Glory to Jesus Christ!
The Elsie Skvir Ganister Foundation Fund provides financial assistance for organizations and parishes with innovative approaches to advancing the mission of Orthodoxy in the United States. June 30 is the annual deadline for submitting grant applications, and recipients are announced in the fall of each year.
Founded in 2001, the Elsie Skvir Ganister Foundation Fund is a component fund of the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania, located in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The foundation takes its name from the village of Ganister in Central Pennsylvania, where immigrants drawn there by jobs in the limestone quarry founded St. Mary's Holy Assumption parish in 1916.
Favor is given to proposals that address priority needs of the Orthodox Church in America, especially those that do so in catalytic ways. The selection process also weighs leadership experience, clarity of goals, the presence of a stable funding base, and faithfulness to the teachings and ministry of the OCA. Applicants must articulate how their undertaking will have a positive impact on a specific priority need, without duplicating other programs or projects already serving the Church.
Grants are modest in size, generally ranging from $500 to $3,000. But, properly used, they have the potential to jump-start valuable initiatives that might not otherwise get off the ground. Examples of grants given over the years include:
Fund a guest speaker program to help seminarians develop their pastoral skills
Provide tutoring materials and sports equipment for a church-run after-school program for inner-city Latino children
Translate invaluable music textbooks from Russian to English
Purchase digital recorders to distribute Orthodox radio broadcasts world-wide
Develop a "mission starter" kit
Print materials regarding human services for aging Orthodox Christians
Support continuing education opportunities for clergy
Underwrite the Profiles of Ministry program to assess and counsel seminarians on their strengths and weaknesses
Applicants must be qualifying 501c(3) entities as described under IRS Section 509(a)(1). Grants will not be considered for endowments, ongoing operational support, annual campaigns or event sponsorships, debt reduction, research grants, or support of individuals.
To receive an application, contact the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania, 201 West Fourth Street, Williamsport, PA 17701, or visit the Foundation's website, www.fcfpartnership.org. Applications will be reviewed, and recommendations made by the Advisory Board of the Elsie Skvir Ganister Foundation Fund, a donor-advised component fund of the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania.
We are humbly asking for your prayers!
Considering the Coronavirus situation, the Seminary is not accepting visitors at this point. We appreciate your willingness to cooperate in this matter.
We are working hard to get our live-video virtual classrooms prepared for next week. School is NOT closed. As of now, we are planning our full coursework according to our routine schedule beginning again Monday online.
Again, keep us in your prayers!
by Fr. Gregory White
On Tuesday, the 25th of February, 2020, approximately twenty-five faithful people, consisting of clergy, seminarians, and catechumens from local parishes as well as from St. Tikhon’s Seminary, attended a presentation sponsored by Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre, PA, where the priest is Fr. Gregory White, an alumnus of St. Tikhon’s. The event started as part of the parish’s weekly study group, and due to public interest it was offered to the surrounding community.
The guest speaker, Dr. David C. Ford, Professor of Church History at St. Tikhon’s, presented on the theme, "Gems of Wisdom from St. John Chrysostom in Brand-New Translation.” Everyone commented on Dr. David's ability to bring the writings of St. John to life, while also conveying to the audience a welcomed contemporary context through his own new translations from the original Greek.
Multiple people remarked that they felt like St. John was actually present in the room with us. One Matushka said she never had a relationship with St. John, and now she has experienced him in a personal way and will be asking for his prayers and intercessions in her prayer life.
Many people felt the presentation served as a wonderful pre-Lenten kickoff, and are already looking forward to the addition of future events and guest speakers. The positive feedback was unanimous!
Dr. David's zeal and love for God and His Church was evident to everyone present, and we all departed with a sense of God's love and care for us through His Saints.
By: Subdeacon Maximus Gibson
On Monday, February 24, 2020, Fr. Chrysostom Koutloumousianos, Ph.D., visited St. Tikhon’s Seminary and delivered a lecture to the seminary community entitled, “Seeking the True Self: Self-Knowledge and the Inner Kingdom,” followed by a brief question and answer session. Fr. Chrysostom is a hieromonk of Koutloumous Monastery, Mount Athos, and a research fellow of the Cambridge Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies.
Speaking in the seminary refectory, Fr. Chrysostom counselled that the more we know ourselves, the more we are able to repent; and the more we repent, the more the grace of God can work in us. “We must have a few minutes each day to visit our own hearts,” said Fr. Chrysostom. “A fixed time to cut off all connections, electronic or noetic, to be in the presence of God, not making our experience our object: to be as silent as God.” Fr. Chrysostom provided some practical advice for achieving these moments of silence, self-understanding, and waiting for the Lord, as well as describing the process of unearthing the inner kingdom through ascetic practice and prayer. The lecture was recorded and is available for listening here: The Spirit of St. Tikhon's Podcast.
By: Subdeacon Maximus Gibson
On Friday, January 24, 2020, St. Tikhon’s Rector, Archbishop Michael (Dahulich) of New York and New Jersey; Dean, Archpriest John Parker; Board Member, Bishop Thomas (Joseph) of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic; Hieromonk Herman (Majkrzak) of St. Tikhon’s Monastery; and a large group of St. Tikhon’s faculty, staff, seminarians, and their families joined Metropolitan Tikhon and other Orthodox Bishops, clergy, and faithful from several jurisdictions across the United States, including faculty, staff, and seminarians from OCA sister seminary St. Vladimir’s, at the March for Life in Washington, DC.
This March for Life was particularly historic. For the first time since the March began in protest of Roe v. Wade in 1973, a sitting President of the United States expressed his support for life in the womb by addressing participants in person at the March.
The day began with Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, DC. All marchers then gathered on the National Mall, where His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medeia led the opening prayer on the main stage for the pre-March rally.
Metropolitan Tikhon served a molieben on the National Mall before beginning the March, entreating the Lord in His mercy to end the scourge of abortion in our land. He addressed the Orthodox faithful: “Today, we march in solidarity with many others from across our nation to show our government leaders our commitment to life—to life that begins from the very moment of conception.” He also expressed the love and forgiveness Christ has for all mankind, in words characteristic of our Orthodox approach to supporting the cause of life: “We show our nation that we can allow no excuse for abortion. At the same time, we proclaim the love and forgiveness that Christ offers to all of us, and we extend our open arms in love and mercy to those who have participated in the sin of abortion.”
After Metropolitan Tikhon’s address, Orthodox marchers were led in hymns by Hieromonk Herman and St.Tikhon’s seminarians throughout the course of the March towards the U.S. Supreme Court. Many non-Orthodox marchers were noticeably touched by the hymns sung in love by the faithful, inquiring about the hymns, and marching close by in peace and solidarity. Escorted by clergy of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Washington, DC, an icon and relics of The Holy Innocents accompanied the faithful on the March.
By: Deacon Peter Simko
At the conclusion of classes on the first Wednesday back from winter break, faculty, administration, seminarians, and guests gathered on the shore of the pond adjacent Saint Tikhon’s Road. The water was cold -- but not quite icey. Along with a small choir and a few servers and readers, seminary Dean, Father John Parker, served the Great Blessing of the Waters. At the conclusion of the service, a large processional cross was submerged into the pond in the form of a cross as all sang the festal troparion.
Thus began the procession to the seminary campus. Carrying a veritable number of bottles of Holy Water, the group sang the troparion joyfully over and over as Father John blessed the Saint John the Divine Memorial Chapel, the garage, the Metropolitan Leonty Dorm, the swimming pool, and the Seminary building proper (including all of the rooms -- and personages -- inside each structure). The halls of the seminary were quickly filled with splashes of Holy Water, radiant voices, smiles, and the grace of God. The service and the procession, led by the cross, concluded in the Saint Nikolai Chapel, where Father John shared a word with those participating in the yearly blessing.
His Eminence, Archbishop Michael, Rector of St Tikhon's Orhtodox Theological Seminary delivered the 37th Annual Schmemann Lecture at St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary on Thursday, January 30, the altar feast of Three Hierarchs Chapel. This year's theme, inaugurated at St Tikhon's during the 2019 October Lecture series, was Autocephaly: 50 Years. Archbishop Michael's Keynote Lecture, "The Gift of Autocephaly" will be available at Ancient Faith Radio shortly. St Tikhon's Dean, Archpriest John Parker, gave one of three workshop lectures earlier in the day. His lecture, "Autocephaly and Evangelism" will also be posted on AFR. Many thanks to Seminary President, Archpriest Chad Hatfield, for the generous invitations to St Tikhon's leadership. And we offer our congratulations to our Sister Seminary on their Patronal Feast, and for a successful and edifying day.
From January 18-21, Fr. John Parker, Dean of St Tikhon's, visited various parishes in Colorado. Saturday morning, Fr. John gave a retreat on "Personal Evangelism" at Holy Transfiguration Cathedral, Denver, at the invitation of Fr. David Thatcher. That evening, he gave an introductory talk about St. Tikhon's at St Herman's Orthodox Church in Littleton at the invitation of Fr. John Armstrong. Sunday, he concelebrated and preached at Holy Theophany, at the invitation of Fr. Anthony Karbo.
On Monday, he joined eight priests (many of whom are St. Tikhon's alumni), a deacon, and hundreds of faithful, in the blessing of waters at the Continental Divide at Monarch Pass (elevation 11,312′). Two ice crosses were made for the occasion and each were implanted in the frozen waters on each side of the divide. As the ice melts in the late spring, it will feed the various river systems and eventually end up in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Fr. John reflected:
"I was struck by this beautiful opportunity to witness such a unique Theophany blessing. It was amazing to see so many faithful assembled in one place. This simple gathering has such an immense impact on the continent. I was reminded of our seminary and the blessings that flow forth from this humble gathering place. Each year at graduation in the late spring, our students go forth to care for and nurture the parishes all across this continent."
The seminary community relishes opportunities to gather together and the chili cookoff is no exception. The excitement around this recent gathering was heightened as it was a battle between the West Coast and the South for the best chili. While the kids enjoyed a variety of games, the adults were hard at work campaigning for their choice of best chili. In the end, it was a Lone Star sweep, as the Texan students took the top three spots.
Second place winner (and last year’s champion), Deacon Herman Garrison (‘20), was happy to hand off the trophy to a fellow Texan. “It was a heated competition,” he said, “but I’m glad my brother next door took home the top spot. As I graduate, I’m confident Texas will continue its dynasty in the St. Tikhon’s chili cookoff and my Lone Star brothers and sisters will represent our wonderful state with pride.” All three winners, Thanasi Kombos, Dn. Herman Garrison, and Subdeacon Maximus Gibson all come from a 125 mile radius in Texas.
The winner, Thanasi Kombos (‘22), was excited for his rookie win, "This is such a wonderful annual tradition. Coming from Texas, where chili is very popular, it is great to get together as a seminary community and enjoy a lot of great food and warm fellowship. I look forward to doing this again next year. And hopefully I can retain my title too!"
For the third year in a row, Fr. John Kowalczyk gave a three-hour workshop at the Drexel Medical College 27th Forensic Conference, held on Wednesday, December 4th, 2019.
Fr. John Kowalczyk stated the following: “Working with mentally ill inmates who are in the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) or Solitary Confinement, one will be confronted with inmates who have been isolated from the normal prison setting.” Fr. Kowalczyk stated, “One has to minister with compassion and unconditional positive regard with an open heart and become an instrument in restoring his humanity with kindness and dignity. This restoration will aid and help restore purpose, direction and meaning into his already broken life.” Fr. John has been involved in this “Out-of-Cell” program with inmates for the past five years in SCI Waymart.
During the workshop, Fr. John made the following five educational objectives:
1. Examine the trauma of the mentally ill inmate who finds himself in solitary confinement.
2. Explore the impact of a chaplain with a caring heart as a necessary tool to work through this isolation of the RHU.
3. Analyze the concept of guilt and feeling of helplessness from a spiritual dynamic when the mentally ill inmate finds himself isolated, broken and separated from his familiar mental health unit.
4. Recognize the importance of offering prayer when one appears out-of-control and the life of the inmate appears unmanageable.
5. Integrate positive memories and family religious celebrations as a means of healing during this time of isolation and try to maintain this caring and pastoral relationship.
On Wednesday, November 13, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the feast of Saint John Chrysostom, and commemorated the seventh anniversary of the election of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy His Eminence, Archbishop Michael of New York and New Jersey, Secretary of the Holy Synod, read the following proclamation of the Holy Synod announcing the anniversary celebrations for the Canonization of Saint Herman of Alaska, and the reception of the Tomos of Autocephaly.