By: Dn. Herman Garrison
OCA Chancellor Fr. Alexander Rentel’s discussion on the Tradition of autocephaly was a fitting end to the 2019 Fall Lecture Series. Fr. Alexander’s expertise in canon law and unique perspective were a wonderful capstone on this month’s theme of Autocephaly.
“Thank you on behalf of the OCA,” Fr. Alexander began, “as this prepares all of us for the 50th anniversary. It is not a celebration marked by excess feasting focusing on what we have accomplished. However, this is a chance for renewal, reorientation, and repentance, to bring our mind back into conformity to the mind of Christ”. Fr. Alexander noted that our own journey in the Church begins with baptism and that “we are charged to go and carry the good news to every nook and cranny of the earth and baptize everyone in the name of the Holy Trinity into the Catholic Church”.
He underscores that it is important to understand what Autocephaly really means. “There really is no idea of independence in the Church”, he stated, “for the Church to be truly Catholic, it must speak to everyone in their own language and genius. Autocephaly is nothing more than underlining the Catholicity in a particular corner of the world”. He then drew attention to the fact that the term “autocephaly” doesn’t appear anywhere in the Church canons.
“What it can and should mean has to be understood in the corpus of canons, which is a body of concillary texts that date from the 4th to 9th centuries,'' he described. The particular canons discussed in the lecture were I Nicea 8 (commonly known as “one bishop, one city”), Antioch 9, Apostolic 34, and 1 Nicea 5. Fr. Alexander says that these canons are important in discussing authority “‘One Bishop, in one city’ represents Christ,” he noted, “ and this provides us with our first ‘shade of meaning’”. He continued, “what a bishop does has to be contemplentary with his neighboring districts and all of this work needs to be overseen by the bishop of the metropolis…all these must work together and fully in the name of the Holy Trinity...all in concord…”
Fr. Alexander argued that authority also must have accountability, “when one bishop makes a decision, he is obliged to make a case to his brothers. He is accountable to the Synod and that Synod is accountable to all Orthodoxy in the world. These bishops act in concert with all the bishops in the Orthodox world...the activity of the synod, are not just there to determine XYZ...what they’re arriving at is true and authentic so that an unblemished offering may be given to God. Autocephaly is only authentic and true when it serves the Catholicity of the Church”.
Fr. Alexander posited that an autocephalous Church must meet three criteria: it has its own head or primate not elected or confirmed by another body, it has territorial integrity in a geographical area, and it confects its own chrism. The OCA has shown maturity in dealing with its own issues; however, Fr. Alexander highlighted that the Tomos of autocephaly contains a paradox within its mandates. “The Tomos mandates that we are to remain in communion with our sister Churches in North America; therefore, we do not meet the second criteria,” he noted, “however, I put forward that this is an imperfect concord but guarantees Catholicity. The Tomos admits to being a creative solution to the canonical irregularities of America”.
He concluded the lecture encouraging the faithful that this mandate is a mission toward unity; in fact, we already have a firm foundation upon which we can build. “Our Tomos gives us a mandate to work toward unity in America. It is a prophetic document that gives us a clear mission...that the Catholic Church will flourish here. There is one consistent message. We have been unwavering toward the promise of one, unified Church. Not backhanded or forced, but a true catholicity. We have a unity in Faith. We must hold on to that and build upon that”.
Check out “Autocephaly with a Canonical Perspective” for the audio from this wonderful lecture. If you’d like to see more of these lectures in the future, please consider donating to St. Tikhon’s to continue these thought-provoking and enriching lectures.
Orthodox Inter-Seminary Movement Returns to STOTS
By: Subdeacon Peter Simko
On the first weekend in November, over forty visiting guests from Orthodox seminaries across North America descended on South Canaan, Pennsylvania. Representatives from Saint Herman’s, Saint Vladimir’s, Christ the Saviour, Holy Trinity, and Hellenic College Holy Cross gathered for the biannual Orthodox Inter-Seminary (OISM) Retreat, hosted by Saint Tikhon’s.
According to the group’s constitution, OISM exists “in order to create a closer fellowship among students enrolled in Orthodox Christian schools of theological education of all jurisdictions, to affirm our common traditions and gain an appreciation of other cultures and traditions, to promote understanding and unity among all Orthodox Christians, to build a network for future clerical and lay cooperation.” The organization was first gathered over half a century ago, participating in what were usually called “Encounters” by the seminarians in those days.
OISM’s recent reinstitution was the fruit of the efforts of Archbishop — then Father — Michael (Dahulich). In 2003, he invited students from each of the Orthodox seminary campuses to Saint Tikhon’s, and within a year, officer positions were filled and the students were taking the reins of the organization.
At the Spring 2019 Retreat at Saint Vladimir’s, OISM President Isaac Lampart (STOTS ‘19) passed on the torch to Paul Murray (HCHC ‘20), who worked with a host of school representatives, including OISM Treasurer Peter Simko (STOTS ‘21), to organize the Fall Retreat with the theme, “Christ: Beauty Incarnate.” Over the next several months, the OISM Board--along with the help of several generous donors and dozens of STOTS students, faculty, and staff--labored to prepare a successful event, featuring three wonderful speakers in the Very Reverend Archimandrite Doctor Alexis (Trader), Doctor Timothy Patitsas, and Jonathan Pageau.
The Retreat kicked off on Friday, November 1st, with several OISM members arriving early to participate in a special festal Byzantine Liturgy held in the Monastery’s All Saints of North America Chapel, a fitting location for the start of the weekend. The evening began the official schedule of activities with a pierogi supper, a Molieben service celebrated by STOTS Dean, the Very Reverend Archpriest John Parker, in the STOTS Saint Nikolai Chapel, and a talk by Father Alexis entitled: “A Jealous Love for the Beauty of God’s House.” Father Alexis adamantly encouraged the attendees to desire and create beautiful Orthodox Churches and sacred spaces in the midst of an often ugly world.
On Saturday, a Hierarchical Liturgy was celebrated by STOTS Rector, His Eminence, Archbishop Michael, including the ordination of Subdeacon Doctor Gregory Matlak (STOTS ‘20) to the Holy Diaconate. OISM members from participating schools helped sing with the Mission Choir during each of the Saturday services hosted in the Monastery Church. Students were blessed to be anointed with oil brought by His Eminence from a recent visit to Jerusalem and the site of Saint Stephen the Protomartyr’s stoning. After a General Assembly Meeting for the group (which began with a blessing from His Eminence and a note on the importance of acting out our Orthodox unity), the Very Reverend Archpriest John Kowalczyk introduced the next speaker after sharing a reflection about his time as an officer in OISM in the 1970s. Next up was Jonathan Pageau, who gave a presentation entitled, “Christ and the Deisis as an Ontological Hierarchy,” focusing on the “unfolding” of the famous Deisis configuration and symbolism in Orthodox iconography and design.
After lunch and an opportunity for students to visit the Monastery Bookstore and the Metropolitan Museum of Orthodox History in America, the next speaker, Doctor Timothy Patitsas, was introduced by Father John Parker, who encouraged the OISM membership in their obligation to preach to the non-Orthodox as they take on vocations across the continent. Doctor Timothy then spoke on “the Beautiful Time,” explaining the important difference between chronos and kairos, and how our lives need to be organized according to the good and proper use of time, which seems to spiral in the life of the Church. Each talk was recorded. The evening came to a close with the Resurrection Vigil at the Monastery Church, again sung by the Mission Choir, followed by a large dinner, a basketball game in the seminary’s new Gymnasium/Convocation Hall, and a campfire at the nearby residence of STOTS Faculty Benedict and Maria Sheehan.
The OISM Retreat concluded on Sunday after Divine Liturgy and coffee hour. Students expressed their enjoyment of the food, the fellowship, and the genuine hospitality offered by the entire Saint Tikhon’s community through the course of one of the largest OISM Retreats in memory. The next OISM Retreat is planned to be at Hellenic College Holy Cross in the spring.
St. Tikhon's Monastery will be the setting for the annual women’s retreat sponsored by the Department of Curriculum and Education of the OCA Diocese of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania on Saturday, November 16, 2019.
Fr Theodore Petrides serves Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Reading, PA, will speak on “We Are Pilgrims On This Earth." Fr Theodore has spoken at conferences and retreats on various subjects including spiritual direction and contemporary Spiritual Fathers. Fr Theodore recently edited a book from the Holy Mountain entitled, Ascetics in the World which was published by St. Nikodemus the Hagiorite Publication Society and is for sale at St Tikhon's Seminary Bookstore & Press. He also currently teaches Pastoral Care and Counseling at St Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary and, in November, is launching a daily podcast entitled, Signs in Our Times, on Ancient Faith Radio.
Registration and continental breakfast will begin at 9:30 a.m., followed by the first session at 10:00 a.m.
The $10.00 registration fee includes lunch. Deadline for registration is Saturday, November 9, 2019.
For additional information contact Matushka Emilia Shepherd at 910-988-3462 or email@example.com.
By: Dn. Herman Garrison
The 2019 October Lecture Series continued this week by building on previous lectures given about the Autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in America. Archpriest Thomas Soroka of Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, was the night's speaker. His lecture was enlightening yet challenging, especially to the diverse audience of students, clergy, and laity in attendance.
Saint Tikhon's was honored to have guests from its sister seminary, Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, including: Fr. Chad Hatfield (President), Dr. Ionut Alexandru Tudorie (Academic Dean), Mr. Alexandru Popovici (Academic and Recruitment Advisor), and Ms. Sarah Werner (Marketing Director, SVS Press).
During the talk, Fr. Thomas reflected on his own personal experience of what it was like to grow up Orthodox in America at the dawn of Autocephaly. He noted that there had been an outpouring of new educational material, books, and music as new parishes were being established. He remarked that it was "a vibrant Orthodox faith and there was a transition in the Church to help growth".
The prophetic words of Fr. John Meyendorff were brought to the fore, wherein he encouraged the new Church to recognize the goals ahead and be thoughtful in consideration of how to engage those goals. Fr. John reminded us of the words of St. Paul who said this mission work was for the "building of the Body of Christ", and he continued in his essay, stating, "we have to build churches, schools, and missions, but first of all, we must build an authentic and strong Orthodox consciousness in our clergy and laity...so that the true Orthodox witness may be a dynamic witness in American society..."
Fr. Thomas picked up on this theme to remind us that we must have a sense of urgency in fulfilling our mission. We cannot be a bastion for a chosen few, but we must bring the Kingdom of God to everyone in our land. This will mean that we must equip parishes, priests, and lay people to fulfill mission work through better communication and the sharing of resources.
A host of Orthodox missionaries were discussed; in particular, Fr. Thomas highlighted Saint Paul and the early North American missionaries. He underscored three traits of our missionary ancestors: faithful clarity, unquestioning certainty, and sacrificial urgency -- which was the keystone to all their efforts. He noted that they knew what God had called them to do and they spoke and acted with authority. It is important not to be distracted by naysayers or obstructionists.
Additionally, we must act with urgency. Others are doing the work, and we cannot be lethargic or apathetic. We also cannot wait for canonical anomalies to be solved.
Fr. Thomas stressed that the mission of the OCA has already been clearly stated, and it is up to us to act upon it.
By: Deacon Ignatius Strange ('22)
The OCA Archivist, Alexis Liberovsky, brought to St. Tikhon's the second talk in the Lecture Series. Following in the theme of autocephaly, he shared a wealth of information – both from the vaults of the OCA's archives, as well as, from the treasures recorded in his own memory after years of researching our history. He recounted the process leading up to the council in which the autocephaly of the OCA was proclaimed, including the procession up to St. Tikhon's Monastery Church, where the tomos was read aloud. A beautiful aspect of the proceedings, for which we have a word-for-word transcript transcribed from a recording, was the void of geopolitical talk. Such discussion would have been an understandable concern in any talks between Russians and Americans in 1970. Rather, they solely focused on the high mission of attempting, in the words of the tomos itself, to "serve the good of the Orthodox Church in America and the glory of God."
On Saturday evening, October 5, at St. Lawrence University in far upstate New York, Dr. Mary Ford, Associate Professor of New Testament at St. Tikhon's Seminary, spoke on "Whom, or What, Do We Fear? Insights from the Book of Revelation." Her talk was sponsored by the Mission Parish of St. Olympia the Deaconess in nearby Potsdam, New York. The next day Dr. Mary and Dr. David participated in the first-ever fully hierarchical liturgy ever celebrated in the St. Olympia Mission, celebrated by Archbishop Michael, OCA Archbishop of New York and New Jersey, and Rector of St. Tikhon's Seminary.
Only six days later, Dr. Mary spoke on the same topic at Cornell University, sponsored by the Cornell Chaplain's Office and the Cornell Orthodox Christian Fellowship, under the direction of Fr. Joel Brady, St. Tikhon's graduate, Class of 2015. The next morning, Dr. David Ford, Professor of Church History at St. Tikhon's, spoke on Marriage at Fr. Joel's parish, Holy Apostles Orthodox Church, in Lansing, New York. Dr. David presented on two themes: "Marriage in the Church Fathers through the Centuries," and "26 Suggested Patterns of Living to Strive for to Enhance the Glory of our Marriages."
The Drs. Ford were very grateful for the warm hospitality bestowed upon them by both parishes, and by the wonderful members of the Cornell OCF.
The first two photos are at St. Lawrence, and at the Potsdam Mission.
The next four photos are at Cornell, with the OCF there, and with Fr. Joel Brady and his family in his Holy Apostles Church in Lansing, New York.
On Tuesday, October 8, St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary welcomed His Beatitude, the Most-blessed Tikhon, Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of All-America and Canada, back to his alma mater for the 2019 Fall Lecture Series. His Beatitude inaugurated the series, entitled Autocephaly, as a prelude to the OCA’s celebrations of 50 years of the granting of Autocephaly from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1970.
His Beatitude spoke not only from an historical and liturgical perspective concerning Primacy, but also offered his audience many personal reflections. For him, for example, the honor to consecrate Holy Chrism for Baptism is one aspect of his Primatial service which he most appreciates and enjoys. His Beatitude reinforced through his lecture his view that Primacy is not a gift of power or position, but one of humble service and obedience to shepherd a flock.
Metropolitan Tikhon’s Lecture was entitled, “Primacy and Service” and will be available on St Tikhon’s Ancient Faith Radio podcast, “The Spirit of St Tikhon’s” shortly. The next lecture will be offered by Alexis Liberovsky, Archivist of the Orthodox Church in America, on Tuesday, October 15, 730-9p, in the Convocation Hall. All are welcome.
By: Subdeacon Peter Simko (‘21)
Saint Tikhon’s welcomed Father Stephen Powley, parish priest of Saint John’s Greek Orthodox Church in Pueblo, Colorado, and Executive Director of Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM). He discussed the reality of incarceration in the United States compared to other places in the world, as well as his own story of becoming a chaplain. He explained the experience prisoners have with combating the “flames of hell” as they seek to ascend the ladder toward the embrace of the Lord. The prisoners who seek Christ see His blood as extinguishing those flames.
Having been accepted as a chaplain, Fr. Stephen was told by a warden to “go do what chaplains do” (without much idea as to what that should be). The voice of Christ pushed him not to fear, but to engage the prisoners and embrace their personhood. Fr. Stephen explained that in ministering to those in prison, we are visiting and serving Jesus Himself.
Fr. Stephen noted, “the Orthodox Church has been on a collision course with people going into and coming out of prisons and jails.” He further explained how fallen men and women--terrible criminals, even--can and do become Saints. He used Saint Moses the Strong of Ethiopia as a prime example. Father spoke of the incredible transformations that he has experienced in his time working with prisoners--with both social and spiritual re-orientations. Fr. Stephen reminded the students that “a welcoming Church sees each individual as a person made in the image and likeness of God; it has unconditional love, trust, and realistic expectations.”
Fr. Stephen spoke about an encounter he had in the chapel of Hosios Loukas Monastery. While praying, Fr. Stephen had a vision of a man locked up in a supermax prison. He eventually found that man and told him about his experience. The man had never expressed interest in Orthodox Christianity before, but after being introduced to the Faith by Fr. Stephen, the prisoner embraced the Truth of the Church.
He told us about His Eminence, Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver, tonsuring several life-sentence prisoners with developed spiritual lives into the monastic life. One prisoner, influenced by these new monks and their excitement for Great Lent, fasted for days and experienced a bright Woman as if in a dream, asking him to take her Baby. Father Stephen explained to the inmate that the Theotokos seemed to be asking the man to accept the Lord. Metropolitan Isaiah, after hearing the story, remained silent. He then turned to Fr. Stephen and said, “baptize him.” The inmate also desired this, and he entered into the Holy Church.
Fr. Stephen showed the seminarians a photo of what a baptism looks like within a prison. The students asked Father about how a new priest can get involved in prison ministry. He explained that the easiest way is to connect with a local incarcerated Orthodox Christian, but you can also connect with a local chaplain for a prison--and perhaps suggest teaching a course to inmates on Early Church history. Father reminded everyone that Saint Tikhon’s and OCPM have been working together for many years, and that Father John Kowalczyk is helping lead an exceptional program at the seminary. We are so grateful to the wonderful leaders who help lead the way for future clergy in ministering to those in prison.
For more information on the wonderful work of OCPM, check out: https://theocpm.org/. Stay tuned for a podcast featuring Fr. Stephen on a future episode of Spirit of St. Tikhon’s on Ancient Faith Radio.
On the weekend of September 28-29, Archpriest John Parker, Dean of St. TIkhon's had the privilege to accompany the Wonderworking Icon of St. Anna to Holy Dormition Orthodox Church, Cumberland, Rhode Island, at the invitation of parish rector, Archpriest Vasily Lickwar. Fr. John preached at the Divine Liturgy on Sunday. In his homily, he exhorted the faithful that our response to the wonders and miracles attributed to the Grace of the Holy Spirit through St. Anna is, in fact, the Gospel appointed for the same Sunday (Luke 6:31-36). Gratitude for the miraculous in our lives is best shown as love for one's enemies, lending expecting nothing in return, and doing good as we are able. This is especially true, preached Fr. John, since we, who are of the household of faith, were once enemies of God, who, despite our selfishness towards Him, have been given new life, forgiveness of sins, and countless visible and invisible acts of mercy towards us.
Holy Dormition was established in 1908 by St. Alexander Hotovitsky, one of the five saints who walked, and prayed, and served at St. Tikhon's.
"A Sower Went out to Sow..."
Nurturing the Good Seed
Vocation Encounter Fall 2019
A Friday evening Primatial Vigil commemorating the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross featured a perhaps otherwise typical detail: Ambrose Inlow, a third-year seminarian at Saint Tikhon’s prayerfully read the Hexapsalmos, that is, the Six Psalms at the beginning of the order of Matins. A seminarian reading this is no surprise, but that Ambrose Inlow was doing so wove him into a simple and long-standing tradition at Saint Tikhon’s. For all those men chosen to be ordained to the Diaconate are first responsible for reading the Six Psalms the evening prior to their day of elevation.
Accompanied by the singing of the Saint Tikhon’s Mixed Choir--under the direction of Benedict Sheehan--and in the eyes of a myriad of faithful, Ambrose was tonsured and ordained to the rank of Reader. Having first been vested in the short phelonion, he was then given a selection to read from the Apostle. Demonstrating his capability, he was then vested in the sticharion, and likewise girt in an orarion. Now a Subdeacon, Ambrose washed the hands of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, and the Liturgy was begun.
The Divine Liturgy contained all the common traits of any Hierarchical service, but with the added joy of a Primate’s presence along with the awe of venerating the Wood of the Cross, a relic of which lay enshrouded with bright red carnations in the center of the nave. “Before Thy Cross, we bow down in worship, O Master…” was chanted by the clergy and choir as the faithful fell prostrate. The Diptychs were chanted festively by the Reverend Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak and mirrored by the choir. And crowning the entire service was the laying on of hands by His Beatitude upon Subdeacon Ambrose, who knelt with his forehead on the corner of the Holy Table.
After Father Deacon Ambrose took up the marks of his new office, concluding with the fan, the chanting of Axios resounded throughout the Monastery Church. At the close of the Liturgy, the concelebrating priests (including Archimandrite Sergius Bowyer--the Abbot of Saint Tikhon’s, Archimandrite Alexis Trader, Father John Parker--Dean of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, Hieromonk Herman, Father Ignatius Gauvain, and Father Vjekoslav Jovicic) and deacons gathered for photos with the newly-ordained and his Matushka, Meghan (Juliana) Inlow, and their family. On behalf of the Saint Tikhon’s family, we congratulate the Inlow family and wish them many blessed years! Axios, Axios, Axios!
By: Subdeacon Peter Simko
St Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary announces the 2019 October Lecture Series, "Autocephaly", celebrating the 50th Year of Autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in America. The Lectures will begin Tuesday, October 8, and continue on each of the following Tuesdays in the month, Oct 15, 22, and 29.
Archpriest John Parker, Dean of St Tikhon's noted, "For the Orthodox Church in America, it is also momentous, in that the Lectures will be held in the newly-renovated Convocation Hall, the site of the first All-American Sobor in 1970. It is a rich blessing not only for the Seminary, but also for the living history of the Orthodox Church in America, as we labor to fulfill the Great Commission in this land."
His Beatitude, the Most-blessed Tikhon, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All-America and Canada, will give the opening lecture, "Primacy and Service," on Tuesday, October 8, 730-9pm.
In the following weeks, Autocephaly will be considered in the following lectures:
October 15: Mr Alexis Liberovsky, Archivist of the Orthodox Church in America, "Autocephaly: Documents and Reflections".
October 22: Archpriest Thomas Soroka, Pastor of St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKees Rocks, PA, and long-time Ancient Faith Radio Podcaster: "Autocephaly and Mission".
October 29: Archpriest Alexander Rentel, Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, "Autocephaly and the Canonical Tradition".
Lectures will run for forty-five minutes, with fifteen minutes to follow for questions and answers. A light reception follows each lecture, finishing at 9pm.
All are welcome.