10 March 2013 • On–Campus Ordination • Virginia Nieuwsma
On the Sunday of Meatfare of the Last Judgment, His Eminence The Most Rev. Benjamin, archbishop of San Francisco and the West, Orthodox Church in America (OCA), ordained Deacon Andre Paez to the Holy Priesthood in Three Hierarchs Chapel at St. Vladimir's Seminary. Father Andre is in his third year of the Master of Divinity program at St. Vladimir's. The day before, His Eminence also presided over the baptism of Fr. Andre and Matushka Samantha's infant daughter Mariel.
In addition to Archbishop Benjamin, other participating clergy at the ordination included: The Very Rev. Dr. Alexander Rentel, Fr. Stefanos Alexopoulos of Athens (The Church of Greece), The Rev. Dr. David Mezynski, The Rev. Dr. Benedict Churchill, The Rev. Andre Paez, The Rev. Dn. Gregory Hatrak, and The Rev. Dn. Adam Horstman. Several friends and relatives of the Paez family traveled over long distances to attend.
In a charge to his listeners and to Fr. Andre, His Eminence stressed the meaning of Judgment Sunday in his homily. "Liturgically speaking, this Sunday has nothing to do with meat," he noted. "Instead, we are called to remember the Last Judgment. Christ is our neighbor, and our neighbor is Christ. We can't love an abstract idea of humanity; we must love individual people."
Since his ordination to the diaconate by Archbishop Benjamin  in January of 2012, Fr. Andre has been serving as a deacon under The Rev. Martin Kraus, rector of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church  in East Meadow, Long Island. While at Seminary, he has also been active in the St. Ambrose Society , St. Vladimir's pro life advocacy group. The Californian seminarian hails from San Francisco, where he obtained a Master of Business Administration at the University of San Francisco before embarking upon a career in banking and real estate finance.
Father Andre grew up in a Columbian American, Roman Catholic home. He encountered Orthodoxy while attending Pepperdine University in Southern California, and was chrismated in 1997 at his parish, Holy Trinity Cathedral  in San Francisco. When he joined the Church, Fr. Andre wanted to attend St. Vladimir's immediately. "However, my parish priest, the late Archpriest Victor Sokolov of blessed memory, advised me to grow in the Church first," noted Fr. Andre. "I heeded his wise counsel and it was after 13 years of serving and growing in the Church, getting married, and having children, that I received Archbishop Benjamin's blessing to come to the Seminary."
Father Andre's wife, Samantha, is Lebanese American, and holds a Masters level degree in social work; she currently writes grant proposals for various non–profit institutions. With the addition of little Mariel, the Paez family now has three children: Rafael, Isabel and the baby.