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An Alaskan Adventure! Chancellor and Two Seminarians Minister in Kodiak
6-11 March 2013 • Kodiak, Alaska
By plane, auto and boat, a St. Vladimir's Seminary (SVOTS) delegation of three journeyed from New York to several destinations in Kodiak, Alaska, during the seminary's week of spring break. On their first full day in Alaska, The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, SVOTS chancellor/CEO and the former dean of St. Herman Seminary, third–year student The Rev. James Parnell, and second–year student Sdn. Nicholas Roth, presented a workshop for seminarians at sister institution St. Herman's Theological Seminary.
Based on feedback from the students and faculty at St. Herman's, Fr. Chad chose to address the theme "Speaking to Protestants," in which he presented an introduction to Protestant churches and offered counsel about how to engage their missionaries when they come to Alaskan villages. "These missionaries are coming in greater numbers, well funded and well organized," noted Fr. Chad. "In particular, this is a challenge for the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). We have many parishes in Alaska and we need to be sending our own missionaries—catechists and youth workers—to strengthen the faithful there."
In a second workshop, St. Vladimir's students Fr. James and Sdn. Nicholas, both of whom have served several tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and are preparing to be chaplains, spoke about the military chaplaincy and ministry to veterans. "They were so well organized and presented so well!" said Fr. Chad. "For me, there was an enormous amount of satisfaction in seeing two of our seminarians handle themselves so professionally as they communicated at St. Herman's." That evening, the SVOTS delegation joined Alaskan clergy in praying the Akathist before Holy Relics of St. Herman in Holy Resurrection Cathedral, and Fr. James offered another reflection. Then on Friday morning, the newly ordained Fr. James served liturgy at the All Saints of Alaska Chapel. "That was a great joy," he reflected. "I even able to learn some of the Yup'ik liturgical phrases and responses."
"We were warmly welcomed by the faculty and students alike, who showed us great hospitality," added Sdn. Nicholas Roth. "The students were eager and engaging during our presentations, and it was a great opportunity to provide them with information on how to minister to veterans. St. Herman Archivist Daria Safronova was also kind enough to show us some of the Seminary's treasures—the writings, journals, and possessions of St. Innocent and St. Jacob Netsetov."
On Friday afternoon, the special sessions concluded and the trio traveled to the Coast Guard base in Kodiak, where the seminarians had the opportunity to hear Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant chaplains describe their ministry there. Alumnus Fr. Eugene Wozniak (SVOTS '95), who is stationed in Juneau, flew up to Kodiak and arranged the tour and presentations. "The Coast Guard trip was a nice capstone to our time at St. Herman's," said Fr. James. "It highlighted for us how embedded the military community is in Kodiak, and just how important the ministry and chaplaincy is to them."
After the trip to the base, Fr. Chad presented a gift of newly published SVS Press books to the St. Herman's Seminary library. "In addition to thinking about new book donations, our librarian Eleana Silk always makes sure that seconds from our library are sent to the St. Herman's library for use by Librarian Dn. Irenaus Anderson."
In another word of thanks, Fr. Chad noted that "we are always thankful to benefactor Eva Cadwell, who generously supports this yearly exchange between St. Vladimir's and St. Herman's. There has been a strong historical connection between our two seminaries over the years, and we look forward to strengthening that relationship." He added wryly, "the Alaskan seminarians are very keen to travel next year for a basketball tournament with STOTS and SVOTS. They are confident they can beat the Lower 48 seminaries!"