1989, the late Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios I issued the first message from the Ecumenical Throne on the environment,” writes His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon in a letter being sent to all OCA parishes at the end of August 2015, in which he urges use of the study guide. “With his proclamation and the establishment of September 1, the first day of the Ecclesiastical New Year, as the Day of Prayer for the Creation, the Church again seeks to remind us, as Mary reminded Martha, of the one needful thing—life and unity with Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ. In that statement, Patriarch Demetrios I reminds us that the holy fathers of the Church teach that ‘man is the prince of creation, endowed with the privilege of freedom. Being partaker simultaneously of the material and the spiritual world, he was created in order to refer creation back to the Creator, in order that the world may be saved from decay and death.’”
Metropolitan Tikhon continues by stating that “in Saint Ephrem the Syrian’s work, ‘Hymns on Paradise,’ we are given yet another guide to how we might come into that unity and life in Christ. Saint Ephrem tells us that God’s two witnesses, or pointers, are, ‘nature, through man’s use of it, [and] Scripture, through his reading it.’
“As the summer draws to a close and children go back to or away to school for the first time and begin again a new academic year and ecclesiastical year, let us, being reminded by the pointers to Christ as mentioned by Saint Ephrem, take a moment to turn to the one needful thing in praise, worship and thanksgiving for the creation and all the blessings bestowed upon us by our merciful Creator,” Metropolitan Tikhon concludes. “It is my prayer that the parishes, Sunday Schools, Youth Groups and other organizations of the Orthodox Church in America will take up this time around September 1 to celebrate the Day of Prayer for the Creation.”
During the week of August 8-15, 2015, the Mexico Mission Team cosponsored by the Orthodox Church in America and the Orthodox Christian Mission Center once again visited the Orthodox Christian Aztec community here.
With the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop Alejo of the Orthodox Church in America’s Diocese of Mexico, Archpriests Ted Pisarchuk, Jacksonville, FL, and Antonio Perdomo, Pharr TX, ministered alongside the region’s clergy, Hieromonk Serafin and Hierodeacon Silouan. Joining them were Rosa Perdomo and Helena Denise Cuellar, also from Pharr, TX, and Martin Esquivel, Fairfield, CA.
Recently installed iconostasis in Pisaflores.
“As in the past, our team was received with great enthusiasm,” said Father Ted. “Every year the children look forward to participating in our summer camp, while the adults enjoy short talks on the Orthodox Christian faith offered after services. And, as always, the villagers offered warm hospitality and delicious local foods.”
San Esteban is a remote subsistence village where “the residents grow their own corn, black beans and fruit,” Father Ted explained. “Most everyone raises chickens, and the food is truly organic and fresh! Homes are mostly built of concrete block with corrugated metal rooms. Many homes do not have indoor bathroom facilities, and where there is running water, it consists of one-quarter inch polybutylene pipes, akin to garden hoses, that run down the side of the road or are suspended from poles. Transportation is mostly by foot or horseback, while burros function as pickup trucks.”
In addition to their work in San Esteban—one of over 80 villages in Hidalgo on Mexico’s Gulf Coast—the team undertook a survey of the outlying Orthodox villages to see what assistance might be offered to enable indigenous clergy to more effectively serve their flocks.
Fr. Ted Pisarchuk blesses Pisaflores faithful.
“Local lore relates that this region of Mexico initially was evangelized by a Father Armin in the early 1920s,” said Father Ted. “Before his death in 1960, he had planted about 12 parishes, including those in San Esteban, Pisaflores, Benito Juarez, and elsewhere. Father Armin is buried in Pisaflores, where community members care for his grave and hold his memory in great esteem.”
After Father Armin’s death, Father Jesus Gutierrez arrived and served the people until his death in 1986.
“These men faithfully served their flocks and intervened with government officials to bring electricity and bridges to their towns,” Father Ted related. “After Father Jesus’ death, there was a lack of clergy to serve the local faithful until 2000, when Father Antonio—now Archbishop Alejo—moved to Pisaflores for one year, traveling by foot and horseback to serve area parishes. After he had been called back to Mexico City’s Ascension Cathedral in 2001, he continued to serve area parishes weekly for the next three years, traveling over nine hours each way by bus, boat, foot and horseback.”
Today, Hieromonk Serafin has taken up residence in the humble rectory in Pisaflores.
Fr. Antonio Perdomo prays with campers in San Estaban.
“A second, equally humble rectory, funded in large part by an OCA Church Planting Grant, is now is being built in San Esteban,” Father Ted said. “Father Serafin plans to use these two villages as a home base to serve the outlying villages.
“Because our churches have been underserved, evangelical Protestants have effectively proselytized many of the region’s Orthodox Christians,” Father Ted continued. “With a resident priest in the area, the last barrier to effective ministry—the ability to travel to these remote rural villages on a regular basis—can be overcome. Many villages are unmapped and are located along slow going stone roads.”
To visit these villages, Father Serafin depends on others, and he often must hire a driver.
“Instead of visiting parishes once every two months, as he does at present, Father Serafin could serve two or three parishes a week if he had a vehicle,” explained Father Ted. “To this end, the 2015 OCA-OCMC mission team members, with the blessing of Archbishop Alejo, are raising funds to purchase a used four-wheel drive vehicle for the sole purpose of serving these 12 parishes.” [Those interested in learning how they can help this effort may contact Father Ted at email@example.com.]
Fr. Serafin and Archbishop Alejo, seated, with 2015 mission team.
The team also is collecting mounted icons that can be sent to the villages. Established parishes or individuals with “extras” are invited to send them to Father Antonio Perdomo, 520 West Rosemary Ave, Pharr, TX 78577-0667, who will see to it that they are delivered.
“We hope that when the 2016 OCA-OCMC mission team returns to San Esteban, we will be able to deliver a reliable used vehicle and adorn the village churches with icons,” Father Ted concluded.
Those who would like to participate in next summer’s mission team may contact Father Ted at the e-mail address noted above or OCMC at 904-829-5132.
In the Warsaw Seminary chapel are [from left] Victor Lutes, Janine Alpaugh, John Shimchick, and Joseph Green.
Five young adults representing the Orthodox Church in America are among the forty-plus participants from around the world attending the international Orthodox youth festival, “Attaining Conciliarity,” at the Monastery of the Annunciation’s Academy here during the last week of August 2015.
In early 2015, each OCA diocese had been asked to select a young adult to participate in the festival. Representing the Archdiocese of Washington is Victor Lutes, while Janine Alpaugh, William Kopcha and Joseph Green are representing the Dioceses of New York and New Jersey, New England and the South respectively. Also representing the Diocese of New York and New Jersey is John Shimchick, who had visited the Church in Poland several years ago.
Archpriest Dr. Chad Hatfield, Chancellor of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY, is the keynote festival speaker. His topic is “The Conciliar Model of the OCA: The Dream of Saint Tikhon.” Also slated to address the gathering is Archpriest Vladimir Misijuk of Bialystok, Poland, who will speak on “Attaining Conciliarity: The Task of our Daily Life.” Father Vladimir is an alumnus of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary and former Syndesmos General Secretary.
“Since its establishment in Paris, France in 1953 as a way to connect Orthodox youth and young adults the world over, Syndesmos has worked closely with youth in North America, Western Europe and the traditional ‘Orthodox homelands,’” said Andrew Boyd, OCA Youth Director. “This was especially crucial in the late 20th century as the only means to connect Orthodox youth in eastern and central Europe with their counterparts elsewhere. While still a university student, the late Father John Meyendorff was among Syndesmos’ founders, while other Influential members of Syndesmos as young adults and beyond include the late Father Alexander Schmemann, the late Patriarch Ignatius of Antioch, Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow, Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, and countless others. The OCA has a strong tradition of supporting Syndesmos through its general secretariat, elected vice-presidency and board membership and by providing interns and staff members. In 2009, I had the honor of serving as a Syndesmos intern.”
Upon their arrival in Poland, the OCA representatives were hosted at the Warsaw Theological Seminary before leaving for Bialystok and Suprasl. As part of the festival program they will visit the Orthodox women’s monastery in Grabarka, one of the Orthodox Church of Poland’s holiest sites, and participate in celebrations marking the 35th anniversary of the Orthodox Youth Fellowship of Poland.
The Prophet Moses-whose name means "one who draws forth," or "is drawn from," that is, from the water-was the pinnacle of the lovers of wisdom, the supremely wise lawgiver, the most ancient historian of all. He was of the tribe of Levi, the son of Amram and Jochabed (Num. 26:59). He was born in Egypt in the seventeenth century before Christ. While yet a babe of three months, he was placed in a basket made of papyrus and covered with pitch, and cast into the streams of the Nile for fear of Pharaoh's decree to the mid-wives of the Hebrews, that all the male children of the Hebrews be put to death. He was taken up from the river by Pharaoh's daughter, became her adopted son, and was reared and dwelt in the King's palace for forty years. Afterward, when he was some sixty years old, he fled to Madian, where, on Mount Horeb, he saw the vision of the burning bush. Thus he was ordained by God to lead Israel and bring it out of the land of Egypt. He led Israel through the Red Sea as it were dry land and governed the people for forty years. He wrought many signs and wonders, and wrote the first five books of the Old Testament, which are called the Pentateuch. When he reached the land of Moab, he ascended Mount Nabau, on the peak called Phasga, and there, by divine command, he reposed in the sixteenth century before Christ, having lived for some 120 years. The first two Odes of the Old Testament, "Let us sing to the Lord" and "Attend, O heaven, and I will speak," were written by him. Of these hymns, the first was chanted by the shore of the Red Sea as soon as the Israelites had crossed it; the second, in the land of Moab, a few days before his repose. The Holy High Priest Aaron was the elder brother of the Holy Prophet Moses. He was appointed by God to serve as the spokesman of Moses before the people, and also before Pharaoh, in Egypt. Afterwards, in the wilderness, he was called to the ministry of the high priesthood, as narrated in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers in the Old Testament. The name Aaron means "enlightened."
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According to the opinion of many Fathers of the Church, based on an ancient tradition, this is the Zacharias whom, as our Lord said, the Jews slew between the temple and the altar (Matt. 23:35), first, because even after the Virgin Mary gave birth, he continued to refer to her as virgin and number her among the virgins; second, because Zacharias' son John was not found during the slaughter of the Innocents, since the elderly Elizabeth had taken him and carefully hid him while he was yet an infant, in an unnamed place somewhere in the desert, where, according to the Evangelist, "the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel" (Luke 1:80). When the child was not found, his father was slain by Herod's command.
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The feast today in honour of the Archangel Michael commemorates the great miracle he wrought when he delivered from destruction a church and holy spring named for him. The pagans, moved by malice, sought to destroy the aforesaid church and holy spring by turning the course of two rivers against them. But the Archangel appeared and, by means of the Cross and a great earthquake that shook the entire area, diverted the waters into an underground course. Henceforth, the name of that place changed from Colossae to Chonae, which means "funnels" in Greek.
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According to the ancient tradition of the Church, the Theotokos was born of barren and aged parents, Joachim and Anna, about the year 16 or 17 before the birth of Christ. Joachim was descended from the royal line of David, of the tribe of Judah. Anna was of the priestly tribe of Levi, a daughter of the priest Matthan and Mary, his wife.
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Today, the day following the Nativity of the most holy Theotokos, we celebrate the synaxis of Saints Joachim and Anna, honouring them as her parents.
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Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church