Fr. Michael Oleksa headlines Ecclesiastical New Year celebration

1 September 2018 • On Campus

Alumnus Archpriest Michael Oleksa (’73) delivered a powerful, enlightening, and heart-felt message on the campus of St. Vladimir's Seminary (SVOTS) Saturday as part of the Seminary's celebration of the Ecclesiastical New Year.

 The New Year festivities were organized by the St. Herman’s Society for Orthodox Ecology, one of several student-led interest groups on campus, in keeping with the day’s traditional association with thankfulness for God’s providence and care for His creation. The day began with an Akathist and Supplication Service, followed by a walking tour, Fr. Michael’s keynote address, and the blessing of a replanted tree on campus, and concluded with Great Vespers.

 During his address, Fr. Michael beautifully weaved the history of the Alaskan Mission and the work of St. Herman of Alaska and others into the present, as the Orthodox Church continues to defend the native peoples of Alaska and uphold the sanctity of the created world. Fr. Michael passionately implored Orthodox Christians everywhere to draw upon the past and modern-day experience of Orthodoxy in Alaska in witnessing Christ to all nations.

 “This was our Church standing up for what we believe,” Fr. Michael said, as he wrapped up his narration of an environmental struggle taken up by the Orthodox in Alaska in recent years. “It’s not an economic issue. It’s not a political issue. It’s a moral issue involving our theological and spiritual concern for the natural world which God so loved.”

 Listen to Fr. Michael’s full address, “The Legacy of St. Herman and the Alaskan Mission Today.”

 Fr. Michael, now retired, has served as village priest, university professor, and consultant on intercultural relations and communications in Alaska. He has authored several books on Alaskan native cultures and history, including Alaskan Missionary Spirituality (SVS Press) and Orthodox Alaska(SVS Press). A 1969 graduate of Georgetown University, he earned his M.Div. at St. Vladimir’s in 1973, and went on to complete his doctoral degree at the Orthodox Theological Faculty in Presov, Slovakia, with an emphasis in Alaska Native History during the Alaska-Russian period (1741–1867). He is recognized as an “Elder” by the Alaska Federation of Natives, a “Distinguished Public Servant” by the Board of Regents of the University of Alaska, and has been honored by the Alaska State Legislature and the National Governors Association.