This third and final installment was recieved today from Seminary Dean V. Rev. Steven Voytovich chronicling the St. Tikhon's Mission Choir as they are touring churches in the western part of the U.S. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them as they lend their voices and talents to the prayers of the Orthodox faithful an entire continent away.
West Coast Tour Continued (Dean's Journal)
Friday, Jan. 9, 2015
We drove back from San Francisco, reaching Tarzana in time to begin preparations for an alumni gathering. St. Tikhon’s is working to reconnect with alumni and so we planned a small reception, with Fr. Yousuf’s gracious opening of his church hall. We returned to the Firehouse Greek Restaurant we had eaten at earlier in the week, and they prepared dinner items that we served at the reception. Alumni attending the dinner included: Fr. Nicholas Boldireff, Fr. Yousuf, Fr. Paul Waisanen, Fr. Nathan, and Fr. Minas Sarchizian. We took a photograph together with our seminarians later in the evening.
Following the alumni gathering, we headed down to San Diego, arriving at 10pm to stay with our host families there.
Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015
Another full day for the mission choir. We began by being a second choir to St. Gregory of Nyssa Greek Orthodox Church. This was their first patronal feast day in their new church that had been destroyed by fire, with a visitation from their new Auxiliary Bishop Apostolos. Fr. Simeon Corona attended St. Vladimir’s during the time Fr. Steven was completing his D.Min. degree, and hadn’t seen each other in many years. Marshall read the Epistle reading, and Fr. Michael Tassos was among those serving at the altar.
After a wonderful luncheon put on by the parish, we all headed to La Jolla Cove, for a Pan-Orthodox blessing of the Pacific Ocean at a public beach. It was quite a scene with people gathered to be near the water, others gathered for the blessing, and seals were lying on the beach nearby. Archbishop Benjamin concelebrated with Bishop Apostolos, and a number of area clergy. The Mission Choir led the singing of the responses.
Three crosses were thrown in, with parishioners swimming for them. After a light meal, Vespers was served in a pavilion on the beach. Again the Mission Choir led the responses for Vespers. After stopping briefly for coffee, we headed back to our host families.
Fr. Alexander Federoff and Matushka Vickie put up several of the seminarians, including Fr. Steven. We had a great time reminiscing about our octet days, and the seminarians shared their experience of this trip thus far.
Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015
What a wonderful parish to complete our tour at St. John of Damascus Church in Poway. Many on the mission choir met people they knew or had connections with, including family members of Archpriest Vasily and Matushka Nancy Gilbert, board member of the seminary. We sang the responses for Liturgy, and the fellowship at their hall was such that it was difficult to leave.
We returned to Garden Grove area, and were treated to a wonderful barbeque by St. Luke’s parish secretary and her family! It was finally time for a little relaxation before returning back to South Canaan tomorrow.