With the blessing of His Grace, Bishop Basil (Essey), Deacon Michael Pavuk, the Seminary’s Director of Development traveled to Wichita Kansas in mid-February to address the attendees at the clergy retreat of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid America of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese.
The featured speaker at the retreat was His Grace, Bishop Irenei of Sacramento, vicar to the Western American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. His Grace gave seven inspirational talks over the course of 2 ½ days on these wide-ranging topics: ‘The Source of Theology: The Worship of Heaven’, ‘The Nature of Salvation: Saving the Lost Sheep’, ‘Atonement: Discovering an Orthodox Understanding’, ‘You are not a Person: Personality & Identity’, ‘Pure Doctrine in an Impure World: Canonicity and Liturgical Life’, ‘The Nature of Repentance’, and ‘A New Creation’.
Deacon Michael’s presentation revealed that all on-campus instruction at HTOS is exclusively in English, that HTOS is awaiting an imminent decision by the New York State Board of Regents to approve our proposed Master of Divinity degree, and that HTOS would be a viable option for prospective seminarians from the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese who are interested in receiving a sound theological and spiritual formation at a traditional Orthodox seminary.
Bishop Basil and his clergy have a profound respect for St Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow, in particular, and the Russian Church in general, as the following excerpt of oikos 10 from the Akathist to their clergy brotherhood’s heavenly patron, St Raphael of Brooklyn, can attest:
The love of thy people for thee and thy love for them greatly impressed the holy hierarch Tikhon. He saw in thee the image of a true shepherd—one who served not by compulsion, but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; one who was not a lord but a humble servant. Traveling to Russia, he forcefully entreated the Holy Synod to allow him to consecrate thee as his Vicar Bishop. Bearing within thee the abundant grace of the Holy Spirit, thou wast the first to be consecrated to the sacred episcopacy in the New World. Wherefore, grateful to God, we the faithful chant with joy to thee. . . ” (Oikos 10)
Consecrated as a hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, with the blessing of the Patriarch and Holy Synod of Antioch, thy ministry extended to all Orthodox Christians. As a self-proclaimed Syro-Arab by birth, Greek by education, American by residence, Russian at heart and Slav in soul, thou didst minister to all, teaching the Orthodox in the New World to proclaim with one voice: Alleluia. (Kontakion 10)
That new connection will, God-willing, assist us in promoting ‘Traditional Orthodoxy for the 21st Century’ and bear much fruit for His Holy Church in years to come.