We Are Being Formed Daily
A first–year student reflects on his start in seminary, and on Sandy's impact.
I was called to attend St. Vladimir's Seminary to study for the priesthood when I was 14 years old, when my priest Fr. Boniface Black suggested the idea to me. The thought remained in the back of my mind and eventually penetrated my heart. The turning point came years later when one Sunday, while serving in the altar, I looked first at the priest, Fr. Anthony Baba, and then at the altar boys. As my eyes vacillated between them, I realized for the first time that I looked more like the priest than the altar boys, and that it was time for me to attend seminary!
Arriving here, I learned that we all initially embarked on this new journey of study and service for many different reasons. Yet whatever the reasons that brought us here, we quickly discovered that Saint Vladimir's is a place that will prepare us for our future lives in Christ's Church. From the first week of classes on, we were regularly reminded that Christ is the foundation of our life here, and that our time is His. The emphasis, we were told, is on our daily formation. We began to participate in a steady routine of study, service, and worship, which most of us had not been accustomed to in our former lives.
We found out that it is a challenge to wake in the morning and remember Him, it is a challenge to remember Him during the day's routine, it is a challenge to go to rest at night and remember Him still. Saint Vladimir's reinforced this approach to life, by being a place where we were encouraged to remember Him always.
By the time a few months passed, most of us had adjusted to the daily life cycle, and had seen growth in many aspects of our personalities. We had been stretched spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally. We were immersed in an incredibly busy schedule of study, prayer, and work. We'd learned to diligently attend classes, write papers, and read books. We were beginning to feel relatively comfortable.
Then Hurricane Sandy hit, and we discovered many new things about ourselves that were difficult to admit. We had become accustomed to having light at night, hot showers in the morning, a regular prayer cycle, and daily classes, but when the power went out for many consecutive days and nights, we felt powerless in more ways than one. Our routine, which was challenging to adjust to initially, was now the routine that we desperately desired. We lost two weeks of precious study and class time.
However, the time spent living by candlelight, was precious in and of itself. Many of us wrote out the Psalms by hand in the candlelight, and discovered how the Scriptures were handed down to us. Many of us lived as our ancestors lived before electricity, and we counted our blessings, and gained a new appreciation for our life and routine at Saint Vladimir's Seminary.
Jabra was born in Amman, Jordan and raised with his five siblings by faithful Orthodox parents in suburban Philadelphia, PA, where he attended St. Philip Orthodox Church (Antiochian Archdiocese) in Souderton. In recent years, he moved to Texas, where he attended St. Anthony the Great Orthodox Church (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese) in the town of Spring. He is engaged to be married this summer to "the beautiful, sweet Gabriella Mobayed" of Sugar Land, Texas. Jabra serves on the Student Council at St. Vladimir's as one of two first–year representatives.
In his free time, Jabra enjoys reading news articles about current affairs and managing his fantasy football teams. An extrovert, Jabra loves being around people and learning about them. He especially enjoys studying the lives of the saints, and reading biographies about people in politics who have maintained their integrity.