The following update was received from the Dean of St. Tikhon’s, V. Rev. Steven Voytovich, who is currently directing their West Coast Tour. It has been several years since the Mission Choir has been able to make such a trip and so far the warmth and hospitality of the faithful has succeeded in making this trip a valuable and worthwhile endeavor.
West Coast Tour: Update From the Road (Dean’s Journal) January 4, 2015.
Upon arriving in California, we proceeded to our first parish visit to St. Luke’s Antiochian Church in Garden Grove, CA. Fr. Michael Tassos, rector of St. Luke’s, was instrumental in putting plans together with local parishes for our visit. After a potluck dinner at church, he arranged for the mission choir members to stay with parishioners Friday night. On Saturday we connected by Skype with Benedict Sheehan, Mission Choir Director, in Pennsylvania. Benedict assisted with getting the choir in sync with one another after the short end-semester break.
In the course of the afternoon we prepared for Theophany Vespers at St. Luke’s, and put together a brief concert program. Mikel Hill, first-year seminarian, prepared to direct the services.
Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning was quite well attended. Fr. Steven offered the homily. Following directly after the Divine Liturgy was the Great Blessing of Water. Fr. Steven presented an icon of the 100th anniversary of St. Tikhon’s Monastery to Fr. Michael and the parish, which was blessed on the monastery church altar.
After the Liturgy, faithful gathered in the hall for a wonderful luncheon, during which time the Mission Choir offered the concert program. Fr. Steven asked each seminarian in turn to introduce himself as well as the hymn that was about to be sung. The response among the parishioners was quite moving. It was difficult to leave St. Luke’s Church after experiencing such an outpouring of hospitality.
On Sunday afternoon we got back on the road and headed toward St. Innocent Orthodox Church in Tarzana. Once there, we sang Vespers for the eve of Theophany. After Vespers we were invited to sing a brief concert for those gathered. Fr. Yousuf Rassam, alumnus of St. Tikhon’s (STOTS 1997) and pastor of St. Innocent Church, sang with us!
After the program we were treated to supper in the parish hall. Other area Orthodox clergy were present to share fellowship. All in all, it was a good first two days of our West Coast Tour! We will be celebrating Royal Hours and Vesperal Divine Liturgy in the morning (Monday, January 5).
The first photos from our trip will be posted in the coming days.
V. Rev. Steven Voytovich
Dean of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary