Representatives from the St. Tikhon’s Community traveled to Washington DC this past Friday, January 25, 2013 to join with a group from its sister school St. Vladimir’s to present a unified presence at the 40th Annual March for Life event.
This year was of particular significance not only because this would also be the weekend that the former rector and alumnus, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon (STOTS 1993) would be enthroned as the Metropolitan of all America and Canada, but also because it was the first year that the representatives of the Orthodox Church were asked to do something very extraordinary from the main stage at the start of the march.
After the offering of the customary head-bowed prayer for those living who had suffered or were currently suffering because of the heavy physical and spiritual toll on those unfortunate victims who saw abortion as their only alternative, the Orthodox delegation was asked to do from the main stage something that it has historically done as part of the normal panakhyda service that occurs street-side at the conclusion of the march.
As His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon and His Grace Bishop Benjamin approached the podium, all of the other Bishops present huddled closely around the one microphone and in surprisingly melodic harmony intoned “Grant rest and eternal repose O' Lord...”
At the conclusion of this solemn and moving hymn the crowd which has been estimated by some official sources to have reached nearly half a million people, did not clap, did not begin talking again, did nothing but stare respectfully ahead as the hierarchs were escorted off of the stage to make way for the next speaker. One Orthodox participant was noted as saying “I have been coming to this event for over 20 years now and I have never seen this crowd joined in perfect unified silence like this before.”
If the Orthodox delegation had any type of offering to add to the hustle and bustle of an event that can seem to possess an almost volatile level of energy at times, it would have to be this unique and very loud moment of stillness.
Joining Metropolitan Tikhon were His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate; His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West; His Eminence, Archbishop Nikon of Boston, New England and the Albanian Archdiocese; His Grace, Bishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, and Locum Tenens of the Diocese of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania; and His Grace, Bishop Michael of New York and New York and New Jersey. (Taken from OCA.ORG)
The group was also accompanied by the Icon of the Visitation that was brought to the march by Archpriest John Kowalczyk (STOTS 1975), a pro-life activist and co-founder of the Orthodox presence at the annual March, from its resting place at St. Michael’s parish in Jermyn, PA. Carrying the Icon during its long march around the capitol building were seminarians Robert Gauvain, John Andoun, and Jessie Dominick.
Graciously carrying the groups large standard through the pressing crowds for this year were seminarians from St. Tikhon’s: Khader Baramki, Kevin Mellis, Joel Brady, Michael Danhoffer, Sorin Hindoreanu, and Jeff Morrison.
Also present were Archpriest Theodore Boback, the President of the St. Tikhon’s Alumni Association (STOTS 1979), Fr. David Cowan (STOTS 2007), Fr. Timothy Hojnicki (STOTS 1994), Fr. Thaddeus Franta (STOTS 2011), Fr. Martin Brown (STOTS 2006) Fr. Ian Shipley (STOTS 2012), Roman Ostash (STOTS 2012), Fr. John Parcells (STOTS 2005) as well as representatives from each of the three aforementioned seminaries, their families, friends, loved ones, as well as a large representation from the various parish communities throughout the East Coast. We were also blessed to have as a participant one of the oldest living St. Tikhon's Alumni, the Very Reverend Daniel Ressetar (STOTS 1948) who seemed to be unaffected by the extremely cold temperatures that were causing the majority of us to wish we had brought a second or even third layer of clothing.
Also marching with the orthodox contingency were seminarians His Grace Bishop Ewostateos, Fr. Benjamin Huggins, Dn. Panayiotis Tekosis, Michael Pierce, Sophia Pierce, Alexis Baldwin as well as faculty members Dr. David Ford and Fr. Joseph Woodill.
Some sources put the attendance of the march at nearly 500,000 people, all of varying religious and ideological backgrounds, coming together from all walks of life, to speak in a unified voice on the things that unite us and be silent, if only for the day, on the things that keep us apart.
Further information on the event is available on oca.org. The Chancellor's Diary regarding the event is also available here.