St. Tikhon’s Chamber Choir to perform NYC benefit concert of new sacred music
17 hours ago
The Chamber Choir of Saint Tikhon’s Monastery, a professional vocal ensemble under the auspices of America’s oldest Orthodox monastery, will give a concert at the Roman Catholic Church of Saint John Nepomucene, 411 East 66 Street, New York, NY at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 12, 2015.
OCA departments share current, future plans for “expanding the Mission”
1 Sep 2015 at 5:30pm
The concert will celebrate the release of the choir’s forthcoming debut album, “Till Morn Eternal Breaks: Sacred Choral Music of Benedict Sheehan.” Proceeds from the event will benefit Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.
The performance will consist of original compositions, arrangements, and transcriptions by composer and conductor Benedict Sheehan, resident music director at Saint Tikhon’s Seminary and Monastery.
Several works on the program will be making their world premiere performances that evening, including Sheehan’s “Triduum Paschalae,” a three-movement work for chorus and soloists based on medieval English poetry and poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Among those giving solo performances on the evening will be Portland-based baritone John Michael Boyer, known for his work with Cappella Romana, and soprano Laura Soto-Bayomi of the Chatauqua Opera Festival and the Bard College Conservatory of Music.
Additional information is available here.
His Eminence, Archbishop Michael of New York and New Jersey and Rector of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, observed that the upcoming concert is an example of the ongoing close cooperation between Saint Tikhon’s Seminary and Monastery, which have existed in a symbiotic relationship for the past 77 years.
“From the founding of the Monastery in 1905, and then together with the seminary since its founding in 1938, Saint Tikhon’s has worked to put the Liturgy at the center of people’s lives. One essential way we can do this is by dedicating ourselves to beautiful church singing, which is par excellence a sacramental offering of our time, our treasures, and our talents to God.”
Archbishop Michael also noted that this concert—the first joint monastery and seminary effort of its kind—represents “a deepening commitment on the part of both institutions to fostering excellence in the liturgical arts.”
Archimandrite Sergius, Abbot of Saint Tikhon’s Monastery, said that the concert and the CD it celebrates represent an important milestone in the development of Orthodox musical culture in America.
“Not only is this the first time that an established Orthodox institution such as Saint Tikhon’s Monastery has committed itself to cultivating sacred music-making at a professional level,” he said, “but it is also the first time that an entire album has been dedicated to the work of a single living Orthodox composer born and bred on American soil.”
Archpriest Dr. Steven Voytovich, Dean of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, shared his excitement about this joint effort in developing liturgical music.
“Benedict Sheehan, a member of Saint Tikhon’s Class of 2011, continues to manifest an active commitment to both the seminary and monastery by equipping our seminarians in the area of liturgical music as a faculty member, leading the Seminarian Mission Choir that travels to parishes across the country, and training and directing the monastery choir in singing the responses in the daily cycle of services,” Father Steven said. “We celebrate his dedication to elevating and developing Orthodox liturgical music in North America.”
A great deal of enthusiasm was generated by the reports offered by the Orthodox Church in America’s departments during the 18th All-American Council in July 2015. Representatives of each department highlighted their past and current work during plenary sessions while noting their hopes for the future.Department of Continuing Education
We recently asked the department chairpersons to share their ongoing plans for the months and years ahead in the spirit of the AAC’s theme, “How to Expand the Mission.” Here’s how they responded.
Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit, Episcopal Liaison.
Archpriest Ian Pac-Urar, Director.
The mission and focus of the Department of Continuing Education is the support of Church school teachers, clergy, families and others engaged in faith formation for every age level.In conjunction with the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, the Department of Continuing Education recently received an $18,000.00 grant from the Pastoral Excellence Network of the Lilly Endowment. The grant will provide initial funding for the Orthodox Pastoral Excellence Project, a program of clergy peer learning groups tailored specifically for Orthodox Christian clergy. The initial grant will be used to “jumpstart” three peer learning groups for clergy serving in parishes and missions with largely immigrant populations or who are themselves immigrants to the US or Canada. Incorporating also the goal of building solidarity and shared community between pastors, it will give foreign-born clergy the tools to build up their lives and ministries and the relationships needed to sustain continued growth and witness. The first groups will be formed during the fall of 2015.
The Department is also collaborating with the Department of Pastoral Life to facilitate the formation of similar peer learning groups by that department. [See the Department of Pastoral Life’s report below for details.]
The Department recently approved the ORSMA program, “Stewards of Children,” as part of the five hours of Continuing Clergy Development required annually of all OCA clergy.
Department of Pastoral Life
Archbishop Mark, Episcopal Liaison.
Archpriest John Jillions, Chair.
Priest Nathan Preston, Administrator.
Acknowledging the often unique demands borne by clergy and their families, the Department of Pastoral Life strives to offer support, serving their needs so that they, in turn, may serve others.
Adhering to its newly approved departmental structure, the first monthly meeting of the Department of Pastoral Life’s Executive Committee since the 18th AAC will be held in mid-September 2015, at which time numerous proposed departmental endeavors will be reviewed and prioritized. Selected from diverse communities and appointments throughout the Church but united in their zeal for improving pastoral support for the OCA’s clergy, the committee’s members anticipate expanding their work in earnest.
Remembered with particular fondness for its interviews with prominent and senior priests, back issues of Pastors to Pastors, a newsletter of the Department of Pastoral Life, are now available for the first time in an on-line archive. Spanning more 20 years, the newsletter detailed the struggles and joys in the lives of parish priests. Alternating wit and gravity, good humor and thoughtful sense, the newsletter offered an essential venue for discussion between pastors in an age before communication was instantaneous. More senior clergy may find their fathers and predecessors, even themselves there, while younger pastors will read the vibrant words of many who may just be names or second-hand memories for them.
As reported in part above by the Department of Continuing Education, clergy peer groups will become a reality in two dioceses in 2016, thanks to significant grants awarded by the Pastoral Excellence Network [PEN]. Archpriest Nicholas Solak of the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania and Archpriest Ian Pac-Urar of the Romanian Episcopate report that their proposals for funding diocesan initiatives have been accepted and will be implemented this fall. The Honoring Pastoral Excellence program [HOPE] builds upon a preexisting endeavor of the Eastern Pennsylvania diocese which brought active priests together for mutual support, learning, and personal growth. The grant of an additional $25,000.00 will greatly augment this program of building peer communities of practice, expanding it from an initial two groups into a resource available for all diocesan clergy who wish to participate. Additionally, the HOPE program will permit the charter of a similar body for clergy wives, offering them the same opportunities for shared support, personal interaction, and health. As noted above, the Romanian Episcopate’s new program is aimed specifically at meeting the needs of the diocese’s immigrant clergy and parishes. With the receipt of an $18,000.00 grant, it aims to aid those of its priests who are still becoming acclimated to life in North America.
Applications for these grants and the impetus for these programs stem from a joint endeavor of the Departments of Continuing Education and of Pastoral Life of the Orthodox Church in America. In the spring of 2015, a delegation supported by these two departments traveled to San Francisco to gain a broader understanding of clergy peer groups, the practice that informs them, and the process used to implement them. His Eminence, Archbishop Mark of Philadelphia and Fathers Solak, Pac-Urar, and Preston received training as program facilitators and acquired a richer understanding of the promise and potential such programs hold. The workshop was sponsored by PEN, a non-denominational initiative housed at Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, IN and funded by the Lilly Endowment for Religion. Additional information is available here.
Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid
Archbishop Melchisedek, Episcopal Liaison.
Donna Karabin, Chair.
The Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid promotes the involvement of clergy and laity in caring for the needs of others according to the Gospel teachings and Tradition of the Church. Resources are developed for ministry programs by and for people of all ages.
Members of the Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid Department [CSHA] were gratified to meet with hierarchs, clergy and laity in their workshop sessions and at the CSHA display at the 18th All-American Council, during which the department presented two three-hour workshops—“Matthew 25 Ministries” and “Bearing One Another’s Burdens.” There was great interest in the presentation by Archpriest Thomas Alessandroni on the Pan-Orthodox “Loaves and Fishes Ministry” that serves the hungry and homeless of Atlanta’s Grant Park area. Diana Pasca shared stories of the vibrant and diverse “Inreach-Outreach Ministry” at Holy Cross Church, Medford, NJ, while Dr. Albert Rossi offered a serious and timely presentation titled “Beyond Alcoholism: Other Addictions.” In depth discussions made it possible for attendees to return to their parishes with a variety of ministry development strategies.
Priest Timothy Yates led a workshop on small groups, in which active listening as a necessary ministry skill was highlighted. This skill is an important part of CSHA’s Compassion in Action [CiA] visitation ministry. He had recently conducted a CiA Parish Ministry Training weekend at Saint Mary Magdalene Church, Fenton, MI, where Archpriest Paul Jannakos, Deacon Michael Schlaak and lay leaders made a commitment to serve as the CiA Pilot Program. CSHA members are grateful to them and pray for the development of their caring ministry to those who are suffering physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.
CSHA’s Orthodox Living Will Task Force has worked diligently to produce legal and ethical documents consistent with Orthodox Christian teaching on end-of-life and after-death care. When the Holy Synod review process is completed, the Power of Attorney document and Advance Directives will be available on the OCA web site to assist clergy, laity and their families in making faith-informed medical decisions.
Information on parish development programs and charitable outreach projects may now be accessed on-line at the “Parish Ministry Resources”. New articles are added regularly, while older articles spanning eight themes are continuously being refreshed for today’s readers. The Community Service section offers a wealth of ideas related to ministering to the needy.
CSHA hopes that parishes will participate in the National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11. Parishes in a given area are encouraged to form partnerships to pursue charitable ministries. Many local media outlets run announcements on 9-11 volunteer opportunities for the official service days, which run through October 11.
Department of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministry
Bishop Ireneu, Episcopal Liaison.
Andrew Boyd, Chair.
Recognizing that youth and young adults play a vital role in the life of the Church, the Department of Youth, Young Adult, and Campus Ministry works to train clergy, parents, and youth ministers in various aspects of ministry with, to, and by young people.
Engagement with and building up of Syndesmos, the World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth. As a follow up to the recently concluded Syndesmos fesitval in Poland, at which the OCA was represented—see related article—the Department plans to explore ways to help the organization in its ongoing efforts to connect Orthodox Christian youth and young adults around the world.
Closer cooperation with the Junior Fellowship of Orthodox Christians of America [FOCA]. The Department looks forward to capitalizing on the enthusiasm and energy evident during the successful youth program held in conjunction with the 18th All-American Council and the FOCA’s 89th National Convention. A priority will be working with the FOCA to help shape new Church-wide youth events.
Expand “Praxis” Google Hangouts. Following the department’s pilot of this program in June 2015, plans are underway to offer additional “Praxis” Google Hangouts for college students and young adults in the coming months. Suggestions for topics or discussion leaders are always welcome.
Potential Young Adult Liturgical Music Conference. Looking to the first quarter of 2016, the Department is considering hosting a Liturgical Music Conference for young adults in the Diocese of the South or the Diocese of the West over a long holiday weekend. Those interested in such a gathering are urged to contact Andrew Boyd, OCA Youth Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Youth and Camp Workers’ Conference. Every January, representatives from all jurisdictions gather for the annual Youth and Camp Workers’ Conference, which are now coupled with the Youth Consultation meetings of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA. The date and location of the 2016 conference will be announced shortly.
Department of Christian Education
Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit, Episcopal Liaison.
Matushka Valerie Zahirsky, Chair.
Several new resources are slated to make their appearance on the Department of Christian Education’s web site in early fall 2015. Among them is Activity Book #4, “Saints And The Animals That Served Them,” which includes various ways for youth and families to learn about 12 saints whose lives reflected love for God’s creatures. Also to make its debut in the weeks to come are additional resources detailing the lives of North America’s saints. For each saint, an icon surrounded by small scenes from his life and a full written narrative of the saint’s life that follow the scene sequence will be featured.
Ongoing projects that will soon be available on the department’s web site for free downloading include study questions to accompany each volume of the late Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko’s “Orthodox Faith” series, slated to be revised during the coming year; a Vacation Church School unit for 2016 based on the curriculum written by department members and used in the youth program at the 18th AAC; additional seasonal activities based on the five-year series of bulletin inserts produced by the department; and articles on topics related to Christian Education, including reviews of curriculum materials, books and other resources.
Department members are developing two new retreats for parishes and groups. “Orthodox Surprises” is a full-day retreat that reflects on the lives of some lesser-known saints and on the Orthodox Church as a truly Biblical Church, while “Six Things Every Orthodox Woman Should Know” is a mini-retreat of 40 to 60 minutes that reflects on the lives of several Biblical women and saints and what their lives tell us about being members of the Orthodox Church today.
Department of Liturgical Music and Translations
Archbishop Irénée, Episcopal Liaison.
Prof. David Drillock, Chair.
The Department of Liturgical Music and Translations serves as an advisory body to the Metropolitan and the Holy Synod of Bishops in matters concerning liturgical translations and music, liturgics, and other matters affecting the liturgical life of the Church.
In addition to providing appropriate musical settings for use in worship, the department continues to produce publications and workshop materials on liturgical singing; develops a coherent and liturgically sound approach to the singing of the divine services, especially in the English language; and coordinates the weekly postings of music, text, and audio file resources available on the OCA web site.
The Department also continues to develop standard liturgical texts, translations, and guidelines that accurately reflect the original texts, while taking into consideration the complexities of usage and nuance.
As part of its ongoing on-line instructional courses, the department once again is offering an on-line course, “Choral Conducting for Beginners,” beginning September 14, 2015. Class sessions will be devoted to demonstrating basic conducting techniques, starting with elementary conducting patterns and concluding with an emphasis on conducting liturgical chant. The course consists of 12 sessions over a 13-week period. Additional information may be found here. Class size is limited, so those interested in the course are urged to register no later than September 8. The registration form may be accessed here.
Office of Orthodox Military and Veterans Administration Chaplains
Metropolitan Tikhon, Ecclesiastical Endorser for US Military Chaplains.
Archpriest Theodore Boback, Dean and Executive Director.
Archpriest Joseph Gallick, Assistant Dean and Deputy Director.
The Office offered a briefing at the 18th All-American Council, during which Metropolitan Tikhon met with the chaplains and chaplain candidates.
This past year Archpriest Jerome Cwiklinski retired from the United States Navy and Archpriest Peter Baktis retired from the United States Army.
Plans for the immediate future include visitations with chaplain candidates at Saint Tikhon’s and Saint Vladimir’s Seminaries and with students interested in the chaplaincy.
The Office invites clergy who are interested in serving in the United States Armed Forces as active duty chaplains, reserve components, National Guard chaplains or VAMC chaplains to contact Archpriest Theodore Boback at email@example.com.
Bishop Mardarije, Archimandrite Sebastian to be canonized September 5
1 Sep 2015 at 9:23am
The Orthodox Church in America is a member of the National Conference of Ministry to the Armed Forces and a member of the Endorsers for Chaplaincy Veterans Affairs Centers and is recognized by the Armed Forces Chaplains Board to certify and endorse chaplains to serve in the armed forces.
Ss. Mardarije and Sebastian.
His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West will represent His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon at the canonization of two clerics who served in North America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries—Bishop Mardarije [Uskokovic] and Archimandrite Sebastian [Dabovich]—at Saint Steven Serbian Orthodox Cathedral here September 5, 2015.
His Holiness, Patriarch Irinej of Serbia, will preside at the liturgical celebration, at which many visiting hierarchs, civil dignitaries, and others will be present.
“This is a wonderful blessing for all of us Orthodox Christians in America, and for the whole Orthodox Church throughout the world,” said His Grace, Bishop Maxim of the Western Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church. “When one thinks of the tremendous sacrifices that these two holy apostles made, and the many sorrows that they endured, one is especially gratified that they are now universally recognized as being among the Church’s luminaries.”
A detailed program for the liturgical celebration and related festivities may be found here.
At their regular session in Belgrade May 29, 2015, the members of the Holy Assembly of Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church announced their intention to glorify Bishop Mardarije and Archimandrite Sebastian as “preachers of the Gospel, God-pleasing servants of the holy life, and inspirers of many missionaries” for their pastoral labors in America and their homeland. The glorification came in response to a recommendation by the Episcopal Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America.
The annual commemorations of Saint Mardarije of Libertyville, Bishop of America-Canada, and Saint Sebastian of San Francisco and Jackson will be observed on November 29/December 12 and November 17/30 respectively.
St. Sebastian of San Francisco and Jackson.
Saint Sebastian was born Jovan Dabovich in San Francisco, CA in 1863—in the midst of the US Civil war. His parents were Serbian immigrants from Sassovae. From his early youth he was devoted to the Church and spent much of his time at the city’s Holy Trinity Cathedral, where he later served as a reader and teacher. In 1884, he was assigned to assist at Archangel Michael Cathedral, Sitka, AK. Shortly thereafter, he was sent to Russia for training and formation as a missionary priest. After completing three years of studies at the Saint Petersburg and Kyiv Theological Academies, he was tonsured to monastic rank and ordained to the diaconate in 1887.
Returning to San Francisco, he served as a deacon at the cathedral and taught in the newly established pastoral school. On August 16, 1892, he was ordained to the priesthood and assigned to pursue missionary work in California and Washington. The following year, he succeeded Father [now Saint] Alexis Toth as rector of Saint Mary Church, Minneapolis, MN and taught at the Missionary School.
In 1894, Father Sebastian returned to California, where he established the first Serbian Orthodox parish in the US in Jackson, CA. Two years later, he was reassigned to San Francisco’s Holy Trinity Cathedral while continuing his missionary efforts in Jackson. In recognition of his abilities, Archbishop Tikhon assigned him as part of the North American Mission’s Administration. During this time he wrote a book titled The Ritual, Services and Sacraments of the Holy Orthodox Church. In 1902, he was transferred to Alaska, where he served as Dean of the Sitka Deanery.
With the development of additional Serbian parishes in the US, Archbishop Tikhon reassigned Father Sebastian to head the Serbian Mission in America in 1905. The Mission was based in Chicago, where Archimandrite Sebastian had organized and served as rector of Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Church. He continued to guide the Serbian Mission through July 1910, when at his own request he returned to missionary work. With the opening of Saint Platon Seminary, Tenafly, NJ in 1913, he served as a member of the faculty and also was involved in numerous conferences and discussions with non-Orthodox Christian confessions. In these meetings, he was sympathetic and understanding, yet firm in his desire to reveal Orthodox Christianity as the fullness of truth and the Church of Christ.
While Archimandrite Sebastian was obviously a candidate for the episcopacy is America, he likewise felt the calling to minister in his ancestral Serbia. He served as a chaplain to the Serbian Army during the Balkan War and World War I. In 1916, he requested a release from the North American Mission to serve in Serbia, where he ministered for the remainder of his life. He fell asleep in the Lord on November 30, 1940 and was interred in the Monastery of Zicha by his friend and Father Confessor, Bishop Nikolai [Velimirovic].
St. Mardarije of Libertyville.
Saint Mardarije was born Ivan Uskokovic in Podgoritsa, Montenegro, in 1889. In 1907, he embraced monasticism at the Studenitsa Monastery and then relocated to Russia to study at the Saint Petersburg Theological Academy. After graduation, he was ordained by the Russian Orthodox Church and sent as a missionary to America. In 1919, he was one of five Serbian Orthodox priests who participated in the Second All-American Sobor, held in Cleveland, OH in February 1919, at which time it was recommended that the Serbian Church in Belgrade advance him to the episcopacy to organize a Serbian Orthodox Diocese in America. Unfortunately, at this most chaotic time in the history of the Russian Orthodox Church, it was impossible to secure the written blessing of Patriarch [now Saint] Tikhon of Moscow. Later in 1919, Archimandrite Mardarije returned to Belgrade, where he was assigned as head of the Rakovitsa Monastery and principal of its monastic school. Subsequently, Bishop [now Saint] Nikolai [Velimirovic] of Ohrid was sent by Patriarch Dimitriye to administer the fledgling diocese. Having likewise returned to America, Archimandrite Mardarije served as Saint Nikolai’s Deputy for two years, and continued to administer the diocese after the latter’s return to Belgrade.
On April 26, 1926, Archimandrite Mardarije was consecrated to the episcopacy in Belgrade. Prior to his episcopal consecration, he had carried out most of the actual work of organizing the Serbian diocese. He also served as parish priest in Chicago and purchased with his personal funds the land for Saint Sava Monastery in suburban Libertyville.
From the moment of his return to America, Bishop Mardarije undertook a wide range of ministries. He did not spare himself, nor did he fear work, although he knew that he was gravely ill with an advancing case of tuberculosis. In 1927, he convened the first National Church Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox American-Canadian Diocese to address a variety of organizational issues. At a clergy conference held in Youngstown, OH in 1931, he renewed his appeal for all to work for the unity and good of the diocese. His kindness, patience and reluctance to use punitive measures resulted in a great measure of unity within the diocese by the time of his repose on December 12, 1935 at the age of 46 years. He was interred at Libertyville’s Saint Sava Monastery.