Ninth annual OCA Diaconal Liturgical Practicum trains deacons and diaconal candidates
YONKERS, NY [OCA]
Bishop Daniel with Practicum participants after Divine
Liturgy on July 15. “Click Picture to see more”
Twenty-three deacons and students in the Diaconal Vocations Program of the Orthodox
Church in America gathered on the campus of Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological
Seminary here for worship, theological reflection, and focused liturgical training.
For the ninth year in a row, this gathering has provided an important opportunity
for deacons and candidates to connect with faculty and each other as they seek to
expand their ministries at the altar.
The Diaconal Liturgical Practicum began on Sunday
evening, July 12, 2015 with supper, introductions, and an icebreaker that helped
participants appreciate some of the challenges of learning to serve the divine services
correctly. Archpriest Dr. John Behr, Dean of the seminary, formally opened the program
with the singing of a Molieben in the seminary’s Three Hierarchs’ Chapel. The Practicum’s
beginning coincided with a week of instruction for students enrolled in the seminary’s
Doctor of Ministry program and both cohorts were enriched by being able to pray together
and to receive a blessing with holy water at the beginning of the week. Father John
then led the Practicum in an engrossing study on early martyrdom, Scripture and Eucharist
in our lives in Christ and the Paschal passion. As one participant noted, “I would
have made the trip to the seminary for this talk alone!”
The next day opened with
an early morning celebration of the Divine Liturgy celebrated by Father John and
participants of the Practicum. Archdeacon Kirill Sokolov, Director of Diaconal and
Late Vocations of the Orthodox Church in America, gathered with participants at 7:00
a.m. to prepare for the Divine Liturgy. “It is not always possible in our parish
life for the deacons and servers to be the first to arrive at the church,” explained
Archdeacon Kirill. “In these intensive days of training, however, we are able to
practice and model the full order of services and all of the preparation required
for a peaceful and orderly serving of the divine services. From filling oil lamps
to chanting the prayers of the Church, the participants learn best by actively doing
and with repetition.”
Following the first liturgy, students practiced proclaiming
the Word of God by reading in church and learned about the proper use of their voices
in a first of multiple sessions with Archpriest Sergius Halvorsen, Assistant Professor
of Homiletics and Rhetoric at the seminary. Sessions on voice featured chanting a
section from the Epistles of the Holy Apostle Paul and receiving feedback from Father
Sergius and peers on clarity and sound.
Workshops led by Archdeacon Kirill aimed at
providing participants with the frameworks, patterns, and skills needed to serve
effectively in the Orthodox Church as an attentive server or deacon. Sessions focused
on the typical celebration of the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom. Instruction
and practice in hierarchical services met in smaller groups to better approach these
complicated services with the additional guidance of Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak,
Secretary to His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon.
Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor,
served Vespers and met with the participants to discuss issues facing ordained clergy
and the Church and the Church’s work in this world. As Chancellor, Father John is
a member of the Board of Theological Education, which supervises the work of the
Diaconal Vocations Program. As on Sunday, a long day of work and study ended at 10:00
p.m. with planning for the following morning’s Divine Liturgy.
On the second day of
the Practicum, Tuesday, July 14, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated by seminarian
Priest Aleksey Paranyuk, Archdeacon Kirill, and Practicum participants. In addition
to liturgical workshops led by the archdeacons, Archpriest Alexander Rentel, Assistant
Professor of Canon Law and Byzantine Studies and the John and Paraskeva Skvir Lecturer
in Practical Theology, taught liturgical theology fundamental to the ministry of
the deacon and to the understanding of every Christian.
The Practicum was honored
by the presence of His Grace, Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa, Auxiliary Bishop in the
Diocese of the West, who came to the seminary for the Practicum at the invitation
of Metropolitan Tikhon to preside at the divine services, to be with the participants
in conversation, and to meet with them as a group to discuss expectations that the
Church has for all men who are called to serve her in ordained diaconal ministry.
also marked the eve of the feast of the Holy Great Prince Vladimir, Equal of the
Apostles, patron of the seminary. The community joyously celebrated Great Vespers
with Practicum participants and those attending the D.Min. program. The celebration
was heightened by the prayerful presence of Metropolitan Tikhon, who serves as President
of the Church’s seminaries and chairs the Board of Theological Education. He spoke
convincingly of the darkness in the world that Saint Vladimir worked to convert to
Christ and the encouragement we receive from the saint’s example to us in our own
time and place. The celebration continued with a cookout in honor of the feast hosted
by the Alumni of the Seminary. Following the festive evening, the Practicum participants
continued their work late into the night on reading and voice with Father Sergius.
Wednesay, July 15, the Practicum experience was crowned by the celebration of the
Divine Liturgy for the feast of Saint Vladimir. Bishop Daniel served the full hierarchical
order with the assistance of ten priests, six deacons, and Practicum participants
who served as subdeacons or sang in the choir.
Participants attended the Practicum
from nearly every diocese of the Orthodox Church in America and from other Churches.
The “goodbyes” at departure movingly showed that participants not only learned more
about the liturgy and their vocations in Church service, but also benefited spiritually
from their new connections to teachers and brothers. As one participant explained,
“it is a true joy to have received the opportunity to meet you all and to call you
The Holy Synod of Bishops requires participation in at least two practicums
for candidates to complete the Diaconal Vocations Program of the Orthodox Church
in America. Ordained deacons benefit from attendance as part of the Continuing Education
discipline of the Church.
Further information on the Diaconal Vocations Program is
available at http://oca.org/dvp. More information on Saint Vladimir’s Seminary and
its programs of theological study can be found at www.svots.edu.
Assembly of Bishops issues message at conclusion of sixth annual meeting
CHICAGO, IL [OCA]
The sixth annual meeting of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA
drew to a close on
Thursday, September 17, 2015.
The hierarchs issued a Message to the Faithful, the
full text of which appears below, at the conclusion of the three-day gathering. His
Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon was among the message’s signatories, together with
the other US members of the Orthodox Church in America’s Holy Synod of Bishops: His
Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel; His Eminence, Archbishop Nikon; His Eminence, Archbishop
Benjamin; His Eminence, Archbishop Melchisedek; His Eminence, Archbishop Mark; His
Eminence, Archbishop Michael; His Grace, Bishop Alexander; His Grace, Bishop David;
His Grace, Bishop Paul; and His Grace, Bishop Daniel.
In other business, the hierarchs,
in response to a five-step plan submitted by the Assembly’s Legal Affairs Committee,
unanimously authorized commencement of the plan’s first three steps, by which relevant
legal documents of the Assembly’s member jurisdictions will be assessed and analyzed.
The hierarchs also approved the Assembly’s 2016 budget. Assembly minutes and related
documents and reports will be posted in the immediate future at www.assemblyofbishops.org.
seventh annual meeting of the Assembly is tentatively slated to convene in October
Message to the Faithful
Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA
To our beloved Orthodox Christian faithful throughout the United States of America:
know that for those who love God everything contributes to the good [Romans 8:28].
brothers and sisters in the Lord,
We, the members of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox
Bishops of the United States of America, gathered in Chicago, Illinois, for our sixth
annual meeting on September 15-17, 2015, greet you with paternal love, as we offer
glory and thanksgiving to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Forty-five bishops assembled in order
to recognize and affirm our unity in the Orthodox faith, to celebrate our communion
in the Holy Eucharist, to recall what has been achieved in fraternal collaboration
over the past year and reflect on the challenging work that lies ahead of us.
our deep gratitude to all those who labored for this year’s Assembly meeting. The
Greek Orthodox Church of Saint John the Baptist in Des Plaines, Illinois, welcomed
us on behalf of His Eminence, Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago for the opening Divine
Liturgy. A special Pan-Orthodox Doxology was also held at the Holy Resurrection Serbian
Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois, where we were blessed to sponsor a Youth
Event hosted by His Grace, Bishop Longin of New Grachanica and Midwestern America
in order to communicate with teens and young adults and address their concerns.
We express our gratitude to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for meeting with the
Executive Committee of the Assembly earlier this year and for emphasizing our unique
responsibility—as a significant and representative segment of the Orthodox Church
throughout the world—to provide insights about the work of our Assembly for consideration
by our Mother Churches and by the forthcoming Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox
Autocephalous Churches, which is scheduled to take place in Constantinople on Pentecost
In the opening session, our chairman Archbishop Demetrios of America underlined our
responsibility as bishops in reflecting the Gospel message of love and unity in our
own relationships, in our local communities as well as in the broader, global society.
After hearing the executive reports from the officers of the Assembly, we turned
our attention and deliberation to matters of canonical regional planning.
The Committee for Canonical Regional Planning, which met over the course of the past
year, took into consideration the diverse positions of our Churches in the United
States of America and drafted recommendations for discussion and deliberation by
all the hierarchs. Moreover, during the visit of the Assembly Executive Committee
to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, member hierarchs were reminded by His All-Holiness
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew that the Mother Churches are still awaiting from
our Assembly a “plan to organize all the Orthodox faithful in the region on a canonical
basis”, as per the Chambésy Rules of Operation.
Thus, in a spirit of mutual trust and fraternal openness, we had the opportunity
to listen to one another and to examine carefully various possibilities and options
to assist in resolving the existing canonical anomalies in the United States through
the perspective of Orthodox ecclesiology and canon law and with a view to recent
immigration trends. In this regard, we confirmed our commitment to working together
with greater cooperation and coordination on the future of a more unified Orthodox
Church in this nation.
The final sessions were dedicated to pastoral issues and practices related to marriage
and divorce in an effort to resolve critical differences that significantly impact
the lives of our faithful and their families, as well as to other procedural matters.
Finally, we agreed on the following resolutions:
We fervently support the convening of the Holy and Great Council in 2016 and entreat
all those responsible for its realization to work in a spirit of unity and harmony
in order to reaffirm the conciliarity and collegiality among our Churches.
We unequivocally denounce the increasing violence and bloodshed throughout the world.
In the Middle East, hostility and brutality are occurring among members of different
religions, sometimes supposedly in the name of religion. We pray for peace and justice
in the Middle East, for protection of Christian and other minorities in the ancient
lands of Syria, Iraq, and Palestine, as well as for the cessation of racial discrimination
and religious fanaticism.
We strongly implore government and civil leaders in this country and throughout the
world to offer refuge to the countless victims of intimidation and displacement;
and we express our unconditional solidarity with all those who have been forced to
leave their homelands because of military violence, ethnic persecution and deprivation
of natural resources in the Middle East, especially in Syria.
We continue wholeheartedly to appeal for the release of our brother bishops in Syria,
the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul Yazigi (brother of His Beatitude, Patriarch
John X of Antioch), the Syriac Orthodox Archbishop John Ibrahim, as well as all other
We pray earnestly for peace and stability in Ukraine, where armed conflict persists
among our very own brothers and sisters. We appeal for a humanitarian response to
the victims of this conflict. We call upon church officials to be instruments of
peace and government leaders to act with restraint in a spirit of reconciliation.
We reaffirm our disagreement with the US Supreme Court case of June 26, 2015, which
held a constitutional right for two members of the same sex to marry. We continue
to uphold and proclaim the teaching of our Lord that marriage from its inception
is a life-long sacramental union of a man and a woman.
We share the deep concern and sadness of all those who in our land grieve over the
unspeakable violence that is widespread in our communities, our schools and in our
houses of worship. We pray for the victims of violence and their families.
In conclusion, we continue to pray for all of you that, “being rooted and grounded
in love, you may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth
and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge,
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God [Ephesians 3:18-19]. May the
Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and the communion of the
Holy Spirit be with you all.
Archbishop Demetrios, Chairman
Bishop John, 2nd Vice Chairman
Bishop Basil, Secretary
Metropolitan Tikhon, OCA delegation in Moscow,
November 21, 2016
As reported earlier, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and a delegation representing
the Orthodox Church in America traveled to Moscow for services and related events
marking the 70th birthday of His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. See related
story, which lists the members of the OCA delegation and their itinerary.
On Friday, November 18, 2016, Metropolitan Tikhon and the delegation were welcomed
by Patriarch Kirill at his residence in Moscow’s Danilov Monastery. After exchanging
gifts and greetings, copies of Patriarch Kirill in His Own Words, published simultaneously
in the US in English by Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Press and in Russian, were presented
to His Holiness by His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion [Alfeyev] of Volokolamsk and
Archpriest Chad Hatfield, CEO of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, who edited the collection.
The book was released in conjunction with the Patriarch’s birthday. See related
Later that day, Metropolitan Tikhon and the delegation visited Moscow’s Donskoy Monastery,
where they venerated the relics of Saint Tikhon of Moscow, which are enshrined in
the “Great Cathedral.” It was in this monastery that Saint Tikhon fell asleep in
the Lord in 1925.
Metropolitan Tikhon concelebrated the Divine Liturgy at the OCA’s Representation
Church of Saint Catherine the Great Martyr on Saturday, November 19. Concelebrating
with Metropolitan Tikhon were His Grace, Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa, a member of
the OCA delegation; His Grace, Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the
Patriarchal Parishes in the USA; clergy of the OCA delegation and Saint Catherine
parish; and other local clergy. In attendance at the Divine Liturgy was the Canadian
Ambassador to the Russian Federation, John Kur, who spoke with Metropolitan Tikhon
at the reception which followed. At the conclusion of the Liturgy, a 40-day Memorial
was celebrated for the repose of the soul of Archimandrite Alexander [Pihach], the
OCA’s Representative to the Moscow Patriarchate, who unexpectedly fell asleep in
the Lord in October. See related story.
On Sunday, November 20, Metropolitan Tikhon concelebrated at the Divine Liturgy in
Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral with Patriarch Kirill, the Primates and hierarchs
representing the Sister Orthodox Churches, and numerous bishops of the Russian Orthodox
Church. A gallery depicting the Liturgy and related services and events will be
posted on the OCA web site in the immediate future.