With complete confidence and faith in Almighty God the Holy Trinity, Giver of all good and perfect gifts, St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary began its thirty-second academic year on Saturday, September 15, 2007. The seminary, in addition to being a training ground for future clergy, serves as the center of the spiritual and intellectual life of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church here and abroad – a model of our Orthodox Christian faith.
With eight priests concelebrating and 30 other clergy and 200 faithful present, His Beatitude Metropolitan Constantine and His Eminence Archbishop Antony inaugurated the beginning of the academic year with the re-consecration of Three Holy Hierarchs Seminary Chapel. The chapel was recently renovated by a group of faithful parishioners of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in New York, NY under a skilful leadership of Very Rev. Fr. Todor Mazur, who spent every Saturday throughout the past half a year working with his parishioners in the Chapel installing a new ceiling, floors, and Iconostas, which was delivered to the Seminary through the skillful efforts of Very Rev. Fr. Bohdan Kalynyuk, pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Bloomingdale, IL.
The Seminary is welcoming 13 new students this academic year, who will study in two distinct programs. The full time program consists of five students from Ukraine who began their study of the English language, which will be their primary concentration for this first academic year. They will also have classes in liturgical music and the history and structure of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. These five young men were selected from among more than 150 applicants in Ukraine and will study pastoral theology in preparation for parish service and administration.
The part-time program is designed primarily to accommodate later vocations among individuals, who are already well into professional careers and who want to respond to our Lord’s call to the Holy Priesthood. There are 8 students enrolled in an extremely intensive program, which combines one weekend each month in residence at the Seminary and a heavy self-directed reading and writing regimen at home during the rest of the month. During the weekend in residence these students participate in intensive 16-hours of lectures. The students complete two full three-credit courses per semester in this program.
V. Rev. Fr. Bazyl Zawierucha, Rector of the Seminary, Hieromonk Daniel (Zelinsky), Provost of the Seminary. Protopresbyter Frank Estocin, Spiritual Formation Director of the Seminary, and V. Rev. Fr. Stephen Hutnik, Vocations Director, are entrusted with the daily spiritual and academic operation of the institution and all serve as teachers at various times.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Constantine in His sermon during the Liturgy: “The year 2007 marks the 32nd anniversary of St. Sophia Seminary. Of all its accomplishments, the most notable during these past years has been the spiritual formation and education given to young men whose primary goal in life was to serve our Lord and the faithful as priest pastors in our Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. and Diaspora. Many were the young men whose call to the priestly ministry was perfected in our seminary, and who have, as models of faith and service enriched the lives of the faithful now entrusted to their pastoral care. Armed with faith and knowledge, they met the challenges of the past 32 years and cooperated with the grace of God in perfecting every aspect of their witness to Christ in a world in need of Christ’s transforming grace.
It gives me great pleasure to offer sincere congratulations to the seminary administration and faculty for their years of diakonia (service). Mindful of its mission to our entire Church, and having entered the 21st century, our St. Sophia Seminary has taken the necessary steps to improve every aspect of its spiritual and academic life so as to enter the third millennium well prepared to confront new challenges and capable of preparing for the sacred priesthood men who will, as instruments in the hands of Christ, be models of faith and Christ-like service.
May Almighty God crown the mission of our seminary with blessed success, and fill its hallowed halls with those who will keep vigil over themselves and eventually shepherd with philanthropia the communities entrusted to their care.
May the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, come upon our faculty staff and future students.”
In addition, His Beatitude declared that the faithful present at the consecration service were now the God-parents of the of the Chapel and urged them to provide the necessary spiritual and material support for years to come and to encourage others to do the same.
The responses for the Rite of Consecration and the Divine Liturgy were spiritually and most beautifully sung by three choirs from our parishes: from Assumption of the Mother of God, Northampton, PA, under the direction of Linda Winters, singing for the consecration; from St. Andrew Memorial Church, South Bound Brook, NJ under the direction of Michael Andrec, singing the first half of Divine Liturgy; and from Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Wilmington, DE under the direction of Nancy Hlywiak, singing the second half of Divine Liturgy.
At the conclusion of the Liturgy, Archbishop Antony thanked all the clergy, choir members and faithful for their participation in the services and introduced Fr. Todor Mazur and Fr. Bohdan Kalynyuk, thanking them for their immense contributions. He also thanked those on our property management staff led by Emil Skocypec, who contributed months of work to renovate the Seminary residential areas – basically the entire building except for the chapel. Most of their work goes unseen because it is hidden in the walls and the floors, etc., all of which needed care.
The day concluded at the Ukrainian Cultural Center where our planned family picnic was moved due to the weather reports of rain most of the day. Tom O’Prandy, our Cultural Center manager and caterer, received and prepared all the various foods donated by area parishes, and formed them into a beautiful buffet presentation, called upon to do so only a few days before the event! It was a meal enjoyed by everyone present with an abundance for all.
V. Rev. Bazyl Zawierucha, Rector of the Seminary, greeted the gathering and thanked His Beatitude and His Eminence for the blessing of their presence at the beautiful day. He introduced all the new seminarians from Ukraine: Vasyl Pasakas, Ivan Kostyshyn, Andriy Matlak, Vasyl Dovhan and Michael Havretskyy, who were warmly welcomed by the audience. He urged the faithful to be generous in their contributions to help cover the costs of the seminary renovations and the academic program. Nearly $7,000 was contributed at the dinner.
Archbishop Antony continued the program with the presentation of Hramoty/Award Certificates to Frs. Mazur and Kalynyuk and the members of Holy Trinity Cathedral, New York, NY for their loving contributions of time and effort at the seminary: Pani-Matka Yelena Mazur, Vasyl Dubnich, Anatoliy Babiy, Serhiy Danchenko, Mykhaylo Kolopelnyk, Christian Shofinec, Alex Shofinec and Ihor Kubyra.
In addition, His Eminence presented a Hramota to Anthony Mauser of Holy Assumption Parish, Northampton, PA, whose Heating and Air-Conditioning company provided air-conditioning units, including installation, for the chapel and other areas of the seminary at no cost at all! Further Hramoty were awarded to Mrs. Valentina Hursky of St. Luke Parish, Warner’s, NY, who contributed $10,000 to establish the Jacob and Valentina Hursky Scholarship Fund; and Olga Coffey, St. Andrew Parish, Silver Spring, MD, who contributed $5,000 to cover the cost of a computer lab for our students to intensively study the English language during their first year in residence.
The Archbishop also thanked Mrs. Valentina Kuszmycz, also of Holy Trinity Cathedral, New York, NY, who presented the seminary with a collection of “rushnyky” – embroidered towels for use in Three Hierarchs Chapel. He then introduced the alumni of St. Sophia Seminary – clergy who are currently serving in parishes of our Holy Church, who were present for the celebration: Fr. Yurij Bazylevsky, Protopresbyter Taras Chubenko, V. Rev. Jakiw Norton, V. Rev. Myron Oryhon, Fr. Michael Danczak, Fr. Stephen Masliuk, V. Rev. Steve Repa, Fr. Zinoviy Zharsky and Fr. Deacon Iryney Dziadyk.