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New Academic Year at the Seminary

Photos by Subdeacon Ivan Chopko


Early morning sun of September 14, 2015 streamed through glass windows bathing the Three Holy Hierarchs Ukrainian Orthodox Chapel in warm shades of gold as His Grace Bishop Daniel, the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA and Consistory President entered the chapel and was welcomed by the faculty and students, seminarians and non-seminarians, as well as numerous visitors to the Seminary at the beginning of yet another year of study at St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Bound Brook, NJ.

Entering the chapel, Bishop Daniel was greeted by the second year seminarian Subdeacon Volodymyr Yavorsky, who on behalf of the entire student body presented Vladyka with the homemade Korovaj-bread, prepared in honor of the beginning of the New Ecclesiastical Year in the life of the Church. Very Rev. Bazyl Zawierucha, Provost of St. Sophia Seminary, greeting the bishop called upon him to remember in his prayers numerous students of the Church’s academic school as well as many suffering Christian and non-Christian Refugees in Ukraine, Middle East and other parts of the World.

Responding to the words of greetings, Vladyka Daniel speaking on behalf of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony (Rector of St. Sophia Seminary) stated: “We are most pleased to welcome these talented individuals to the seminary community. We are grateful for the gifts they bring and the contributions they will make as we serve together to form servants in Christ the Savior who teach the faithful, reach the lost and care for all… The start of another academic year is an exciting time as faculty and students gather for the study of theology, especially the proclamation of Christ Crucified and Risen for the eternal salvation of sinners,” said Bishop Daniel, who also serves as Dean of Students. “We particularly rejoice that the Holy Spirit continues to draw faithful men and women from the parish communities across our Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA into our Priestly Formation, Distance Learning and Youth Ministry programs so that they may be formed as servants in Jesus Christ who teach the faithful, reach the lost and care for all.”

Prior to the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, Vladyka Daniel led a short blessing service of cassocks and ecclesiastical robes for the six new students of the Seminary: Mykhaylo Bokalo, Vladyslav Huk, Ivan Hlukhaniuk, Hryhoriy Matviiv, Mykola Zomchak and Vasyl Hrytskiv. Immediately following the blessing service, His Grace set aside Reader Vasyl Shakh as Subdeacon of the Church.

During the introductory words of welcome to the Subdeacon and new seminarians, Bishop Daniel mentioned that they could expect to be questioned about their choice to enter the seminary and to live the life of priestly service.

“Today, and it was probably true throughout the history of the world and throughout the history of the Church, many people in our society will say to you: Why are you doing this? What do you think you are going to accomplish?” You and I know that each of us can give many answers depending on our own backgrounds and experiences. But across all our personalities and all our individual motivations there has to be one fundamental reality that brings us to study here... It is a response to an inner voice that holds out to you a promise and an invitation. It is God’s wish that you hear. And it is His word that informs you of His will. He promises you a share in His Son’s Servant Priesthood and He invites you to respond freely.”

Once the words of hierodecon Vasyl “Command, Master…” were proclaimed, the Divine Liturgy started with Very Rev. Fr. Bazyl Zawierucha, Very Rev. Fr. Yuriy Siwko, Very Rev. Fr. Stephen Hutnick, Very Rev. Fr. Ivan Lyszyk, Very Rev. Fr. Taras Naumenko, Very Rev. Fr. Yuriy Kasianov, Very Rev. Fr. Anthony Parkins, Rev. Fr. Vasyl Pasakas, Hierodeacon Vasyl and Deacon Paul Cherkas concelebrating with the bishop. The entire student body under the leadership of seminarians Ihor Protsak and Yurii Bobko led the chanting. There were moments during the service that those in attendance were inspired by the chanting voices to close their eyes and to listen to the Words of God and glorification hymns. Very Rev. Fr. Stephen Hutnick and Rev. Fr. Vasyl Pasakas delivered sermons in English and Ukrainian languages, urging the faithful to keep the seminarians in their prayers during each day as they struggle through life in a society, which will continually tempt them in order to draw them away from their calling. 

At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, and prayerful chanting of GOD GRANT YOU MANY YEARS, Bishop Daniel spoke briefly, informing everyone in attendance that with about 4 programs running simultaneously, the student body of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary of the Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA consists of 30 individuals: 12 full-time students (Subdeacon Ivan Chopko, Sunbdeacon Volodymyr Yavorskyy, Seminarians Taras Kaluzhnyy, Ihor Protsak, Tadei Surak, Yurii Bobko, Mykola Zomchak, Vladyslav Huk, Mykhaylo Bokalo, Ivan Hlukhaniuk, Hryhorii Matviiv, Vasyl Hrytskiv), 6 in Priestly Formation Program (Deacon John Charest, Deacon Paul Cherkas, Deacon Michael Abrahamson, Aleksey Dobyuk and David Murphy) along with Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay; 7 in Distance Learning Program (Victor Poletajev, Paul Neal, Clint Kifolo, Cliff O'Neil, Christopher Encapera, Chris Burgan and Valentine Olynyk) and 5 in Youth Ministry Program (Daria Pishko-Komichak, Jessica R Andrews, Andrea Roelofs, Mary Ost, Margarita Danylyuk) – these 30 students and seminarians of our Holy Church have responded to our Lord’s invitation and opened their hearts to His voice and the instructions of the Seminary spiritual fathers and faculty.

Speaking with seminarians, bishop Daniel also gave the seminarians a few points to consider during their upcoming year of formation as they prepare for their eventual Priestly ordinations: the centrality and importance of Holy Eucharist “in the life of the Church and in our lives,” and calling to Priesthood as “a gift from God for our priestly identity,” maintaining a “priestly way of living,” avoiding “clericalism, that separates the clergy from the faithful, thus betraying the ministry of service of Christ the Shepherd of Souls.”

As always, following the Divine Liturgy, the faculty, seminarians and clergy took a formal 2015-2016 Seminary Photograph. Immediately following that everyone in attendance shared in the Agape meal prepared by the Seminary’s chef – Mrs. Maria Morozovska.

Please continue to pray for the group of seminarians of St. Sophia Seminary and for this new 2015-2016 academic year.  Along with the rigors of academics we wish to develop them in their ministry and spiritual maturity. 

Therefore, we humbly that you consider making a gift to sustain the educational aspirations of our students. If you would like to make a donation, please click here>

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