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The St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary, located at the Metropolia Center of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in South Bound Brook, New Jersey, was established in 1975 through the foresight of Patriarch Mstyslav.  Throughout this half century the institution has been striving to train men who have been called to serve in the Holy Priesthood of the Church. 

Throughout the decades the seminary has embraced countless students who have walked through their doors, providing them not only with academic training, but, with pastoral instruction, both of which work hand-in-hand and are required to properly and fully serve the faithful of the Church.  Through both residential and distance-learning programs the institution has fully prepared men to serve in the priesthood.  Graduates are well-versed in Church History, Church Traditions, Liturgics, Patristics, Pastoral Theology and Homiletics, Dogmatics, as well as Ukrainian Orthodox Traditions, Pastoral Care, Counseling, Field Ministry, etc.  Thanks to the highly qualified faculty, the graduates of the seminary are prepared to serve the faithful, assist them on their personal journeys towards the Lord, and lead them to salvation.   

The main seminary building is a spacious three-story colonial structure with Victorian additions. It has ample space for living quarters for as many as fifteen seminarians, as well as offices for the rector, private rooms for the resident provost and director of formation. The seminary chapel is also attached to the main building.

Dedicated to the Three Holy Hierarchs, the chapel is the focus of the seminarian's life of prayer and communal worship. Here the student actively participates in the liturgical life of the Church and is trained to perform all the services proper to Orthodox Tradition.

On February 11, 2023, the small chapel was filled as the faithful gathered to celebrate the Patronal Feast Day of the Three Holy Hierarchs.  With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, Prime Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Diaspora (Rector and Chairman of the Seminary Board), His Eminence Archbishop Daniel (Vice Rector and Provost) served the Divine Liturgy, assisted by numerous local clergy, the seminary students, who were joined by numerous faithful of the Church, and guests who came to pray for and support the Seminary and Ukraine.

Having been greeted by Very Rev. Vasyl Pasakas (Dean of Students) as he entered the chapel, Archbishop Daniel vested in the glowing sunlight that streamed through the windows, surrounded by the faithful who looked on.  Having listened to the reading of the Gospel from Luke 20:46-21:4, as the Lord instructed His followers to “beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts…” and how the seemingly small donation of two mites made by the widow was worth more than the larger donations made by those who had the means, for she gave of her very livelihood.  

Stepping out of the Altar, his robes shimmering in the light, His Eminence delivered a touching and inspiring sermon, focusing on making the eternal Word relevant in today’s world, to today’s people.  Often we hear the words, and we desire to live them and share them, but, we often encounter a wall put up by modern society that focuses on self, self-gratifications, self-knowledge, self-sustainability, etc.  They reject the teachings of God and push back against the Church and Christianity in order to quelch any opposition to what they deem as “freedom”, but, is in fact “slavery” to sin and passion.

Archbishop Daniel continued, that we, as carriers of the light of Christ, and bearers of His word, must be bold, not easily dissuaded, or discouraged.  We must confidently go out into the world and fearlessly, overflowing with love for all, teach the Word of God, and with compassion guide people to salvation in Christ.

He continued by stating that with every passing day new social and moral issues arise, but, we must hold fast to the teachings of the Church, which have no expiration date.  They were true and correct in the days Christ preached them, and continue to be true, correct, and vital for salvation.

Theology is not only knowing the facts about God, but living a God-centered life in every single aspect of our journey.  Whether we are at work, in school, in our cars, at the super market, alone, or surrounded by hundreds, we are called to be the salt of the earth; to preserve the teachings of Christ, to add flavor to an otherwise bitter world, for it is through our own examples that we can lead others to salvation.  Do not discount your effectiveness, and your power over to sway people’s opinions and beliefs.  Live a Christ-centered life, be overjoyed, show love to all, and others will wish to live as you do and seek the source of your joy and hope for themselves.

Having concluded his sermon, Archbishop Daniel continued with the Divine Liturgy.  As the incense hung heavy in the air, the rays of sunlight continued to dance inside the chapel, bathing the faithful in an ethereal glow, and casting a spirit of hope and peace over them.  Standing in the gilded chapel, the halos of the saints upon the icons shimmering in the sunlight, the rays of sun illuminating the sacred items, those who stood there and prayed were strengthened and emboldened, having grasped the gravity of the words spoken during the sermon.

As the service concluded everyone headed to the seminary dining area where they enjoyed a relaxed afternoon in each other’s company.  Joyfully sharing stories, offering advice, and assuring each other of continued support as they travel upon their own journeys through life.

With such a joyous and spiritually uplifting celebration, the seminary stands as a beacon of light a top the hill, through the arduous work of the faculty and the studious efforts of the students, that shines brightly upon the world near and far, and will continue for many years to lead humanity towards salvation in Christ.

Photos by Subdeacon Andrii Vatrych

(28 images)

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