On Thursday, April 5, 2012, Dr. David Ford's America and Orthodoxy class was treated to another guest speaker – this time, the Very Reverend John Nehrebecki, the priest emeritus at Christ the Savior OCA parish in Paramus, New Jersey.
Drawing on his nearly 60 years of experience in Christ's holy priesthood, Fr. John shared his insightful reflections and pearls of wisdom on many themes – from Bp. Nestor's work in Alaska in the early 1880s; to St. Alexis Toth's work in bringing thousands of Uniate Christians into Orthodoxy; to his own pastoral work in Osceola Mills, PA, and Garfield, NJ, in the 1950s – especially the introduction of the use of English in the services; to the key role that Fr. Alexander Schmemann played in the delicate process leading to the granting of the autocephaly to the OCA in 1970; and his own participation in the delegation that went to Moscow to personally receive the tomos of autocephaly from Metropolitan Pimen, locum tenens for the Moscow Patriarchate.
Fr. John spoke of the particular need for priests who are new in a parish to truly love their flock, and to bring necessary changes through patience, careful teaching, and gentleness. His warmth, humor, and contagious enthusiasm, and simply his living witness as a steadfast, fruit-bearing, faithful servant of Christ as “a simple parish priest” - as he describes himself - for nearly 60 years, was an inspiration to us all. Thank you, Fr. John, for the gift of your presence among us!
(Article Written By Dr. David Ford)