Seminarians Attend OISM Retreat in Jordanville


Guest blog article by seminarian Reader Ferenc Fehervari (M.Div. ‘25)

A few weeks ago, a group of St Vladimir’s seminarians traveled from Yonkers to Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, for the Fall 2023 Retreat hosted by the Orthodox Inter-Seminary Movement (OISM). 

The theme for the Fall 2023 OISM Retreat was pilgrimage. The main events, as fitting for any good pilgrimage, were attending a full monastic cycle of services. Retreat participants attended an all-night vigil, an early morning Liturgy starting at 6 a.m., a magnificent Sunday Liturgy held in the packed cathedral, and a beautiful panikhida for Br. Jose Munoz-Cortez. The panikhida was held to honor the 26th anniversary of the repose of Br. Jose, the original guardian of the wonder-working Hawaiian Iveron Icon of the Mother of God, who was brutally martyred in Greece on Halloween in 1997. 


There were roughly 60 pilgrims at the retreat altogether representing four seminaries. The largest group was sent from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Boston, and the second largest group came from St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary students were already at the monastery and finally, four students (including myself) represented St Vladimir’s Seminary at the retreat.

For me, the main takeaway from the retreat was the necessity of a profound spiritual life for those of us who seek to serve the Church in leadership capacities. While it may sound cliché and trite, you could see the importance that the spiritual life has in our life as seminarians, and to see it reinforced at Jordanville by the monastic rigor was very refreshing. As we seek to serve the Church in ordained and lay servant-leadership capacities, the one thing necessary is to cultivate a profound spiritual life as the cornerstone of our formation. In this way, we will have a rich well of strength from which to draw for the sake of those we wish to serve, and for ourselves. 

Another important takeaway from the retreat was how important it is for us as Orthodox Christians to take some time away, whether it be half a day, a day, or even a week, to retreat from the world and make a pilgrimage somewhere (even if this only means that we attend an extra service at our home parish), so that we can be enveloped by silence. It is within the silence that we hear the voice of the Bridegroom of our souls, Christ. And by retreating, we are spiritually empowered to go back into the world and be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ and His Holy Church. 

Pictured from left: Mihailo Vlajkovic (M.A. '24), Ferenc Fehervari (M.Div. '25), and Pavlo Kurganov (M.A. '24).

One memory that I will keep from this retreat involves Pavlo Kurganov (M.A. ‘24), one of the attendees, who is also a brother seminarian. Pavlo wanted to hike the path to Golgotha, a cross on a hill that the Monastery had put up for pilgrims to walk to. It was cold and rainy. We tried to discourage Pavlo due to the rain and the cold, and he told us “If you can see it, you can reach it”. While we got a good chuckle out of his determined statement, they were also very inspiring words. 

About OISM

OISM was founded in the 1960s with the goal of fostering closer relationships between students of canonical Orthodox seminaries in the US and Canada. OISM exists “in order to create a closer fellowship among students enrolled in Orthodox Christian schools of theological education of all jurisdictions, to affirm our common traditions and gain an appreciation of other cultures and traditions, to promote understanding and unity among all Orthodox Christians, to build a network for future clerical and lay cooperation, and with a humble prayer for the guidance of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ in this and all things.”