Representatives from the St. Tikhon’s Community traveled to Washington DC this past Monday January 23, 2012 to join up with groups from both St. Vladimir’s and Holy Cross to present a unified presence in the 39th Annual March for Life.
This year was of particular significance because it was the first year that an Orthodox hierarch has ever been asked to give the opening prayer that signals the official start of the march.
Archpriest John Kowalczyk (Director of Field Education and STOTS Alumnus 1975) gave the opening remarks and introduction for His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah who then proclaimed:
“We offer this sign of our visible unity, standing together in unity of mind, with a contrite heart and broken spirit. We offer our repentance, however we have sinned, for all have sinned and fall short, and thus none of us can judge or condemn. We offer our compassion for those in grief, in guilt and despair.”
Leading the group of Orthodox through the enormous and eclectic crowd of marchers was His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah, as well as His Grace Bishop Tikhon (STOTS 1993), His Grace Bishop Michael, His Grace Bishop Melchizedek, as well as His Grace Bishop Matthias (STOTS 2002).
Accompanying them were Archpriest John Jillions, Chancellor of the OCA, Archpriest John Kowalczyk, Chancellor of the Diocese of Eastern PA (STOTS 1975), Archpriest Gregory Safchuk, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. as well as Archpriest Chad Hatfield, Chancellor of St. Vladimir’s and Hieromonk Sergius, Abbot of St. Tikhon’s Monastery (STOTS 2005).
The group was also accompanied by the Icon of the Visitation that was brought to the march by Bill Talpash from its resting place at St. Michael’s parish in Jermyn, PA. Carrying the Icon during its long march around the capital building were Dn. Michael Pasonick, Dr. David Ford, seminarian Robert Gauvain, as well as Micah Wilson.
Graciously carrying the groups large standard through the pressing crowds for this year were seminarians from St. Tikhon’s: Fr. Philip Halliwell, Dn. Joel Wilson, Jessie Dominick and Nazar Lukashov. Also helping with the banner were Anna and Michael Halliwell, and Emmelia Ford.
Also present were Archpriest Theodore Boback, the President of the St. Tikhon’s Alumni Association (STOTS 1979), Fr. David Cowan (STOTS 2007), Dn. Gregory Hatrak (STOTS 1994), Fr. Thaddeus Franta (STOTS 2011) 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.
Some sources put the attendance of the march between 250,000 and 300,000 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.