Dean Brings “Taste of Seminary” to Kansas
3–5 June 2011 • Off-campus Event
Our Dean, Archpriest John Behr, recently whirled through Kansas like a (benevolent) twister, touching down in several places in order to teach, preach, observe, and socialize with Orthodox Christian communities. As part of his effort to create an ongoing dialogue between the faithful in the “Sunflower State” and the seminary, Fr. John participated in activities ranging from a parish book discussion in Overland Park to a tour of a community center in Kansas City.
Fr. John’s tour was initiated by Fr. Timothy Sawchak, rector of Holy Trinity Church in Overland Park, and Tracy Gustilo, a member of the parish and a part-time, “itinerant” seminarian at St. Vladimir’s. They at first invited Fr. John simply to act as a visiting author and teacher for their parish’s book study group. The invitation to participate in the book discussion blossomed into a grand tour of the area.
“As a seminarian, I am constantly looking for ways to bring ‘a taste’ of seminary life into the parish,” said seminarian Gustilo. “People are always asking me what I am learning at St Vlad's and wishing they could participate. When I heard that Fr. John was offering a course on his book The Mystery of Christ last spring semester, I thought, ‘We can do that!’ Fr. John concurred and even volunteered to visit and talk with us in person.
“The prospect of his coming spurred us on in our reading as we grappled with such a challenging book,” she continued. “As it turned out, many more people were able to attend Fr. John's Saturday presentation than were able to join in our original weekly discussion, and now he has inspired a whole new group to begin reading! We are very much looking forward to Fr. John coming back to teach—both clergy and laity—in Kansas City next year. Ongoing ‘dialogue’ between the seminary and our parish is proving incredibly fruitful.”
Fr. Timothy concurred. “We hope to have Fr. John come to our area annually and possibly do some continuing education for the clergy here, as well as meeting with the faithful. It was an awesome weekend!”
Fr. John, reflecting upon his experience, said, “I had a wonderful time visiting with all the various Orthodox communities and projects in Kansas, and was very impressed by the life that is going on there. I had a great time talking with everyone, and look forward eagerly to returning next year.”
- Friday, June 3: Fr. John visited St. Nicholas Church in Lawrence, where Dn. Joshua Lollar, a SVOTS alumnus, will be assigned as Priest-in-charge on June 26. Dn. Joshua will hopefully begin teaching at the University of Kansas, Spring 2012, and Fr. John got an extensive tour of that campus from Fr. Timothy (a proud alum!).
- Friday, June 3: Fr. John met with the Clergy Brotherhood of Kansas City at St. Mary of Egypt Church in Kansas City and toured the facility there which houses Reconciliation Ministries/FOCUS Kansas City.
- Saturday, June 4: Fr. John visited St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in Lenexa, which was having its annual Serbfest and visited with their pastor, Fr. Aleksandar Bugarin.
- Saturday, June 4: Fr. John met with the book study group and other interested folks at Holy Trinity Church.
- Saturday, June 4: Fr. John was at Holy Trinity Church for Vespers and then went to dinner with participants from the book discussion group.
- Sunday, June 5: Fr. John served Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Church and preached the homily on the “Sunday of the Fathers of the 1st Ecumenical Council”; he then met with parishioners at the social hour following.
- Sunday, June 5: Fr. John visited St. Basil the Great Antiochian Orthodox Church in Kansas City and met with the pastor, Fr. Elias Issa.