Two Seminarians Ordained during Three Hierarchs Festive Weekend
29–30 January 2012 • Patronal Feast of the Chapel of the Three Hierarchs
Our campus was replete with activities surrounding the Feast of the Three Great Hierarchs—Ss. Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom—the patrons of our chapel. Besides hosting the customary annual Father Alexander Memorial Schmemann Lecture, the seminary community welcomed three visiting hierarchs who presided at Divine Liturgies on Sunday and Monday, during which two seminarians were ordained to the diaconate.
With us were His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah, president of the seminary and primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA); His Grace Rt. Rev. Benjamin, bishop of San Francisco and the West (OCA); and His Grace Rt. Rev. Tikhon, bishop of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania. After the Divine Liturgy of the feast day, His Beatitude presented the seminary with the gift of an icon of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco.
On Sunday, January 29, His Beatitude ordained 2nd-year student James Parnell to the Holy Diaconate, and the next day, on the feast proper, His Grace Rt. Rev. Benjamin ordained 2nd-year student Andre Paez to the Holy Diaconate. Additionally, 2nd-year student Adam Horstman was ordained as a sub-deacon.
Both of the newly ordained deacons have fascinating backgrounds. Deacon James, a Chaplain Candidate in the New York Army National Guard, holds a B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the American Military University, and an A.A. in Arabic from the Defense Language Institute, Foreign Language Center. Deacon James joined the U.S. Army in 2002 and served as an Arabic linguist. He deployed twice to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2005–2006 and again from 2007–2008 before being commissioned as a Chaplain Candidate in 2009. He is currently a First Lieutenant assigned to the 101st Expeditionary Signal Battalion in Yonkers, NY and hopes to continue serving his Church and his country as an Army Chaplain. He and his wife, Holly, also an Army veteran and former Arabic linguist, have two children: Samuel and Ariane. At St. Vladimir's, he serves as the President of the Student Council.
Deacon Andre holds B.S. in International Business from Pepperdine University, and an M.B.A. from the University of San Francisco; he was a banking and real estate finance executive for 13 years. He is Colombian American and was raised as a Roman Catholic. He discovered the Orthodox Church while attending Pepperdine University and was chrismated in 1997 at Holy Trinity Cathedral is San Francisco, California. Upon entering the Church, he desired to go to St. Vladimir's Seminary, but his parish priest, the late Archpriest Victor Sokolov of blessed memory, advised him to "grow in the Church first." Deacon Andre heeded his wise counsel; it was after 13 years of serving and growing in the Church, while also getting married and having children, that he finally received the blessing to come to the seminary. Deacon Andre is a volunteer on the OCA's financial strategic planning commission and is interested in helping start a pan-Orthodox Credit Union with the intent of increasing the financial strength of the Church, paying off all parish debts, and helping create a program to fund the cost of all seminarians' educational expenses. Andre's wife, Samantha, is Lebanese American, and holds Masters level degree in social work; she currently writes grant proposals for various non-profit institutions. They have two children: Rafael and Isabel.