Archpriest Nilus Lerro fell asleep in the Lord on Holy Wednesday afternoon, April 28, 2021, at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, NY.
Ordained a deacon in 1971 and a priest in 1972, Father Nilus converted to Holy Orthodoxy in 2006. He served for a number of years as the Director of Student Life and Instructor at Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.
After his retirement from Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, Father Nilus was attached to the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection, Manhattan, NY, where he was an assistant to Archimandrite Christopher (Calin) until his health limited his activities. He continued on, however, as a father confessor to the parishioners of the Cathedral parish and several Orthodox clergy and faithful in the greater New York City area, until his recent move to an extended care facility.
Arvo Pärt’s a cappella choral work, O Holy Saint Nicholas, will be premiered in New York City in the Fall of 2021.
The premiere will take place during the opening of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center Ground Zero site, performed by Schola Cantorum and guest conducted by Benedict Sheehan (Grammy Nominated). The work was commissioned specially for this occasion by the Schola Cantorum and its founder and artistic director Nektarios S. Antoniou, who serves also as Archdiocesan Director of Culture & Principal Cantor at the National Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York.
The new choral work (lasting ca. 15 minutes) is based on the English text of a prayer from the Orthodox liturgy, taken from the troparion of the feast day of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker. Arvo Pärt has used this same text before – in the third part of his choral work Triodion and in Russian in Alleluia-Tropus, a work written for vocal ensemble.
St. Tikhon's Seminary recently witnessed the ordination of one of it's second-year seminarians to the diaconate. Mark Makarios comes to us from the Antiochian Archdiocese. He and our other Antiochian students have regularly graced our seminary chapel with beautiful Byzantine melodies and enlightened our classrooms with a slightly different perspective on topics that are not easily solved, all reminders that the Orthodox Church is more diverse than any one culture, language, or parish.
Bishop Thomas of the Antiochian Archdiocese ordained Mark to the diaconate at St. Mary's Antiochian Orthodox Church in Wilkes-Barre on March 14th, 2021. Many of his classmates, our dean, Fr. John Parker, and Mark's wife, Marian, were able to join in the celebration of this newly-ordained deacon of the Orthodox Church, saying:
Rest In Peace
STOTS alumnus Protopresbyter Michael (Mihajlo) Doder, and his wife Protinica Zorka both died of COVID only eight days apart in December.
Be mindful, O Lord, of all those who have fallen asleep in the hope of resurrection unto eternal life, especially Father Michael Doder and Matushka Protinica Zorka; pardon all their transgressions both voluntary and involuntary, whether in word, or deed or thought. Shelter them in a place of brightness, a place of verdure, a place of repose, whence all sickness, sorrow and sighing have fled away, and where the sight of Thy countenance rejoiceth all the Saints from all ages. Grant them Thy heavenly Kingdom, and portion of Thine ineffable blessings, and the enjoyment of Thine unending life.
Archpriest John Chupeck, retired Rector of Saints Peter and Paul Church, Syracuse, NY, fell asleep in the Lord on February 10, 2021.
Father John was born on May 17, 1944 to John and Mary (Homisak) Chupeck in Simpson, PA. He is the middle of five children: two older sisters Pauline (Somple) and Dorothy (Kantor), younger brother (Archpriest Joseph), wife Ellen (Holowatch) and younger sister Irene (Govrusik).
Father John graduated from Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan, PA in 1965. Metropolitan Ireney ordained him to the diaconate on December 19, 1966 and to the priesthood on December 25, 1966 at Protection of the Virgin Mary Cathedral, New York, NY. Father John was then assigned to Saint Michael’s Orthodox Church in Pueblo, CO. In 1969, he received a Bachelor of Arts from Colorado College. Later that year he was assigned to Saint Michael’s Orthodox Church in Old Forge, PA where he simultaneously served on the faculty at Saint Tikhon’s Seminary. In 1978 Father John served at Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Herkimer, NY, then transferred to Syracuse, NY.
Upon arriving in Syracuse, Father John was the associate pastor at Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church for 23 years and served at Saint Michael’s Orthodox Church as needed. Father John was appointed rector of Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church, Syracuse in 2001 and retired in September of 2020.
Ordination of Sub-deacon Shojil Abraham
"I thank Him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He judged me faithful, appointing me to His service." (1Tim 1:12)
By the grace of God, third-year seminarian, Shojil Abraham was ordained to the Holy Order of the Sub-Diaconate on Saturday, March 20th, by the hands of HG Zachariah Mar Nicholovos (Metropolitan of the Northeast American Diocese) at St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Levittown, NY.
Guests included clergy from across the diocese, Very Rev. John Parker, Dean of St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary, and seminarians from both St. Vladimir and St. Tikhon seminaries.
The absence of Very Rev. Dr. Mathai Yohannan Sankarathil Chor Episcopos, Vicar of St. Thomas Orthodox, was truly felt but the newly ordained sub-deacon was able to visit with our beloved Valiya Achen prior to the ordination service and receive his blessing. Achen was very much an integral part in the newly-ordained's upbringing and formation. While he wasn't able to join in person due to his health, we firmly believe his prayers were with Sdn. Abraham throughout the service and will be a fortress for him throughout his ministry.
Following the ordination service, was a public meeting under the leadership of HG Mar Nicholovos and Rev. Abey George, Assistant Vicar, St. Thomas Orthodox Church in Levittown, to congratulate and recognize the newly ordained Sub-Dn. Abraham. In their words of felicitation, both HG Mar Nicholovos and Fr. John reminded the newly ordained Sub-Deacon and all the faithful in attendance, on the importance of being a humble servant leader.
May God grant you many years! - AXIOS!
By Renin Cherian
"You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit." (John 15:16)
By the grace of God, third year seminarian, Antonios Roby Antony was ordained to the Holy Order of the Sub-diaconate on Saturday, March 13th by the hands of HG Zachariah Mar Nicholovos (Metropolitan of the Northeast American Diocese) at St. Gregorios Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (Floral Park).
Guests included clergy from across the diocese, Very Rev. John Parker, Dean of St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary, and seminarians from both St. Vladimir and St. Tikhon seminaries.
Following the ordination service, was a short public meeting under the leadership of HG Mar Nicholovos and Rev. Gregory Varghese (Vicar of St. Gregorios) to congratulate and recognize the newly ordained Sub-deacon Antony. In their words of felicitation, both HG Mar Nicholovos and Fr. John reminded the newly ordained Sub-deacon and all the faithful in attendance, on the importance of being diligent stewards in the Lord's vineyard and the task of ministering to the needs of the Church in this country.
By Renin Cherian
At the invitation of Fr. Chad Hatfield, President of St. Vladimir's Seminary, Fr. John Parker, Dean of St. Tikhon's presided and preached on the Sunday of Orthodoxy at St. Vladimir's Seminary's Three Hierarchs Chapel.
On Tuesday, March 9, 2021, the seminary community was singing the Saint Tikhon’s blues
Whether they experienced him with or without the mustache, hundreds of seminary students have had the honor of studying theology under Dr. Harry Boosalis over the years, from Cosmology to Christology to Eschatology. While first-year seminarians might at first feel rather befuddled upon hearing Doctor Harry’s very first query (“Do you know Jesus?”), no student can walk away from his courses without a deeper appreciation for how precious man is in the sight of God, as well as a deeper appreciation for the professor himself.
Outside of class, Dr. Harry has always been ready to meet with students to discuss life in “NEPA,” a potential thesis idea, or their future pastoral ministries (“How are you gonna explain that to the yiayias in your parish one day?”). He has visited church communities to give clear and understandable presentations on Orthodox theology. And with his intimate connections to the monastic brotherhood of the Holy Monastery of Iveron, Dr. Harry has led a number of trips with both students and professors to Mount Athos (with pit stops in Thessaloniki to boot). Travelling alongside one of their favorite Greek professors, members of the Saint Tikhon’s community have had the opportunity to visit the Panayia’s Garden in preparation for ordination or other ecclesial vocations in the world. And even those students unable to visit Iveron—along with its cherished “Portaitissa” icon of the Theotokos—have nevertheless travelled a somewhat shorter distance with Dr. Harry to witness the streaming of the “Kardiotissa” icon of the Mother of God right here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
“Should we take a break? Let’s take a break— You know what? Let’s keep going…”
But Dr. Harry’s role in the community extends beyond his love for the Panayia and her Divine Child: he has been the headliner of countless extracurricular events in the community, starring as the bass guitarist for such bands as “the Clerical Errors” and “the Dogmatix.” The many children of Saint Tikhon’s have always been ready to get up and dance for the band’s renditions of classic Motown hits and Beatles tunes; likewise, the seminarians who have spent time playing or singing alongside Dr. Harry are usually quick to commit to reunion gigs, especially in order to promote the school to which Dr. Harry has devoted his many talents for decades.
“I don’t know… Is that what you believed in your former tradition?”
While those unforgettable one-on-one theology quizzes have certainly elicited fear and trembling for seminarians lax in note-taking, the familiar voice and gleeful laughter of Dr. Harry has always been a comforting sound (which is no doubt why some of his unique mannerisms have lovingly been emulated by portions of the student body throughout the ages...). Even in the various books authored by Dr. Harry, many of which have been published by the Monastery’s press, one can read his simple yet profound paragraphs—exploring the wisdom of modern Elders and the boldness of the Early Fathers—with his exact tone of voice in mind.
“You know what guys? Why don’t we save that for next semester? Is that okay?”
But, alas, the time has finally come for Dr. Harry to move on. Newly a citizen of Greece, the beloved professor leaves behind so many students and alumni, faculty and administration, friends and neighbors who will never forget how his efforts and his charm have enhanced their lives. The Saint Tikhon’s students celebrated him with a personalized concert dedicated to his love for music, and the graduating class even honored him with the prestigious Father Alexander Atty Service Award on Tuesday. He was also presented with heartfelt messages from all of his colleagues, not to mention a freshly composed icon of Saints Tikhon of Zadonsk and Tikhon of Moscow, alongside his own patron, the venerable Hieromartyr Haralambos. As Dr. Harry Boosalis steps down from his role at this school, we all wish him many blessed years and safe travels, and we sincerely pray that the Most Holy Lady might protect and shelter him all the days of his life.
It is with great excitement that we announce the ordination of Subdeacon Maximus Gibson to the diaconate. The newly-ordained Deacon Maximus was ordained this past Sunday on one of the preparatory Sundays for Great Lent. He was thrown straight into the deep end: his first service was a Vigil to the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, and the Vigil service is a liturgical challenge. He is well prepared and learning fast.
It was particularly poignant to watch Deacon Maximus and his godfather, Deacon Michael Rehmet, who was serving at the ordination, exchange looks from time to time during the service. Any ordination is full of meaning and importance, but this one seemed to have a little extra something.
Looking on, also, were Deacon Maximus's wife, Michelle, and daughter, Madeline. We all were blessed to be able to join in this significant next step in the lives of the Gibson family as they continue to prepare for a life of service to Christ's Church.
Deacon Maximus, axios!
By Dn. Ignatius Strange
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
I am pleased to announce our First Annual St. Nicholai Lecture, scheduled for Tuesday, March 23, 7:00-8:30PM.
The Lecture is the spring coefficient to the October St. Tikhon Lecture, and is to be scheduled each Spring, on or around March 18, the Feast of St. Nicholai.
Our inaugural lecture will be given by His Grace, The Rt. Rev. Irenej (Dobrijevic), Bishop of the Diocese of Eastern America of the Serbian Orthodox Church. His Grace is an alumnus of St TIkhon's. His Grace wrote his M.Div. Thesis on St. Nicholai, "Bishop Nicholai Velimirovich: A 1921 Mission to America."
The Lecture will be entitled, "St. Nicholai: His Last Years".
Students are expected in person for the evening. It will be livestreamed for the benefit of the wider world through our youtube and facebook pages.
Limited space is available for others. Please ask me directly.
Please mark your calendars to be present for March 23, 7:00-8:30PM.
Glory to God for all things.
Your Servant in Christ,
Fr. John Parker
SOUTH CANAAN, PA – Today, St. Tikhon’s Seminary proudly celebrates the 45th Anniversary of Archpriest John Kowalczyk’s Ordination to the Holy Priesthood. Father John is the longest-serving adjunct faculty member of our theological school, teaching in the Department of Pastoral Praxis since 1987, and serving as Director of Field Education.
Father John is a graduate of St. Tikhon’s Seminary (1975), Marywood University (M.S. in Religious Education in 1981), and the Moscow Theological Academy (Candidate of Science in Theology in 1996).
He received full privileges for group psychotherapy from Fairview Hospital and Medical Staff in 1994, and serves as contract chaplain at S.C.I. Waymart’s Forensic Treatment Center, where he has completed over 7,500 Preliminary Religious Assessments on forensic inmates for the Treatment Team since 1987. Through his efforts, St. Tikhon’s seminarians are able to pursue semester internships in prison ministry at the S.C.I. Center in nearby Waymart as part of their field education.
He was recently appointed executive member of the Board of Directors of Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry, having previously served as secretary of the organization for ten years. He has traveled extensively throughout the country on behalf of OCPM, advocating for prison inmates in need of Christ and pastoral care. He has addressed the All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America, the National Convention of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, and the Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, on behalf of OCPM.
He has been a guest lecturer at Drexel University’s College of Medicine for the past three years, and most recently presented a workshop at the Annual Forensic Rights and Treatment Conference, entitled “Exploring the Spiritual Dynamic of Healing When Working through Bereavement, Especially When Dealing with the Trauma of Death Notification for the Mentally Ill Inmate.” He has also guest lectured at Marquette University, Villanova University, and the University of Scranton.
He has written numerous articles on Prison Ministry and has been interviewed several times by Ancient Faith Radio regarding the work of prison ministry and the OCN. He has also produced numerous teaching videos on prison ministry, available on the official OCPM website.
The son of Walter, of blessed memory, and Zofia Kowalczyk, Fr. John was born in Dresdenko, Poland. He immigrated with his parents to the United States in 1958 and grew up in Yonkers, NY. He was married to the former Katherine Labick on October 12, 1975; she has worked together with him throughout his career, as Matushka in the parish, and bursar in the finance office at the Seminary. They are the proud parents of two children, Sophia (married to Robert Wolf) and Nicholas.
Father Kowalczyk was ordained to the Holy Priesthood on December 14, 1975 by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Ireney, of blessed memory, at the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Yonkers, New York. Over the next ten years, he served as an assistant priest at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Minneapolis, MN; rector of St. Mark’s Church in Wrightstown, PA; and rector of Assumption of the Holy Virgin Church in Philadelphia, PA.
On February 1, 1985, Fr. Kowalczyk was transferred to St. Michael’s Church in Jermyn, where he has faithfully served the large parish family there for the past 35 years. His pastorate in Jermyn has been marked by significant improvements of the church complex: an expansion of the temple, the addition of numerous beautiful icons, and the renovation of the parish hall, as well as monumental spiritual and numerical growth of the community.
Over these many years, he has shepherded diverse flocks of immigrants from overseas, native-born North Americans, and those who have chosen Holy Orthodoxy as the one, true Faith. He has been personally committed to the growth of each one of his sheep, leading them in “The Way” of Christ, and to the growth of the parishes and dioceses he has served, as well as the entire Orthodox Church in America.
During the past four decades of service in the Diocese of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, he has served as Diocesan Chancellor to three hierarchs (Archbishop Herman, Archbishop Tikhon, and Archbishop Mark). He also worked from 1987 to 2005 as the Editor of the Eastern PA publication, Your Diocese Alive in Christ. During that time, he provided the “Interview with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church” and “Canonization of Fr. Alexis Toth by the Orthodox Church in America” in St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, and “The Millennium Pilgrimage” in The Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Father John has been one of the earliest members and a long-time champion of Orthodox Christians for Life, the pro-life movement of our Church in this country. He has appeared on the national stage for decades and walked with hierarchs, clergy and laypersons alike in the annual “March for Life” in our nation’s capital almost every year. He has authored An Orthodox View of Abortion, published in 1977 by Light and Life Publishing, Minneapolis, MN, and he has also written numerous articles on the Sanctity of Life.
Additionally, he has served as the Guest Speaker at the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black, and at the Annual Christianity Conference.
On the world scene, he represented St. Tikhon’s Seminary at the SYNDESMOS International Theological Conference in Poland (1989), Moscow (1992), and Finland (1998). He is the recipient of four prestigious awards: the Order of St. Mary Magdalene, presented by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Vasily of Poland, of blessed memory; the Jeweled Cross and the Order of St. Innocent, awarded by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America; and the Jeweled Cross, presented by His Holiness, Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow, of blessed memory.
An exemplary priest, an outstanding professor, and a loving pastor, Father Kowalczyk is best known for his teaching on “the ministry of presence” – the need for those in ministry to be present, to “be there,” for those in difficulty – to listen with one’s heart as well as one’s ears – and to offer the empathy of Christ, the Good Shepherd Who loves us more than we love ourselves.
In congratulating Archpriest John on his 45th Anniversary, Archbishop Michael, Rector of St. Tikhon’s Seminary, lauded his remarkable service: “Your many and varied labors have not been for your own glory or personal gain, but that the Holy Church might be strengthened. We give thanks to the Lord for all you have done in His Name with excellence over the past 45 years, together with Matushka Kathy, who has been the consummate help-mate and co-laborer in your ministry.
“On this milestone anniversary, it is my joy to join with all those who love you throughout our Church in wishing you good health, much happiness, and continued success in your every effort on behalf of our Lord. May your work in the Vineyard of Christ continue to prosper, and may the Holy Spirit by whose grace you were ordained to the Priesthood continue to guide you for many blessed years to come. Mnogaya Lyeta!”