Bishop Michael Presides on Lazarus Saturday: Ordination, Children's Choir, and First Confession Class Highlight Festive Day
April 16, 2011 • Lazarus Saturday Divine Liturgy • By Deborah (Malacky) Belonick
Our annual celebration of Lazarus Saturday this year included the honor of having His Grace The Right Rev. Michael (Dahulich) preside at the Divine Liturgy and share in some customary community events with us. During liturgy His Grace, who is the Bishop of the New York and New Jersey Diocese of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), presented the homily and ordained seminarian Wiliam Seraphim Joa, a member of his diocese, to the diaconate. He also commended the church school children for singing the festal hymns and presented a word to those church school children who for the first time participated in the Sacrament of Confession.
In his homily on Gospel of John (11:1–45), His Grace reminded worshippers of two important points from that scriptural passage: "God has a plan" and "It is very helpful if we are cooperative with that plan." Relating the gospel message to Dn. Seraphim's ordination, he said, "Being a deacon is so much more than 'swinging a censor'; the deacon is the 'eyes and ears' of the bishop. God has a plan, and Dn. Seraphim's role is to come closer to Christ, and to do His will. May he celebrate the great miracle of the raising of Lazarus, and his ordination to the diaconate, discerning the Lord's will and plan and fulfilling it to the glory of God. Our prayers are with him, and with his wife, Julie."
Dn. Seraphim is a 2nd-year seminarian in the M.Div. program at the seminary and a member of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, East Meadow, New York. He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Idaho and a professional engineer's license, and was a career naval officer. He notes that he and his wife, Matushka Julie, "have one married son, a wonderful daughter in-law, a granddaughter entering Auburn University this fall, and a grandson entering his junior year in high school in Madison, Alabama." During his time at St. Vladimir's, Dn. Seraphim has offered community service in the school's library, and has also participated in several "soup runs" to New York City, to minister to the poor.
To the church school children who gave their first confessions—Maria Rentel, John Walker Yates, Andrew Pavlovic, Jeremy Kuri, and Lauren Drillock—His Grace offered these simple and heartfelt words: "Remember, you can always say to God that you are sorry; the reason you can do that is God loves you." He also acknowledged the children's chapel choir, directed by 1st-year seminarian Ashley Lear.
Our Dean, Fr. John Behr, welcomed His Grace warmly and thanked him for presiding at the liturgy. "It is a joy and honor to welcome you today," he said, "which is the culmination of the end of Lent and the beginning of our journey through Holy Week. Surely, part of God's plan was for you to be here with us today. We are deeply grateful for your visit and for your coming to our seminary to ordain our student."
After liturgy, Bishop Michael attended both a festal brunch and a special Spring Concert sung by a select children's choir, directed by Danielle Miller, with assistant director Ashley Lear and 1st-year seminarian Harrison Russin as piano accompanist. Summing up the day, Bettye Malone, long-time organizer of the Lazarus Saturday church school brunch, said, "The traditions of Lazarus Saturday here at St. Vladimir's have continued now for more than 40 years. This day—and the customary events that accompany it—are so important because traditions are important. These are the things our children will remember."