Shafran Endowment Honors Oldest Living Alumnus & His Wife

Matushka Mary and Father Paul Shafran, at the celebratory 70th anniversary banquet in their honor (photo: Matushka Sandy Kopestonsky)Matushka Mary and Father Paul Shafran, at the celebratory 70th anniversary banquet in their honor (photo: Matushka Sandy Kopestonsky)28 December 2017 • St. Vladimir Orthodox Church, Trenton, NJ

Our seminary’s oldest living alumnus, the Very Reverend Paul Shafran (Class of 1945), was honored on Saturday, October 28, 2017, along with his gracious wife, Matushka Mary, in celebration of the 70th anniversary of Fr. Paul’s ordination to the Holy Priesthood, the couple’s 70th wedding anniversary, and their faithful service to the Church. Although the celebratory event for the Shafrans was held in October, the actual anniversary date of Fr. Paul’s ordination is December 28, and their wedding anniversary date is November 27.

During the fall celebration, which took place at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Church, Trenton, NJ, where Fr. Paul served as pastor for more than five decades and now is Pastor Emeritus, the couple was presented with a surprise gift: the announcement of an endowed seminary fund established in their name: “The Very Reverend Paul and Matushka Mary Shafran Endowment.” The endowment will provide funds to benefit all aspects of student life at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. (Learn more about the inception of the Shafran Endowment, here.)

The Shafrans, with clergy and altar server, following Divine Liturgy (photo: Irakli Chikhladze)The Shafrans, with clergy and altar server, following Divine Liturgy (photo: Irakli Chikhladze)Among the 135 guests on hand to honor the Shafrans were the Very Reverend Joseph Lickwar, chancellor of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, Orthodox Church in America; Fr. Paul and Mat. Mary’s family members, and current and former parishioners; and several clergy, including the Reverend Volodymyr Chaikivskyi, current rector in the Trenton parish. Also on hand were many well-wishers from St. Vladimir’s Seminary, including seminary President the Very Reverend Dr. Chad Hatfield; Senior Advisor for Advancement Theodore Bazil; Trustee Emeritus Anthony Kasmer and current Trustees Tatiana and Jeff Hoff; and visiting seminarians. His Eminence the Most Reverend Michael, archbishop of New York City and the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, could not attend due to an unexpected archpastoral responsibility. In his stead, Fr. Lickwar presented Fr. Paul and Mat. Mary with gramotas signed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, primate of the Orthodox Church in America, and members of the Holy Synod of Bishops, commending their 70 years of service to the Church and their 70 years of marriage.  He also read two letters from Archbishop Michael, similarly commending the couple.

Visiting family members from near and far came to honor Mat. Mary and Fr. Paul Shafran on the occasion of their 70th anniversary. (photo: Irakli Chikhladze)Visiting family members from near and far came to honor Mat. Mary and Fr. Paul Shafran on the occasion of their 70th anniversary. (photo: Irakli Chikhladze)The celebration began with Divine Liturgy and was followed by a banquet in the parish’s “Daria Hall.” Speakers feting Fr. Paul and Mat. Mary included the Very Reverend Daniel Skvir, a long-time friend of the Shafrans, who also served as Master of Ceremonies, and Fathers Joseph Lickwar, Volodymyr Chaikivskyi, and Chad Hatfield. Numerous parishioners, family members, and other guests spoke during the “open mic” segment of the program, offering both humorous and tender vignettes about the Shafrans. (View the full program here, which includes a handwritten note from Protopresbyter Thomas and Mat. Ann Hopko on the occasion of Fr. Paul’s 65th anniversary of ordination.)

In his remarks, Fr. Chad praised Fr. Paul and Mat. Mary for their dedication to St. Vladimir’s Seminary, to their parish, and to the Church, prior to announcing the establishment of the endowed fund in the Shafrans’ name. Calling Fr. Paul “the gold standard of the conduct of a priest,” Fr. Chad commended him for blending “the theological with that which is practical” throughout his ministry and for loving his people. These traits, Fr. Chad noted, are the “marks of a great priest.” (View a video of Fr. Chad’s full remarks here.)

Father Paul has served the Seminary for more than 60 years. During the deanship of the Very Reverend Dr. Georges Florovsky [1949–1955], he served as Instructor of Liturgics at St. Vladimir’s, beginning in 1951. Now a Trustee Emeritus of the Seminary, Fr. Paul also accomplished much in his capacity as a Board of Trustees member over the decades. (He is the Seminary’s longest-serving Trustee.) He was instrumental, for example, in acquiring two important collections for the seminary library: part of Fr. Florovsky’s private collection and the personal library of Archimandrite Anthony Repella. He and Mat. Mary continue to be generous supporters of the Seminary.

Our entire seminary community thanks Fr. Paul and Mat. Mary for their service and support, and wishes them many blessed years!


View a gallery of photos of the celebration, taken by: Irakli Chikhladze, Fr. Chad Hatfield, Tatiana Hoff, Mat. Sandy Kopestonsky, and Nina Shafran.

View several videos of interviews with Fr. Paul and Mat. Mary, describing their life-long ministry here. The videos are part of the “Gift and Grace: Stories of Orthodox Clergy and Their Wives” series, a project of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, OCA, created by the Very Reverend John Shimchick.

Do you wish to donate to the “The Very Reverend Paul and Matushka Mary Shafran Endowment”? You may do so directly online here; just indicate your intent in the “Designation” category in the drop-down menu at the bottom of the donation page. Or, you may make a pledge to the fund here; simply download and complete the form, and mail it to the Seminary as indicated.