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.
By: Deacon Peter Simko
On February 11, 2020, members of the Saint Tikhon’s community gathered in the Saint Nikolai Chapel of the seminary building to participate in a brief service for the blessing of throats. Saint Blaise the Hieromartyr of Sebaste, who is remembered by the Church for saving a young child who had a fish bone stuck in his throat, is commemorated by touching two crossed candles to the neck after they have been blessed with holy water. The service is celebrated for the healing of any throat sickness or other ailment. In the East, Saint Blaise has been an intercessor for throat problems since the sixth century.
In attendance were seminarians, their families, faculty, staff, and even a hierodeacon from the Monastery. The Reverend Michael Shepherd and the Reverend Silouan Burns served.
A Women’s Retreat, sponsored by the Department Curriculum and Education of the Diocese of Philadelphia and Eastern PA, will be held on Saturday, February 22, 2020 in St. Tikhon’s Monastery Trapeza..
The topic for this year’s retreat is: “Preparing our Hearts for Great Lent”
The speaker will be Mother Gabriella, who serves as the Abbess of Dormition of the Mother of God Monastery in Rives Junction, Michigan.
The cost for the retreat is $10 which includes breakfast and lunch. It is open to all women.
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.
The feast of St. Nicholas was a double blessing for many of the students and families at St. Tikhons. First, everyone was treated to a wonderful meal prepared by seminary cook Zena "YaYa" Parker. During the dinner, a special guest , St. Nicholas, arrived to tell the children about the Nativity season and the Incarnation of Christ. After a night of games and photos, the families received a myriad of gifts for the Nativity season. We wish to thank FOCA (Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America), the parishes, and all the individuals who made Christmas possible for so many families at St. Tikhons.
Members of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) Board of Directors gathered for their annual Fall Meeting at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, November 18-20.
Through a live video link, OCMC Missionary Floyd Frantz shared with the Board the work he is doing in Alaska, based at St. Herman Seminary in Kodiak. After 18 years of service in Romania where he helped the Church establish a much-needed substance abuse counseling ministry, he is now helping the Church in Alaska do the same through a program called “Freedom Challenge.” The scope includes all forms of addiction, not only alcohol and drugs, but also the Internet and related distractions which affect many people in the state.
The Board also heard reports on OCMC’s work in various other locations throughout the world such as Guatemala, Korea, Albania, Kenya, and a potential new opportunity in Colombia.
This was the first meeting of the Board since it approved the organization’s innovative one-page strategic plan. OCMC Executive Director Fr. Martin Ritsi and OCMC Missionary Director Dn. James Nicholas were pleased to report progress on all aspects of the strategic plan, which is primarily focused on increasing the Mission Center’s capacity to do the important work of sharing the Orthodox Christian Faith around the world.
Board President John Colis led the members through an exercise aimed at better defining and applying OCMC’s core purpose as the agency begins development of the next iteration of the strategic plan early in 2020.
During a review of the organization’s financial performance this fiscal year, Fr. Martin was also able to share that the Mission Center received another clean audit of finances from its external independent auditors.
At Vespers on the evening of November 19 in the church of the adjacent St. Tikhon’s Monastery, Board Members, along with seminarians, their families, and the monks were able to venerate and be anointed with myrrh from a miraculous streaming icon of the Mother of God Kardiotissa (Tender Heart) that was brought from St. George Orthodox Church in nearby Taylor, PA. The Kardiotissa icon has been exuding great amounts of myrrh for seven years and is responsible for many healing miracles. Upon his return to the Mission Center, Fr. Martin blessed the OCMC staff with some of the myrrh as well.
That same evening, OCMC Board Member, and St. Tikhon’s Seminary Dean and Chief Operating Officer, Fr. John Parker hosted a dinner for board members at his home on campus. Joining the group at dinner was the Seminary Rector and long-time faculty member, His Eminence Archbishop Michael of New York and New Jersey of the Orthodox Church in America.
The Board welcomed five new members. His Grace Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, recently appointed liaison for OCMC to the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the Uniited States, addressed the meeting via a live video link. Two of the new members were present at the meeting: Dr. Henry C. Van Zanten of Hermitage, PA, from the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA and Dr. Kosta M. Zinis of Westminster, CO, from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Two others were also recently added: Mrs. Stellee S. Papadeas of Greenwood Village, CO, from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Fr. John Anderson of Burke, VA, from the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.
The OCMC Board of Directors would like to thank Fr. John Parker and everyone at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and Monastery for their hospitality and Fr. Mark Leisure from St. George Church for sharing the miraculously streaming icon of the Mother of God Kardiotissa with all in attendance.
By: Dn. Herman Garrison
St. Tikhon’s was recently the site for a thought-provoking conference, organized by STOTS professors Drs. David and Mary Ford that centered around today’s ethical and moral issues facing all the faithful in the Church. The “Speaking the Truth in Love” conference was a continuation of the conversation started at a similar conference held at Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY this past March which the Fords also helped organize. The Jordanville conference was described as more “theoretical in nature”; however, the focus for the St. Tikhon’s conference was to be more practical. Dr. David said, “[the purpose] is for inspiring and helping our youth, especially to live in Christ with the joy and peace of purity in mind, heart, and body. We also hope this conference will help to equip our clergy and laity with the pastoral and apologetic tools necessary to deal resourcefully and effectively with the current societal challenges relating to sexuality.”
The conference was opened with a keynote address entitled “Trusting our Tradition in Facing Modern Challenges” from His Eminence, Archbishop Michael, rector of STOTS. The weekend continued with a collection of 15 speakers that encompassed STOTS faculty, STOTS alumni, monastics, medical professionals, bioethics experts, and more. The presentations ranged from the theological, apologetical, ethical, and medical. The diverse audience and presenters were able to interact during Q&A sessions where practical solutions were discussed concerning problems facing many Orthodox clergy, professionals, and young people. Attendees came from as far away as California and Idaho.
Co-organizer Dr. Mary Ford, summarizing the experience of the conference, stated, “There was a great sense of pastoral care and love expressed by all the speakers for those caught up in the moral confusion of our time – including those engaging in sexual behaviors contrary to the teachings of the Church. Many commented on what a great conference it was in terms of the balanced, caring approaches of the speakers, the large amount of helpful information given, and the excellent quality of the talks overall. We hope many people who could not come because of services for St. Michael's Day in their parishes, or distance, or other commitments will listen to the talks on AFR to be better informed, strengthened in their faith, and inspired!"
Audio recordings of the conference are available in the Special Events section on Ancient Faith Radio. It is also planned that books based on the talks given at both conferences will be published in the next year or two. The book from the Jordanville conference is scheduled to appear next spring from Holy Trinity Monastery Press.