Alumni Web News - December 2004

Alumni E-News from St Vladimir’s Seminary
December 2004
Volume 4, No. 11-12

Dear Friends,

The semester is flying by.  As we move toward its completion, students are facing the final week of classes and then final exams.  The Christmas fast has already begun and we are grateful to end each day’s activities with Little Compline.  I am sure all of you remember the beauty and tranquility of this short service.   

Let me update you on the numerous events that have taken place over the last month.


During the meeting of the Board of Trustees, held November 18-20, the seminary community, including faculty, staff, students, the Board of Trustees, architects, and builders, and led by Metropolitan Herman, president of the school, processed to the site of the two new married student apartment buildings in order to break ground.   Construction is moving along well in hopes of completion before the fall semester of 2005.  Visit our website:    


On Friday, October 30, the Local Synod of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America elected three former students from St Vladimir’s to the episcopacy.  Rev. Mark Maymon (’91) was selected as Bishop of Toledo and the Midwest; Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Thomas Joseph (attended ’81-’83) as Bishop of Pittsburgh and the East; and Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Rafeek Mufarrij (’00) as Bishop of Ottawa and Upstate New York.  They were consecrated at the Patriarchal Cathedral in Damascus, Syria beginning December 3.  We extend our “Axios” to each of them and ask for their archpastoral blessing.


On behalf of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, Metropolitan Herman, president of the seminary, bestowed a Gramota upon Fr Paul Lazor on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.  Fr Paul has pastored two parishes – Ss Cyril and Methodius Church in Milwaukee, WI and Holy Trinity Church in New Britain, CT.  He has been the Dean of Students and a lecturer in Practical Theology at the seminary for twenty-seven years.  The seminary community – past and present - joins in exclaiming, Axios! 


On Columbus Day weekend forty alumni traveled to Crestwood, New York, for an Alumni Reunion, the first of its kind at St Vladimir’s Seminary. This three-day event—held from Sunday, October 10 to Tuesday, October 12, 2004—brought together representatives of many graduating classes, honoring the classes of 1954 and 1979 in particular.  A highlight of the event was a banquet where Mr Brian Gerich, a member of the seminary’s Board of Trustees who has contributed generously to the strengthening of alumni relations, delivered the main address.  During the three days, alumni had an opportunity to attend classes, celebrate the Liturgy and a Memorial Service together, and to hear Prof. Veselin Kesich, professor emeritus of New Testament and member of the class of 1953, who spoke about his recent travels in Serbia.  During a general assembly, the establishment of an SVS Alumni Scholarship was announced which will be awarded to students demonstrating need. Archpriest Alexander Federoff, rector of St John of Damascus Church (OCA) in Poway, California, joyfully presented a $5,000 check on behalf of his parish to initiate the scholarship fund. Two additional gifts toward the fund were presented later at the assembly. In addition, the Alumni Board elected Fr John Dresko to succeed Fr Anthony Yazge as president of the Board.  In addition, Dianne Storheim was elected secretary to succeed Alexandra Safchuk.  Dates for the next alumni reunion will be announced soon.


Jim Forest of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship visited the seminary campus on Saturday, November 19 where he delivered a talk “ ‘In Peace Let Us Pray To The Lord’: Peacemaking, Conflict Resolution, and Reconciliation as a Pastoral Concern."  The lecture was held after the closing of the semi-annual meeting of the seminary’s Board of Trustees allowing them to join faculty, staff, and students for the talk.  For more information see:


Seven prospective students visited the seminary from November 11-13 to experience seminary life first-hand.  Participants were given the opportunity to attend chapel, classes, information sessions, and to visit with students and members of the faculty.  A major percentage of those attending expressed a strong desire to submit applications.


The annual Christmas retreat, December 27-29, is entitled “The Passion of the Christ.”  Using Mel Gibson’s recent film as the springboard for the retreat, three speakers, His Grace, Bishop Savas, Chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, Fr John Behr, Professor of Patristics at the seminary, and Dr Peter Bouteneff, Assistant Professor of Dogmatics, will reflect on the Cross of Christ from an Orthodox perspective.  Registration forms are available online through the seminary’s website.  The cost for the retreat is $65.00.  For more information, see


Do you remember the seminary octets?  Perhaps you were on one.  Overall, octets were a regular feature of the seminary outreach from the middle 1960s to the middle 1990s.   Octets were a very successful vehicle in presenting a face to the seminary.  We are excited to announce that the seminary is sending out a group of eleven students to Florida during the month of January for a two-week tour of parishes.  As a first, the group will be a mixed choir incorporating males and females.  They will visit OCA, Antiochian Orthodox, and Greek Orthodox parishes.  They hope to strengthen the seminary’s visibility, to recruit prospective students, display and sell SVS Press books, and inform people about the work of the seminary.  The trip will begin January 7 and end on January 19.


The latest copy of the seminary’s diptychs was mailed at the beginning of November to all of our alumni.  If you have not received this list and would like to have a copy, please contact Fr Steven Belonick at the alumni office (ext. 328).  The list, which includes our departed deans, hierarchs, faculty, and alumni, will no longer be published in hard copy form.  Rather, it will be edited on a regular basis and can be found on the alumni page of the seminary’s website.


The seminary is producing two new CDs of liturgical music.  The first will feature the Vigil Service; the second will feature Orthodox Chant Traditions.  SVS Press schedules both for release early next year.  Deacon Kevin Smith, Instructor of Liturgical Music and Choir Director in the seminary chapel, is musical director for both productions.  The project is the result of a grant given to the seminary from the Luce Foundation.  In addition, work is nearing completion on a new edition of music for the Divine Liturgy, the long-awaited Holy Week volume III, and the Burial Service.


His Grace, The Right Reverend BASIL (Essey) (’73) will be enthroned as Bishop of Wichita and the Diocese of Mid-America by His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America on Wednesday, December 15 at St George Cathedral, Wichita, KS.  Axios!

Eric Ofstedahl (‘96) and his wife Lea are new parents of their second child, Gavin (Galvinius) Eric who was born on September 22.  Gavin joins his older brother Grant.  Congratulations!  Since August of 2000, Eric has been the choir director at Holy Cross Orthodox Mission (OCA) in St Croix Falls, WI.

Scott Kenworthy (’96) was a Fulbright Scholar in Romania, lecturing for the faculties of Orthodox Theology at Babes-Bolyai University (Cluj-Napoca) and the University of Bucharest. He will be returning to Romania again for the spring semester 2005. Also, this year he was hired as Assistant Professor in the Department of Comparative Religion at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, where he is a specialist in Orthodoxy and the religions of Russia. In addition, his MA thesis for St Vladimir’s completed in 1996 was published earlier this year in Modern Greek Studies Yearbook 16/17 (2000/2001): 89-130 and was entitled “Russian Reformation? The Program for Religious Renovation in the Orthodox Church, 1922-1925.” He also delivered a paper on “Memory Eternal: The Five-Hundred Year Jubilee Celebration of St. Sergius of Radonezh, 1892,” at the Holy Trinity Seminary Colloquium in Jordanville on October 23, 2004.

Deacon Peter Defonce (‘97) was ordained to the holy priesthood by His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip (AOCA) on Sunday, December 5 at St John of Damascus Church, Dedham, MA.

Michael Burdikoff (MA ’98) and his wife Karen are new parents of a baby girl, Emily Mary.  Congratulations!

Fr Martin Kraus (’02) and his wife Dennise are parents of a new-infant son, Matthias, born October 20.  He was 8lbs. 8oz and 21.5 inches long at birth.  He joins his siblings, Marty, Kyra, and Macrina.  Congratulations!

Rev Deacon Paul Cherian(’02) was appointed as the General Secretary of the Orthodox Christian Student Movement of the Indian Orthodox Church in America by His Grace Mathews Mar Barnabas, Metropolitan of the American Diocese, on August 1, 2004 at the Annual Leadership Conference held in Tampa, FL.  Deacon Paul will be responsible for the youth members of the Indian Orthodox Church in America and will travel to lead meetings, conferences, and retreats.  Deacon Paul is currently working on his Master of Arts degree in Counseling in Nyack, NY and will be graduating in May 2005.

Sloan Rolando (’03) was ordained to the diaconate November 20 at St Volodimir’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Chicago, IL, by Archbishop Vsevolod.  Axios! 

Jeremy Davis (’04) began a year’s work in August in the Antiochian Orthodox Diocese of Australia.  He is responsible for development of youth work in the Diocese.  His work includes a wide range of activities - teaching, preaching, visiting the youth in the many churches, campus ministry, and youth camps.  He works under the omophorion of Metropolitan Paul. 


Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, Dean Emeritus, spoke on September 4 about Faith and Preaching, and Faith and Church Unity at a conference at Antiochian Village sponsored by the St Mark Coptic Orthodox Society; at Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery on Sept 7 in Otego, NY on the Theotokos as a Model for Christian Life; at Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City, PA on Sept 11 on Divine Providence and Human Suffering; on Sept 13 at a class in ethics at Ss Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA; on Sept 20 at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio on Eastern Christianity and on God and Evil; at a conference at St Paul's Greek Orthodox Church in Irvine, California on Oct 1-3 on God and Gender in the 21st Century, together with Sr Nonna Harrison and Dr Valerie Karras. He also spoke on several topics, including Eastern Orthodoxy, and Salvation, and The Experience of Orthodoxy in North America at universities, theological schools and churches in Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada from October 8 through October 17.  During this tour (beside going Salmon fishing on the Harrison River) he served, preached and spoke at the Mission of All Saints of Alaska in Victoria where SVS alumnus Fr John Hainsworth is Pastor, and at St Herman of Alaska Church in Langley, BC where Fr Lawrence Farley is Pastor and where SVS alumnus Fr Justin Hewlitt is assigned.  He also delivered a talk at the annual Icon Festival at St John the Baptist Church, Warren, OH, held Saturday, November 6.  Fr Thomas also updated alumni at an Alumni Gathering at St Michael the Archangel Church, Broadview Heights, OH on Saturday, November 7.

Very Rev Steven and Deborah Belonick, led a parish sisterhood retreat on Saturday, November 6 St Stephen’s Church in Orlando, FL (OCA) on the topic “Culture Class: Living as a Christian Woman in the 21st Century.”   SVS Board of Trustees, Anne van den Berg, arranged the retreat and also hosted an Alumni Gathering at a local restaurant where Fr Steven and Deborah updated alumni on the work of the seminary.  Fr Steven also visited alumni in Richmond, VA and Charleston, SC on his trip to Florida.

Deacon Jesse Greendyk, Director of Development, served and preached at St Stephen’s Cathedral in Alhambra, CA where SVS alumni Fr Nicholas Ceko and Fr Norman Kosanovich serve, and where SVS Board of Trustees member, Brian Gerich, attends.


December 27-29
Annual Christmas Retreat for high-school and college students

February 18
Alumni Gathering at St Luke Church, Garden Grove, CA

January 30
Annual Fr Alexander Schmemann Lecture
Speaker: Very Rev Leonid Kishkovsky

March 14-15
Seminary Lenten Retreat
Retreat Leader: Fr Vladimir Berzonsky