African seminarians lead Liturgy for feast of St. Mark

Seminarians from the Patriarchate of Alexandria helped make for a particularly memorable celebration of the feast day of St. Mark the Evangelist, the patron saint of the Venerable Church of Alexandria.

On Wednesday, the seminary community observed the Divine Liturgy for the feast according to rubrics and languages commonly used for the Divine Liturgy in Africa. The Liturgy was led by first-year Seminarian Archimandrite Chrysostomos Onyekakeyah from Nigeria and third-year Seminarian Deacon Simon Menya from Uganda; Seminarian Loveday Okafor, also from Nigeria, sang the responses during the Liturgy. All three students belong to the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa.

During his sermon, Fr. Chrysostomos pointed out that sermons in Nigeria are usually much longer than sermons typically given in Orthodox churches in America. Sermons he delivers back home can be up to an hour in duration, and members of the congregation sing, dance, and clap for thirty minutes or more.

Speaking about the importance of the feast day, Fr. Chrysostomos reminded the congregation that, though it is important to glorify saints like St. Mark, we too often glorify them but forget that we should also strive to be like them. It is our duty to, like the saints, become the salt and light of the earth.

According to Church tradition the Apostle and Evangelist Mark is considered to be the founder and first bishop of the Alexandrian Church. Saint Mark is believed to have arrived in Alexandria in AD 43, traditionally observed as the year the Alexandrian Church was founded.

Next year, the seminary anticipates even more students enrolling from the Patriarchate of Alexandria, due to the closure of many seminaries in Africa because of financial crises. St. Vladimir’s Seminary has established the St. Cyprian of Carthage Fund for African seminarians who would not be able to attend St. Vladimir’s Seminary without financial support. Read more about the initiative on the St. Cyprian of Carthage Fund page.