Seminarians Speak

Meet a Seminarian: Philip McClanahan


Philip McClanahan is a third-year M.Div. student from the Antiochian Archdiocese. Philip and his wife, Kristiana, have a daughter, Irene, and a son, Simon.


How has your seminary experience been since the pandemic started?

When COVID really kicked in at the beginning of March [2020], it was obviously challenging for everyone. On campus we were inside so much with a full on lockdown at the beginning; we were home all the time and not able to go out and do things very much. It was challenging to start to hear of people having COVID and of others losing people to COVID. 

As far as academic challenges, in the spring, yes, it was challenging. I had all my classes in person at the beginning of the semester and then it got interrupted, and I found it hard. It was hard meeting online, especially at home when you have children running around and all the distractions! It was hard to find space to do things at home. 

But what I’m really happy about here at St Vladimir’s is that we chose to go the “in-person route” for 2020/2021. I would have done anything to be able to go to class! It’s been very good. I’ve enjoyed it tremendously, especially since it’s my last year. I’m taking pastoral theology where we talk about all the practical stuff—I hope to be a priest and a missionary with my family someday. In homiletics class, working on homilies has been good. It’s a busy and different semester! I’m so glad that we still have our services in the multiple chapel locations even if rather than a full choir there is just one singer and one reader. 

Why is the community life so important to you for what you’re doing and want to do?

It’s so important to make these connections; these are people that hopefully we’ll know for years to come, whether it be in clergy, ministry, or other ministries. Your hope is that you can build relationships with these people for mutual encouragement now and later. You can certainly do some of this online, but nothing beats the face-to-face connection. 

What do you take from the COVID experience?

I hope my generation of seminarians will have some unique strengths to take to parishes…perhaps it would be that we can adapt and do things differently using technology. We will have the ability to be a little more chameleon-like, and work with different groups of people.

I hope we will have a renewed emphasis on the importance of our social life, not just within our families but with our friends and our fellow parishioners, really taking that time to meet and do things with people in person. When it’s safe, I hope that we’ll have a renewed commitment to building relationships for the Kingdom of God.

I’m so glad we’re here and that the year is continuing here at St. Vladimir’s, in person. It was a bold move to go in this direction, and a good one. 

You are involved with the St. Innocent Mission Society here on campus. Have you always been interested in mission work?

Before I was Orthodox I did some mission work in the Middle East. Then I went on a long spiritual quest and entered into Orthodoxy in 2010. When I met my wife one of the things we had in common was an interest in missions. We even contacted OCMC prior to coming to seminary. So it’s been a number of years in the making.

How has St. Vladimir’s made a difference in your feeling of preparedness for the mission field? 

I have really benefited from all the courses. I wanted to get very grounded in liturgics when I came to St. Vladimir’s. One thing needed in Orthodox missions is more Orthodox clergy. I also wanted to be grounded in my knowledge of patristics, and that has been very wonderfully fulfilled here at seminary. There’s been so much here that’s been helpful. 

Practically speaking, being here with all the jurisdictions represented makes it a great place to network and learn about all the Orthodox traditions. This inter-jurisdictional environment is a hallmark of St. Vladimir’s. Sadly in the last decades Orthodox Christianity in North America has gotten more, rather than less, separated into jurisdictions. At St. Vladimir’s, there is that hope for pan-Orthodoxy. We realize we can only truly succeed and do what God has for us if we’re united in the body of Christ and have more of a corporate understanding of the body of the Christ. Certainly we can do so much more with missions if we pool our resources. As we pool our resources globally it’s going to help the missional calling of Christians and the Church.

It does seem like we’ve entered into a phase of real challenges, not just the pandemic, but of splintering in world Orthodoxy and the continually changing dynamics of our society, politically and ethically. When seminarians look ahead we see the huge challenges. It will only be possible if we’re grounded in Christ, knowing that that’s where our strength comes from.

Previous Seminarians Speak articles:

Title Author Date
Meet a Seminarian: Philip McClanahan SVOTS January 11, 2021
Meet a Seminarian: Dn. Andrew Eskandar SVOTS October 12, 2020
Meet a Seminarian: Amber Bennett SVOTS September 23, 2020
Meet a Seminarian: Alexander Earl SVOTS September 9, 2020
Meet a Seminarian: Fr. Giorgi Tskitishvili SVOTS September 3, 2020
Ministry to the poor and suffering: Fr. Theophan Whitfield speaks to Ancient Faith Radio Fr. Theophan Whitfield October 29, 2019
How to Succeed at Seminary Fr. Herman Fields June 3, 2019
A Seeing Human Being: Seminarian Sophia Theodoratos on ‘Sensing Christ and Gaining Sight’ Pradeep Hatcher May 13, 2019
The Wounded Healer interviews Seminarian Dan Bein Pradeep Hatcher November 13, 2018
To come to seminary is special Charles Youngblood September 24, 2018
A Treasury of Blessings in the Pearl of Africa Amal Punnoose June 28, 2018
From Gulu, Uganda to North America, to Guatemala Simon Menya June 30, 2017
Wife of New Seminarian Reflects on “Roaring Good Time” Destinie Winn, wife of Seminarian Jarod Winn June 14, 2017
Welcoming the stranger… Herman Fields February 17, 2017
Students Take Part in IOCC Build Antwian Davis January 23, 2017
A Song of Truth and Worship Sandy Hermansen May 5, 2016
Through the Cross, Joy Andrew and Melissa Cannon April 5, 2016
Romanian Student Discovers New Horizons at St. Vladimir's Alexandru Popovici March 27, 2016
Living the Gospel: Seminarian, Alumnus Join IOCC New Orleans Project Team Erik Potter March 7, 2016
Go to Seminary Now? Christopher Moore March 2, 2016
Led by God's Hand Lauren Pulley February 16, 2016
From Gulu, Uganda to Yonkers, New York: Seminarian Simon Menya's Report Simon Menya February 4, 2016
Changed by His Grace Thomas Totonchy January 18, 2016
Article Profiles Seminarian and Iconographer Seraphim O'Keefe Alan Pell Crawford December 30, 2015
A Whole New World Alex Mackoul December 15, 2015
Pursuing an Infinite God: a journey of the mind and the heart Peter Mansour October 23, 2015
Four Things I’ve Learned (So Far) Fr. Theophan Whitfield September 28, 2015
The Way of a Pilgrim Abraam Mikhail June 22, 2015
Sowing Seeds, Reaping Blessings: A Mission Trip to Kenya Shawn Thomas May 21, 2015
"Glory be to Thee who hast shown us the light..." Rami Dahdal May 14, 2015
In Pursuit of a Focusing of the Faith Nikita Andrejev March 16, 2015
To Lead, We Must Learn How to Serve Fr. Mark Vair February 10, 2015
At the National Festival of Young Preachers Tristan Gall January 9, 2015
The Saints John Mikitish December 16, 2014
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall... Lijin Raju November 19, 2014
Transfiguration Seraphim Long October 16, 2014
What I Did This Summer Dn. Theodor Svane September 23, 2014
Restoring the Western Rite Ian Abodeely August 14, 2014
"Delicately Perched": An Armenian Student's End-of-year Insights Kathryn Ashbahian May 7, 2014
The Vocation of Fatherhood Joshua Trant April 2, 2014
A Unique Orthodox Community Experience Dn. Shiryl Mathai March 10, 2014
The Festival of Young Preachers, 2014 Fr. Gabreil Alemayehu February 14, 2014
The Road to Hospital Chaplaincy Beryl Knudsen February 4, 2014
How Many are Your Works, O Lord! Bogdan Neacsiu December 5, 2013
Oregon and New York, Farm and Seminary Ashli Moore October 23, 2013
Reflections on a New Academic Year Sandro Margheritino September 24, 2013
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We Are Being Formed Daily Jabra Tannous November 26, 2012
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A Life in Christ Under Guard Harrison Basil Russin September 25, 2012
For a Monastic, Seminary Life Seems "Ideal" Monk James March 13, 2012
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"I was in prison, and you visited me." (Matt 25:37) Adam Horstman March 14, 2011
Bless These Waters: Theophany at SVOTS David Wooten January 14, 2011
Feasting before the Fast, Thanksgiving at SVOTS Sarah Bracey-Johnson November 22, 2010
"It's Worth It": Reflection on "Ed Day" Andrew Boyd October 29, 2010
"I (used to) Play in a Rock Band" Jamey Bozeman September 15, 2010
St. Vladimir’s Seminary and the Upward Call Fr. Lucas Rice July 19, 2010
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