In Memoriam: Mitchell Zunich

With faith in Christ and hope in the resurrection, we share news of the repose of St. Vladimir’s Seminary Trustee Emeritus Mitchell Zunich. Zunich, 93, died on the Feast of Holy Pascha, Sunday, April 19, at his home at St. Mary of the Woods Assisted Living in Avon, OH.

Zunich was born May 10, 1926 in Lorain, OH. He served with the US Army during World War II in the 357th Regiment of the 90th Infantry Division. During his service, he participated in the battles of Rhineland and Central Europe and received the European-African-Middle-Eastern Theater Ribbon with two Bronze Stars, a Good Conduct Medal, a WWII Victory Medal and an Occupation Medal for Germany. His division was awarded the Bronze Star and participated in the liberation of Flossenburg Concentration Camp. Zunich attended the Ohio State University where he earned a bachelor of science in accounting. He founded Mitchell Zunich & Co. Certified Public Accountants, retiring in 2001. He was active in the community, having served as an officer, president, and board member of many organizations including the Lorain Rotary Club, Lorain Salvation Army, Lorain Metropolitan Housing Authority, the City Bank Co., Lorain Family YMCA, Clearview School Board, and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. In the 1990s, Mitchell and his wife, Violet, helped establish a scholarship for Serbian Orthodox seminarians at St. Vladimir’s so that no young Serbian Orthodox men would be turned away from becoming priests. Zunich was a member of St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in Lorain, the Serbian National Federation, the Ohio Society of CPAs, and the AICPA.

"Mitch was honored to be on the Seminary’s Board of Trustees," said fellow St. Vladimir's Trustee Emeritus Brian Gerich. "He served many years as one of the four Serbian trustees along with [Trustee Emeritus] Alex Machaskee, Leon Lysaght, and myself.

"During our 1990’s Capital Campaign, I asked Mitch to join with me in establishing endowments for scholarships for Serbian Orthodox students studying to become priests. He immediately accepted, and he and his beloved wife Violet added to their endowment regularly. Mitch was pleased to know that as students graduated they were debt free as they prepared for a lifetime of serving our Lord."

"I remember Mitch as a quiet, decisive, compassionate gentleman who was a staunch supporter of our Orthodox Christian faith and a great contributor of time, talent, and treasure to St. Vladimir's Seminary," added Alex Machaskee. "He was a founding contributor to Monastery Marcha in Richfield Ohio, a decorated veteran of World War II, and a highly esteemed civic leader."

Mitchell Zunich is survived by his sons, Mitch Zunich of Cleveland and Rob (Eva) Zunich of Avon Lake; grandchildren, Neven, Dane, Rada, and Mila Zunich; and sister, Sophie Tyrin of Chicago. Zunich was preceded in death by his wife of 58 years, Violet M. Zunich (née Kobac) on Sept 7, 2014; infant son, Nick Zunich, in 1959; parents, Nikola & Stanka Zunich (née Kunic); brothers, Demeter, George, Nick, and Mike Zunich; and sisters, Mildred Stamatis, Dorothy Kovan, Nellie Raynovich, and Mary Zunich.

Due to restrictions on social gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, private family funeral services will be held. Hieromonk Nektarije Tesanovic of St. George Serbian Orthodox Church will preside with burial to follow in Elmwood Cemetery in Lorain. Memorial contributions may be made to St. George Serbian Orthodox Church, 3355 Grove Ave, Lorain, OH, 44055 or St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, 575 Scarsdale Rd, Yonkers, NY, 10707. Arrangements are under the direction of Gluvna-Shimo-Hromada Funeral Chapel, 3224 Broadway Ave, Lorain. Online condolences may be made at

May the memory of Mitchell Zunich be eternal!


(The photo and some information in this article have been reprinted from The Morning Journal.)

Darkness into Light: Working through Grief During the Holiday Season

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Join us for the third webinar in The Light of the World Webinar Series. This monthly webinar series features speakers from among St Vladimir’s Seminary faculty, alumni, and friends, presenting on a variety of topics while answering a core question:

How are we Christians to be the light of the world?

Drawing inspiration from feedback received through a recent survey we conducted, these webinars aim to address a diverse range of themes related to real and pressing issues facing Orthodox faithful in modern society. 

The third webinar in the Light of the World Webinar Series is entitled: Darkness into Light: Working through Grief During the Holiday Season. It will be co-hosted by Dr Daniel Hinshaw, SVS Press author and Professor Emeritus of Surgery at the University of Michigan School of Medicine, and Dr Sarah Byrne-Martelli (D.Min. ‘19), author, grief coach, and Senior Chaplain for the Division of Palliative Care and Geriatric Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. This webinar will be held on Thursday, December 14, 2023, from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. Eastern, via Zoom livestream.

The online webinar is open to the public and free of cost. It will be recorded and uploaded to our YouTube channel afterward for easy access. Click the button below to register and to receive the Zoom webinar link.


In Memoriam: Archpriest Michael Oleksa

Fr Michael Oleksa

With faith in Christ and hope in the resurrection, we share the news of the repose of Archpriest Michael Oleska (M.Div. ‘73), who fell asleep in the Lord on the morning of November 29, 2023, after suffering a stroke. His Grace Bishop Alexei of Sitka and Alaska anointed Fr Michael with holy oil and administered last rites in the presence of his brother clergy and his family.

Fr Michael Oleska is well known as a missionary priest and student of Native Alaskan culture who dedicated decades of his life to the Orthodox Church in Alaska. He served as a priest in over a dozen Native Alaskan villages over the years. During his last 35 years in Alaska, he also served as a university professor and consultant on intercultural relations and communications, and authored several books on Alaskan Native cultures and history. A 1969 graduate of Georgetown University, he went on to receive a Master of Divinity degree from St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVOTS) in 1973. Fr Oleksa earned his doctoral degree in Presov, Slovakia, in 1988. 

Fr Michael was a prolific speaker and church educator. His four-part PBS television series, Communicating Across Cultures, has been widely acclaimed. He recently joined Fr Nicholas Molodyko-Harris to speak about the recent canonization of St Olga of Alaska.

The recipient of numerous awards from local, state, and federal agencies, as well as the Alaska Federation of Natives, Fr Michael taught on all three main campuses of the University of Alaska system and at Alaska Pacific University as well. 

Fr Michael authored two books published by St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Orthodox Alaska: A Theology of Mission and Alaskan Missionary Spirituality; he also contributed many articles to St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly.

Ted Bazil, planned gift officer and senior-most staff member at St Vladimir's Seminary, attended St Vladimir's as a seminarian with Fr Michael Oleksa in the early 1970s. He wrote the following reflection on his memories of Fr Michael, a lifelong friend.

“Fr Michael was destined for missionary work. During his first year as a seminarian in 1970, Fr Michael jumped at the open request of Metropolitan Theodosius, at the time the OCA diocesan bishop of Alaska, for any student from St Vladimir's Seminary to come to Alaska for the summer and work as a catechetical instructor in an Alaskan Native village. Fr Michael was assigned to instruct and lead the children and adults in Three Saints Orthodox Church in Old Harbor, AK, on Kodiak Island, where I later joined him.

Photo 1 Fr Michael

Fr Michael's arrival in Old Harbor

 Name Photo 2 Fr Michael

Fr Michael teaching Old Harbor children

Photo 3 Fr Michael

Fr Michael in Three Saints Orthodox church with children

Photo 4 Fr Michael

Fr Michael leading a service for the blessing of the fishing boats in Old Harbor

Photo 5 Fr Michael

Photo taken during the canonization of St Herman in 1970 in the old chapel of Saints Sergius and Herman of Valaam on Spruce Island, after the first visit to the Island by OCA Metropolitan Ireney (Bekish) and Archbishop Paul of Finland, with clergy and pilgrims. Fr Michael is pictured on the far right, next to Ted Bazil; during the canonization, they were given liturgical and protocol assignments.

“These photos are merely a small snapshot of Fr Michael's first summer in Alaska. It was by divine providence that Fr Michael took up the fire and zeal of his faith after participating in the canonization of St Herman of Alaska at the end of the summer before returning to his studies with new-found exuberance and purpose.

“His example was followed by many other seminarians in the following years who went to Alaska to serve as diocesan missionaries and teachers at St Herman's Seminary in Kodiak. What distinguished Fr Michael is that he returned and stayed in Alaska until his repose, using his God-given talents to defend the faith and boldly lead others into the mystery of the Orthodox Christian Church.

"Fr Michael brought knowledge and joy to all who knew him. He was an inspiration to the people that he served and loved.”

At the time of his repose, Fr Michael was residing in Anchorage with his Yup’ik wife, Xenia, his daughter Anastasia, and one of his three grandsons.

All services for Fr Michael will be held at Saint Innocent Cathedral, 401 Turpin Street, Anchorage, AK, according to the following schedule:

Monday, December 4
3:00 PM Panikhida and viewing

Tuesday, December 5
10:00 AM Funeral Service

The burial will take place following the Funeral Service at Saint John Antiochian Cathedral in Eagle River.

May the memory of Archpriest Michael Oleksa be eternal!

Article adapted from,, the Diocese of Sitka and Alaska Facebook page, and

In Memoriam: Dr Aristeides Papadakis

 Dr Papadakis.jpg

With faith in Christ and hope in the resurrection, we share the news of the repose of Dr Aristeides Papadakis on September 16, 2023. He was born August 1, 1936, to Michael and Stephania Papadakis in Heraklion, Crete, Greece. He moved to New York City with his parents as a young child. He graduated from Holy Cross Orthodox Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, and continued his studies at Fordham University, earning a research fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (Harvard University) in Washington D.C. After completing his Ph.D., he became a professor at the University of Maryland.

Professor Papadakis was a scholar of Byzantine, medieval, and religious history. He was the author of several books and many articles on the history and theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church, which included being asked to act as editorial consultant and contributor to the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. He participated and lectured at international conferences at the invitation of several universities and institutions, including the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences of the Vatican, the Harvard University Center for Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, the University of London, the University of Cyprus, and Fordham University.

Dr Papadakis had great respect and love for the mission of St Vladimir's Seminary and was a long-time supporter and great friend of St Vladimir’s Seminary Press. He also co-authored (with Fr John Meyendorff) Christian East and Rise of the Papacy 1071-1452 in the Church in History Seriesand Crisis in Byzantine: The Filioque Controversy in the Patriarchate of Gregory II of Cyprus  (1283-1289), both published by SVS Press. He was a valued contributor to the St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly and gave frequent lectures and presentations at major seminary events through the years.  

Dr Papadakis is survived by his sister-in-law, Georgia, nieces Anna (David) and Xanthe, his nephew Michael (Carmen), great nephew Cole, and great niece Zoe (Niranjan).

He was a devoted member of the community of St Nicholas Cathedral in Georgetown, Washington D.C.

Friends and family will always remember Aristeides for his gracious manners and gentle spirit.

A memorial service will take place at 10:30 a.m. on September 25th at St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral in Washington D.C.

Interment at Rock Creek Cemetery immediately following the service.

May the memory of Dr Aristeides Papadakis be eternal!

Article adapted from

Giving Thanks as a Community at St Vladimir’s Seminary

Thanksgiving Headline-photo

Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, faculty, staff, seminarians, and their families attended a Moleben of Thanksgiving in Three Hierarchs Chapel, and then gathered in the Metropolitan Philip Auditorium for the annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner. Members of the Board of Trustees also attended, having completed the first day of their two-day fall quarterly meeting.

In keeping with seminary custom, faculty members manned the serving line, dishing out Thanksgiving classics such as turkey, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce for students and their families. Event Coordinator Daria Mayrose orchestrated the event, and made sure each table was stocked with crayons and Thanksgiving-themed coloring sheets to keep the children busy. Each table also featured a decorative sign with messages of gratitude; halfway through the dinner, attendees were asked to look under their seats for the winning ticket. Anyone who found a winning ticket was asked to take the sign at their table and gift it to someone they felt grateful for.

At the conclusion of the dinner, Seminary President, the Very Rev. Dr Chad Hatfield recognized departing board member, David Hicks, thanking him for his years of dedicated service to the St Vladimir’s Seminary Board of Trustees. As a parting gift, Fr Chad presented David with an icon of St Vladimir, hand painted by seminarian Daniel Werner (M.Div. ‘26). 

The evening concluded with hearty portions of pumpkin and apple pie, followed by a group cleanup effort involving staff and students working as a team. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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.”

Great Vespers

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time is approximate, based on the ending of Commencement Exercises.

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