Alumni Update: Archpriest Igor Soroka celebrates 58 years at St. Nicholas Church!
STOTS Communications, South Canaan, PA] Archpriest Igor Soroka (STOTS Class of 1946) was recently featured in a news story focusing on his 58 years of ministry at St. Nicholas Church, Donora, Pennsylvania! You can see the story here, including this photo (by Nate Guidry) from the story, written by Peter Smith, of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
Fr. Igor was one of four sons born to the Very Reverend Mitred Gregory and Matushka Anastasia Soroka. Fr. Gregory originally came to this country as a choir director! Two of Fr. Igor’s brothers were also ordained priests: Archpriest Vladimir and Leonid. Though his two brothers have passed away, the Soroka family members were prolific in setting Orthodox services into English chant settings that for generations were used broadly across the Orthodox Church in America! One of the photos accompanying this story is that of the cover of the “Red Soroka Vespers book” in print for many years!
Fr. Igor entered seminary, graduating from St. Tikhon’s Seminary in 1946. Following his graduation he continued serving as a choir director, where he met his wife Irene. They were married, had four children, and Matushka Irene passed away in 2004. Fr. Igor and Mat. Irene began serving at St. Nicholas Church, Donora, Pennsylvania, on December 1, 1959. This was his first, and only, parish assignment! Now at age 91 he is thinking about retirement.
Even though continuing his service to the St. Nicholas parish, Fr. Igor continued his service as a church musician, as did a number of clergy who had musical talent. He was the director of the Cathedral Choir of the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. He retired as director after 50 years of service in 2013. (See this story here, including the story and photo by Emma Jene Lelik.)
Archpriest Steven Voytovich, seminary dean, recalled encountering the Soroka family and many other church musicians while participating in the annual choir conferences at St.Vladimir’s Camp in Farmdale, Ohio: “These choir conferences were an inspiration to me in the 1980’s as a young church musician, encouraged by my parish priest and choir director to attend!”
In honor of Fr. Igor's many years of service to our Orthodox Church in America, he was one of the inaugural recipients of the St. Romanos Award in 2014. Fr. Igor’s service (and that of his family) to our Orthodox Church in America is exemplary! May his service and dedication inspire many more young men to step forward to serve our church.
May God grant many blessed years to Archpriest Igor Soroka!
St. Tikhon's Monastery and Seminary Celebrate Holy Week and Pascha
[STOTS Communications, South Canaan, PA] Following the conclusion of the preparation of Holy Chrism at the Vesperal Divine Liturgy of Holy Thursday, services of the later part of Holy Week were celebrated. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon remained at the Monastery Church to lead the celebration of Matins of Great and Holy Friday with the reading of the Twelve Gospels. We were also blessed to have Archimandrite Philip Mugadizi, from Nairobi Kenya, remain with us through Holy Week and Paschal services.
Please see the slideshows from the services of: Matins of Holy Friday, Vespers of Holy Friday, Matins of Holy Saturday, the Vesperal Divine Liturgy of Holy Saturday, the Most Blessed Sabbath, and finally photos from the services of Great and Holy Pascha. The St. Tikhon's community shares the joy of the Risen Lord: "Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
Photos taken by Reader Andrew Bohush and Seminarian Robert West.
St. Tikhon's Mission Choir Visits St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
[STOTS Communications, South Canaan, PA] On the Feast of the Holy Cross in Great Lent, St. Tikhon's Seminary Mission Choir visited St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Allison Park, PA, singing the responses for the Vigil on Saturday night and at the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning. Seraphim Danckaert, Director of Mission Advancement, was one of the presenters at a retreat held at the cathedral earlier in the day on Saturday. (You can view this story here.)
Archpriest Michael Senyo, Dean of the Cathedral, welcomed the choir, and His Eminence, Melchisedek, Archbishop of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, attended the Vigil on Saturday night. Following the Vigil, clergy and members of the cathedral community joined the Mission Choir members for an evening of fellowship at the home of Protodeacon Michael Wusylko, a long-time member of the Board of Trustees of St. Tikhon's Seminary, and Matushka Mary Wusylko.
"We are grateful to the clergy and faithful of the cathedral for their long-standing love, hospitality, and support of the seminarians at St. Tikhon's," Archpriest Steven Voytovich, Dean of St. Tikhon's Seminary, said. "It was a great blessing to visit with them again, to spend time together in prayer, and to enjoy fellowship."
May God grant Archpriest Michael, Protodeacon Michael, and cathedral faithful many blessed years!
Holy Chrism Prepared by Primate of the Orthodox Church in America
[STOTS Communications, South Canaan, PA] This Holy Week, during the 100th anniversary of St. Tikhon being elected Patriarch of Moscow, was most special at St. Tikhon’s as His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon led the whole church in preparing Holy Chrism at the Monastery Church. Holy Chrism is used to receive those who are newly baptized, and those being received into the Holy Orthodox Faith in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). This is one of the actions of an autocephalous church.
According to Fr. John Erickson’s 1971 article in the SVS Quarterly, a church is termed “autocephalous” if it has the right to resolve its own internal problems on its own authority (following Holy Tradition of course), independent of other churches, and is self governing, appointing its own bishops, including the first among them, without expression of dependence on another church. (SVS Quarterly, Vol. 15, 1971, pp. 28-29) The right to prepare Holy Chrism is given to the primate of an autocephalous Orthodox Church (see brief write-up on this from our OCA website by clicking here). Our Tomos of Autocephaly, given by the Russian Orthodox Church on April 10, 1970, specifically includes the preparation of Chrism as point 2 (d). This is an especially important action for the OCA in fulfilling its mandate of ministering to the needs of God’s children here in North America.
In glimpsing God’s hand present in the preparation of Holy Chrism, a most significant group of witnesses and participants were present. Our first Orthodox Christians in the new land, the native Alaskans, were represented by Archpriest Peter Chris, from St. Innocent Church in Anchorage, and Fr. Vasily Fisher, from St. James Church, Napaskiak, Alaska, respectively. Among those stirring included descendants from Orthodox immigrants to America and converts to the Orthodox Faith. Finally, we were blessed by the presence of Archimandrite Philip Mugadizi, Deputy Dean of the Patriarchal Seminary in Nairobi Kenya, from the ancient see of Alexandria. He came to observe and participate in the preparation of Holy Chrism.
Archpriest Joseph Martin has led the work of preparing Holy Chrism, under the Metropolitan’s oversight, since at least 1999. He shared that over 50 clergy came to assist in the preparation of the Holy Chrism. Among them were clergy from St. Tikhon’s Monastery, St. Vladimir’s and St. Tikhon’s Seminaries, and OCA hierarchs, and clergy from across the church. As is evident from the photos, one priest reads the Gospels continuously while the other stirs the mixture of olive oil, wine, and many oils and essences that is heated over a burner. During services one priest continually stirs the mixture. When the essences and oils were added, the church was filled with the fragrance of the Holy Chrism!
The preparation began on Monday morning with Metropolitan Tikhon blessing the ingredients before preparation and Holy Week services got underway. Fr. Basil Ferguson, a third-year St. Tikhon’s seminarian, assisted Archpriest Joseph during the course of the days of preparation. Additions were made periodically as the preparation continued to cook. Wednesday afternoon, the cooking concluded and the mixture was allowed to rest. Later on Wednesday evening, the Holy Chrism was poured into a number of jars.
The process of preparation was completed during the Vesperal Liturgy of Holy Thursday, with His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, and His Eminence, Michael, Archbishop of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, and Rector of St. Tikhon’s Seminary, who was also present on Monday morning. Archimandrite Philip, Archpriest Eric Tosi, OCA Secretary, and Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak, Secretary to the Metropolitan, were among the concelebrating clergy. (To see story and photos of the celebration of the Liturgy, click here.) At the Great Entrance, clergy carried all the jars of the newly prepared Holy Chrism, led by Archpriest Joseph Martin who carried a historic jar of Holy Chrism, given by the Russian Orthodox Church when autocephaly was conferred. The jars were then placed on the altar.
Later on in the Liturgy, the lids were removed from the jars. Before the Litany preceding the Lord’s Prayer, Metropolitan Tikhon blessed the contents of each jar three times. Then at the end of the Liturgy, the process was completed. A few drops of the historic Holy Chrism were placed in each jar of the new Holy Chrism. Then a few drops from each of the jars were likewise replaced in the historic jar. Now all the Holy Chrism is mixed between that which was newly prepared, and the historic Holy Chrism received!
This Holy Chrism will be used to receive all those being baptized into the Orthodox Faith in the Orthodox Church in America in the coming years, along with those being received in like manner into the Orthodox Faith. This Holy Chrism has been lovingly and prayerfully prepared by the hands of many in our Church under the direction of Metropolitan Tikhon. Thank you to all who assisted in this most holy action of our Orthodox Church in America, and thank God for the blessing of being able to participate in this essential effort during Holy Week.
Archpriest Steven Voytovich, St. Tikhon’s Seminary Dean
(Photos meticulously captured during the course of the week by Reader Andrew Bohush!)
Vesperal Divine Liturgy includes completion of Holy Chrism preparation
[STOTS Communications, South Canaan, PA] The Vesperal Divine Liturgy celebrated at St. Tikhon's was much more full both as His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, led the celebration that included the final steps of the preparation of Holy Chrism. (To see more about the preparation of Holy Chrism and related photos, please click here to see article devoted to this holy work during Holy Week.)
His Eminence, Michael, Archbishop of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, and Rector of St. Tikhon's Seminary, was present for the beginning blessing of the ingredients of Holy Chrism on Monday morning, and joined His Beatitude for the celebration of the Vesperal Divine Liturgy. Archpriest Eric Tosi, OCA Secretary, and Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak joined celebrants of St. Tikhon's Monastery and Seminary, and Archpriest Joseph Martin, who oversaw the preparation of the Holy Chrism all through the week, at the celebration of the Vesperal Divine Liturgy. We were also blessed with the presence of Archimandrite Philip Mugadizi, Deputy Dean at the Patriarchal Seminary in Nairobi, Kenya, who present with us at St. Tikhon's through the course of Holy Week.
It is during this Vesperal Divine Liturgy, commemorating the celebration of the Last Supper by our Lord Jesus Christ, that Holy Communion is prepared for communing the sick during the course of the year. Metropolitan Tikhon, in his comments at the end of the Liturgy, indicated that this Liturgy is a present day celebration of the Passover from the Judaic Tradition, instituted by our Lord as the Last Supper, and the preparation of Holy Chrism also represents an ancient tradition (pouring on oil and wine for healing). Together they represent two ancient traditions carried forward at the present time.
What a truly memorable celebration of this special Holy Week service! Blessed Pascha to all in and beyond the St. Tikhon's community!
(Photos by Seminarians Reader Andrew Bohush, and Bob West)
St. Tikhon's Mission Choir Visits St. Philip Antiochian Orthodox Church, Souderton, PA
[STOTS Communications, South Canaan, PA] St. Tikhon's Seminary Mission Choir visited St. Philip Antiochian Orthodox Church, in Souderton, PA. Archpriest Noah Bushelli is the parish pastor. Including the members of the Mission Choir, St. Tikhon's Antiochian Seminarians Marshall Goodge and Yazen Fakhouri were blessed to make this trip instead of traveling to their parish assignments. This was especially meaningful for Marshall who has often traveled with the Mission Choir, and then driven to his parish assignment.
Marshall shared his experience of seminary with the congregation at the end of the Divine Liturgy. Fr. Steven also addressed the congregation to share recent events at the seminary. The parish was very generous with contributions benefitting the mission choir members' tuition.
May God grant Fr. Noah, Fr. James, and parish faithful many blessed years!
St. Tikhon's Mission Choir Visits Brick and Princeton, NJ
[STOTS Communication, South Canaan, PA] The Mission Choir of St. Tikhon's Seminary visited two parishes in New Jersey over the weekend: Annunciation Church in Brick, NJ for Divine Liturgy on the community's patronal feast day on Saturday morning, March 25; and Mother of God Church in Princeton, NJ for Vespers and then Divine Liturgy on Sunday, March 26.
His Eminence, The Most Reverend Michael, Archbishop of New York and New Jersey, and Rector St. Tikhon's Seminary, celebrated the Divine Liturgy on the feast day of the Annunciation, along with Archpriest Gary Breton, rector, and several clergy from the area. A festal luncheon took place after the Liturgy in the parish rectory, and seminarians were able to spend time in fellowship with the community.
After lunch, the Mission Choir left for Princeton and managed to squeeze in a one-hour, world-wind tour of parts of the campuses of Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton University, and the historic borough of Princeton, including Revolutionary War sites, the home of Albert Einstein, the home of renowned Orthodox theologian Fr. Georges Florovsky, and the lobby of the art museum.
"We had to leave for Vespers, but we stopped in the art museum's lobby very briefly, because I remembered there is a large mosaic from the floor of a fourth century Byzantine church hanging right there," said Seraphim Danckaert, Director of Mission Advancement. "I had forgotten, and we were amused to discover, that the mosaic's massive inscription proclaimed who had donated this section of the church floor -- even in the time of St. Basil the Great!"
The choir then sang Vespers at the Mother of God, Joy of All Who Sorrow Mission, where Archpriest Peter Baktis is rector and Dn. Russell Komline, a recent graduate of St. Tikhon's Diaconal Formation Program in Philadelphia, serves. After Vespers, everyone enjoyed a wonderful meal with parishioners, during which each seminarian stood to share a little about their background, reason for coming to St. Tikhon's, and sense of how God was working in their lives and what kind of ministry they were being called to embrace.
Many thanks to the priests and faithful of both parishes for their hospitality and generous financial support of the seminarians.
Dn. Andrew Nelko Ordained to the Holy Priesthood
[STOTS Communications, South Canaan, PA] Dn. Andrew Nelko was ordained to the Holy Priesthood on the Annunciation Feast, March 25th. Fr. Andrew is the son of Archpriest Andrew Nelko (STOTS Class of 1981), Rector of St. John the Baptist Church, Campbell, Ohio. The ordination took place at St. Nicholas Church in Weirton, West Virigina. His Eminence, Melchisedek, Archbishop of Pittsburgh and the Diocese of Western Pennsylvaniak was the celebrant. Concelebrating priests included: Archpriest William Evansky, Diocesan Chancellor, Archpriest Samuel Smolcic (STOTS Class of 1979), Dean of the local deanery, Archpriest Steven Voytovich, Seminary dean, Archpriest Nicholas Wyslutsky (STOTS Class of 1989), Archpriest Emilian Hutnyan (STOTS Class of 1992), and Priest Gabriel Bilas (STOTS Class of 2014). Dn. Peter Ilchuk also served. Dr. John Schultz, former STOTS Board member served as subdeacon. Professor David Drillock, retired Provost of St. Vladimir's Seminary, directed the choir that included Fr. Andrew's family members.
Fr. Andrew is a third-year seminarian, and Mat. Kaila has been assisting in the bookstore. It is anticipated that upon graduation, Fr. Andrew will serve at St. Nicholas Church. May God grant Fr. Andrew and Mat. Kaila many blessed years!
(Photos by Nathanel Nelko)
Spring Appeal Letter
The children at St. Tikhon’s gather under the flowering trees after Divine Liturgy. Your Lenten gift helps these families prepare for ministry in the Orthodox Church. Thank you so much for your support!
Beloved in the Lord,
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
When you think about Lent, what comes to mind? For many of us, we might think immediately about the serious ascetic tasks of increasing our prayer life, more rigorous fasting, and attending more services.
But Fr. Thomas Hopko paints a very different picture in his famous book The Lenten Spring. He begins by saying:
”The Church welcomes the Lenten spring with a spirit of exultation…with the enthusiasm of a child… The tone of the church services is one of brightness and light.”
Here at St. Tikhon’s, we are so blessed to be reminded of the “enthusiasm of a child” during our Lenten journey, precisely because we are surrounded by children in every service. Right now, there are over 40 children in our seminary community, with another 5 on the way this year!
It’s only because of your generosity that these families are able to attend St. Tihkon’s and prepare to become leaders of the Church.
Your past donations have helped cover tuition for these families, and even helped them cover emergency costs like medical expenses and car repairs. St. Tikhon’s is a faithful steward of your investment, and we do everything possible to help seminarians and their families when they need it. Thank you for making that generosity possible!
During Lent, will you consider a new gift of $100, $250, or more to help the seminarians at St. Tikhon’s?
Your generosity makes such a difference to the seminarians here —and to their families.
The children have watched their parents leave extended family and careers behind, come to a new place, and sacrifice so much to follow God’s calling to serve the Church.
Yet these same children also get to experience your generosity and love. They see that Orthodox Christians like you around North America care enough about the future of the Church to support their parents during seminary. What an amazing gift you provide!
Seeing Your Gift Make a Difference
Thanks to your support, we have celebrated 7 ordinations since December. And I’m so happy to share with you that the Seminary's accreditation has been reaffirmed by the Association of Theological Schools for seven years with no notations!
This amazing accomplishment is a tremendous validation of St. Tikhon’s effectiveness. Our sole focus is practical preparation for ministry, rooted in the spiritual and liturgical life of the Church. Thank you for standing with us in this sacred mission!
How We Say Thank You
Will you consider a new gift of $100, $250, or more to help the seminarians at St. Tikhon’s during Lent?
By sending a new gift, you are re-committing to a special community of prayer and faith. We look forward to sending you pictures of the young families you are helping, and would like to remember you and your family by name in prayer during our daily Divine Liturgy.
Please use the enclosed reply envelope to send your prayer list and your contribution today. Thank you so much for your support, and may God bless you!
Wishing you a blessed Lenten journey,
Archpriest Steven Voytovich
Dean of St. Tikhon’s Seminary
P.S. Your generous support in the past has made St. Tihkon’s what it is today. Please join us once again this Lent by sending in your Lenten gift today. Click here to go to our online donation page. Thank you so much!