Retired OCA Military Chaplains awarded pectoral crosses during 19th AAC

Pradeep Hatcher

Three SVOTS alumni were among the retired military chaplains awarded the Military Pectoral Cross during the Orthodox Church in America (OCA)’s 19th All-American Council (AAC) in Saint Louis, MO in July.

His Beatitude, The Most Blessed Tikhon, archbishop of Washington and metropolitan of All America and Canada, presented crosses at the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy celebrated on Thursday, July 26 to Archpriest Peter Baktis, US Army; Archpriest Andrew Harrison, US Air Force Reserve; and Archpriest Mark Koczak, US Navy. Retired chaplains who were unable to attend the AAC will receive their crosses from their respective diocesan bishops, on behalf of Metropolitan Tikhon and the Holy Synod of Bishops, at local celebrations.

Archpriest Peter Baktis graduated with a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from St. Vladimir’s Seminary in 1985 and is a current Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) student in the Cohort of 2019; Archpriest Andrew Harrison graduated from SVOTS with a M.Div. in 1969; Archpriest Mark Koczak obtained his M.Div. in SVOTS’ class of 1982.

Archpriest Andrew HarrisonArchpriest Andrew HarrisonArchpriest Mark KoczakArchpriest Mark KoczakV. Rev. Peter BaktisV. Rev. Peter Baktis“The Primatial Award is presented to Orthodox clergy who have served in the United States Armed Forces as military chaplains in the Active Duty, Reserve Component or National Guard Chaplaincy per specified criteria in the protocols in recognition of exemplary and honorable service,” explained Archpriest Theodore Boback, dean and executive director of Orthodox Military and Veterans Administration Chaplains.

The cross initially was designed and awarded to senior military chaplains in the 1970s.  The original design was the work of the late Walter Palchik, an Orthodox Christian jeweler.

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