Priests of the St. Louis Area – Part 2of 2

VERY REVEREND PAUL SAWCHAK
Saint Michael’s Orthodox Church, St. Louis, MO

The life of Father Paul Sawchak was intimately connected to the Orthodox Church in America from the time of his birth until his falling asleep in the Lord. He was born in Sewickley, PA on August 8, 1942 to Helen and Stephen Sawchak. Helen was born in Heidelberg, PA in 1916 and her home parish was the Intercession of the Virgin Mary Church in Carnegie, PA. Stephen was born on the South Side of Pittsburgh in 1916 and his home parish was the Holy Assumption of Saint Mary Church in Pittsburgh, PA. Helen and Stephen built a home in Baden, PA and Father Paul’s home parish was Holy Ghost Church in Ambridge, PA.

Father Paul and his parents were very active in the FROC (Federated Russian Orthodox Club, now FOCA) and his aunt, Julia Felk was a long-time President. Julia fell asleep in the Lord in 2001.

Father Paul enlisted in the Army right out of High School and served as a medic. He was married to Helen Jancosko of Bethlehem, PA on August 29, 1964 and then enrolled at Saint Tikhon’s Seminary where his two children were born – Timothy in 1965 and Stephen in 1967. Tragically, Helen fell asleep in the Lord on July, 11, 1968 of a brain tumor only three months after Father Paul was ordained to the Holy Diaconate by Bishop Kiprian. Immediately upon the death of Helen, Father Paul’s parents moved in with him to help raise the two young boys. Prior to graduating from Saint Tikhons in 1969, Father Paul was ordained to the Holy Priesthood on April 6, 1969 by Bishop Kiprian and then was assigned to Saint John the Baptist Church in Black Lick, PA, in 1970. Father Paul’s choir director in Black Lick was Richard Osacky who would later become Archbishop Job who would ordain his son, Timothy, to the Holy Priesthood on August 13, 1994 at Saint Michael the Archangel Church in St. Louis, MO.

In 1972, Father Paul was assigned to Saints Peter and Paul Church in Crossingville, PA, and then to Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral in Los Angeles, CA in 1978. Father Paul was assigned to Saint Michael the Archangel Church in St. Louis, MO in the summer of 1978, where he became very active as a Chaplain in the St. Louis Metropolitan area in many different roles. His love was working with the St. Louis County police, but he was also a chaplain for the St. Louis Airport, FBI, and ATF. Father Paul was also the long-time Dean of the St. Louis Deanery.

Fater Paul was instrumental in the creation of Saint Thomas the Apostle Church in Springfield, MO, along with many other clergy from the St. Louis Deanery including Father John Platko, Father Gregory Dye and and Father Joseph Hirsch.

Suddenly on Valentine’s Day 1997, Father Paul reposed at the age of 54 and is buried at Saint Tikhons Monastery in South Canaan, PA along with his wife, Matushka Helen, and his parents Helen and Stephen.

Father Paul’s children still reside within the Kansas City Deanery. Stephen and his wife, Shelly reside in Battlefield, MO along with their children Sam and Aaron. Sam is a freshman at Missouri State University and Aaron is a Junior in High School. Stephen is the Athletic Trainer for the football team at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO and he and his family.

Father Timothy and his wife, Jennifer live in Gardner, KS along with their children Benjamin and Nathaniel. Benjamin is a freshman at the University of Kansas and Nathaniel is a junior in High School. Father Timothy has been the rector at Holy Trinity Church in Overland Park, KS, since 2005 and is also the Dean of the Kansas City Deanery.

VERY REVEREND F. THOMAS SUCCAROTTE
Nativity of the Virgin Mary in Madison, IL

The Nativity of the Virgin Mary has been blessed with several priests over its 117- year history. These men have served the parish and provided guidance and growth for our members towards the Kingdom of God. Archpriest Thomas Succarotte was one of those men who stands out with the longest service to our parish from 1979-2010.

Father Thomas was born in Wilmington, Delaware on September 16, 1944 and grew up attending Saint Michael’s Parish in Wilmington. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Corporate Finance from Pennsylvania Military College (now Widener University) and in 1965 married his wife Tanya Button. Father Thomas then began working for the DuPont Company in Wilmington and worked there for 12 years.

In 1976, Father decided to attend Saint Vladimir’s Seminary and received his Master of Divinity degree on May 1, 1978. He was subsequently ordained to the diaconate and priesthood. On August 1, 1979, Father Thomas, Matushka Tanya and their son Mark began their service to our parish.

During his appointment to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, Father Thomas became an integral part of the parish family and the community. He worked closely with the Ladies Sodality, FROC and other parish groups to promote our work and help the parish grow. Throughout his time as parish priest, the membership grew and evolved adding many new members. It was always a joy for Father to serve a wedding, or a baptism and he would share the grief of the parish family when a death occurred.

In 1989, Father Thomas worked tirelessly with other local clergy and lay people to make the 9th All American Council in St. Louis a huge success. In 1995, Father Thomas was awarded the rank of Archpriest and accepted the honor with humility and a continued dedication towards the up building of God’s Holy Church. In 2000, our parish celebrated the milestone of 100 years and again, Father Thomas made sure that our anniversary was a time to honor the past and dedicate ourselves to the future of the parish and its work for the Glory of God.

In addition to his pastoral duties, Father Thomas served as the Dean of the St. Louis Deanery for many years. He served as the police chaplain for Madison, Granite City and Pontoon Beach Illinois Police Departments as well as the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, Illinois State Police, FBI and ATF. He was Chaplain for the Missouri and Illinois Railroad Police Association and was instrumental in establishing the Chaplain Program for the ATF.

Throughout his years of service, Father Thomas struggled with health issues that challenged his ability to serve. These struggles, however, never deterred him. He would push beyond his limits to assure his parish had services, and would spend his days visiting the ill and the shut-ins. As time passed and this became harder for him, he would spend his days making phone calls just to simply say hello and let his parishioners know that he was praying for them. His commitment to his flock never wavered.

Father Thomas and Matushka Tanya retired on December 31, 2010 after 31 years. His work has left a permanent mark on the Nativity of the Virgin Mary and his dedication to his Lord and his flock will forever be remembered. Father Thomas passed away on August 8, 2015 after a long and difficult battle. May his memory be eternal!

VERY REVEREND ANDREW MOULTON
Saints Cyril & Methody Orthodox Church, Granite City, IL

Father Andrew Moulton likes to tell people now that he was born into a military family and never lived anywhere very long until he came to Granite City, that he envied the old-timers in Granite City that had lived there their whole life. Born in “East L.A.,” as he likes to say, he also lived in Cleveland, Northern Spain, Pensacola and Alexandria, to name a few. Then, in college at Michigan State, he met the girl he would marry, Joan Yarbrough, also a military kid.

Raised what they would call “Protestant Base Chapel,” their life took a dramatic turn to the East when Joan got a ride during a snowstorm from a priest who offered a ride to the college kids that needed to get to Detroit International, where their flights were being re-routed. She discovered that Father Photius was a kind man, who also happened to teach some religion classes at Michigan State, which, she decided, she and her boyfriend should take. They ended up converting to Orthodoxy with Father Photius in the Moscow Patriarchate and, later that same decade, Reader Andrew became Subdeacon Andrew, then Deacon Andrew and Father Andrew. In 1984, when Father Photius died, Father Andrew was the priest on hand to close his eyes. Also in the 1970s and 1980s, Popadia Joan gave birth to four children – three boys and a girl.

In the mid-1980s, Father Andrew transferred to the Bulgarian Diocese of the OCA under Archbishop Kirill. The family spent three years at Saint Nicholas Church in Flint, Michigan. Then, in 1987, Father Andrew was transferred to be rector of Saints Cyril & Methody Church in Granite City, Illinois, where he has been assigned ever since. He also works as a network administrator at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

When he’s not putting together bulletins and sermons or helping doctors move MRI images around to various computers, father is an ardent St. Louis Cardinals fan and enjoys attending the St. Louis Symphony with Popadia Joan. They now have six grandchildren, split between Chicago and Kansas. He is always looking for a new, good Orthodox book, so let him know if you’ve read any interesting lives of the saints or writings by the saints.

Father Andrew was responsible for changing the registration system at All American Councils from paper records to electronic, computerizing the process in 1989 at the 9th All American Council in St. Louis. At this coming All-American Council in St. Louis, Father Andrew will again be responsible for Registration, managing a high tech computerized system with bar codes and databases of information that got it’s start way back in 1989, thanks to Father Andrew’s knowledge, skill and perseverance.

VERY REVEREND JOHN PLATKO
Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, Olathe, KS

Born on January 19, 1948 in Joliet, Illinois, Father John spent his youth in Illinois where he showed an early aptitude for music. Among the instruments he played were piano, French horn, trumpet, and banjo. He attended Iona College, New Rochelle, NY, and received a degree in music theory and application from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL. He received the Master in Divinity degree from Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Crestwood, NY.

In 1977, he and his wife, Aphrodite, relocated to the Kansas City area, where he continued his scholarly pursuit of music theory at Kansas University and served as deacon at Saint Theodore of Tarsus Church. Shortly thereafter, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood and began his 26-year pastorate at Holy Trinity Church, then located in Kansas City, Kansas. In addition to his pastoral duties, he served as dean of the Saint Louis Deanery.

Father John was well known for sharing generously his many gifts with countless friends. As a composer, he shared his talent with choirs across the nation. As a scholar, he taught courses in liturgical music at Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, South Canaan, PA. A gifted vocalist with perfect pitch, he was a member of Saint Vladimir’s Octet and once performed in Lincoln Center. Throughout his priesthood, his true and solid voice led his parish in prayer for thousands of services. As a master carpenter and architect, he renovated the parish’s original buildings and was the primary visionary for the design of the parish’s recently constructed church. His interests ranged from fixing cars to teaching piano to enjoying sports of all types. He also taught music at Notre Dame de Sion lower school. Additional interests included reading works of American history and the writings of the Church Fathers. He also lectured on Church history at Nazarene College, Kansas City, MO.

Committed to service, Father John served on the board of trustees at Bethany Hospital for a number of years. Truly a pastor, he knew his flock well, as evidenced in his memorable and personal homilies. Dedicated to the youth of the Church, he was the primary leader and teacher at the area’s annual pan-Orthodox summer camps for 23 years.

The legacy that Father John left is measureless and only beginning to be fully realized. A devoted husband and father, his generous love allowed him to become a father to his entire parish family. Unerringly, he saw the best in everyone. His family, friends, and parishioners were blessed to share in his stable leadership and vision. Under his guidance, Holy Trinity parish became a flourishing community. He was not only gifted, but giving, the embodiment of joy. Whether entertaining the children, who loved him unstintingly, or helping in the kitchen during festivals, he was ever-present in the lives of his friends and family. With dignity and humility he guided his parishioners to the light of truth and wisdom.

Registration opens for 19th AAC Youth Program volunteers

Registration is now open for adults interested in serving as counselors during the Youth Program at the 19th All-American Council [AAC] in Saint Louis, MO, July 23-27, 2018.

Ideal candidates for counselor positions are active members (ages 18+) of any canonical Orthodox Christian parish in North America; those with past AAC experience as youth participants, counselors or educators; those with experience as camp counselors or directors and/or Church school teachers or directors; members of Orthodox Christian Fellowship chapters; and seminarians from any Orthodox theological seminary in North America.

Preferred skillsets for counselors include, but are not limited to, teaching experience (elementary through high school levels); junior or senior camp counselor roles; working with youth ages 5-17; familiarity with Church music (singing, directing, chanting, or reading); experience as a server, subdeacon or sacristan; experience with the liturgical arts (iconography and music); video and photography and related computer experience; certification as a lifeguard; CRP training; experience as a nurse or nurse practitioner; and proficiency in languages other than English.

“Applicants selected to serve as counselors will be expected to participate in all aspects of the Youth Program during the 19th AAC, including educational, worship, fellowship and service components,” said Priest Benjamin Tucci, who will be overseeing the program. “The majority of the program activities will take place at the Saint Louis Union Station Hotel, independently of the main AAC working sessions, while some youth-related activities will take place off-site.”

Applicants may apply on-line. Early application is encouraged due to a limited number of counselor positions. Registration deadline is January 1, 2018.

“Organizers for the 19th AAC Youth Program, in cooperation with members of the OCA Department of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministries, will review all applications to ensure the necessary references and background checks are valid,” said David Lucs, who chairs the Department. “All volunteers will complete a three-stage review process before their final selection is confirmed, ensuring the safest and best Church-related experience for youth participants.

“The final phase of the application process will include an interview with organizers of the AAC Youth Program,” Mr. Lucs added. “Applicants who successfully pass these three stages will be notified in early 2018 of their selection as youth counselors.”

Youth Program counselors will have their meals, entrance and activity fees and registration covered by the OCA’s Department of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministries. Youth Program counselors will be expected to pay for their own travel and hotel expenses. Hotel reservations can be made after the first week of January 2018 on the hotel web site.

Additional information may be accessed on-line while questions and enquiries may be directed to Father Benjamin Tucci at aacyouth@oca.org.

Preconciliar Commission announces assessments for 19th All-American Council

The Preconciliar Commission, charged with the organization of the 19th All-American Council [AAC] in Saint Louis, MO July 23-27, 2018, recently released information concerning AAC assessments.

“The Preconciliar Commission has prepared a budget that includes $275,000.00 in assessments to the dioceses,” said Melanie Ringa, OCA Treasurer. “The decision was made that, instead of the OCA invoicing parishes directly, the dioceses will be invoiced for their respective portions of the $275,000.00 based on the percentage of their support to the 2017 Operating Budget, as calculated by the Finance Resolution adopted at the 18th AAC in 2015 Atlanta. As a point of reference, the total assessment for the 18th AAC was $265,188.00.”

Dioceses will have the option of absorbing the assessment or passing it along by invoicing their parishes.

“To this end, the dioceses are being provided with information on the assessments paid by their parishes for the 18th AAC,” added Ms. Ringa. “Invoices, letters and other information on the assessments are being mailed to the diocesan bishops and treasurers. Clergy should check with their diocesan treasurer with any questions as to how their diocese is handling the assessment for the 19th AAC.”

The Preconciliar Commission also announced that retired clergy and clergy widows will not be charged any fees. Military Chaplains, Stavropegial Institutions and Monasteries will be charged the $250.00 delegate fee, which includes admission to the AAC formal dinner, for each delegate in lieu of an assessment. Weekly Observers will also be charged $250.00, which likewise will include the formal dinner. There will be a daily observer fee of $75.00, with an additional $75.00 charge to attend the formal dinner.

Ms. Ringa added that “these fees have remained unchanged from the 18th AAC.”

Electronic registration for the 19th AAC and hotel registration will open during the first week of January 2018.

Follow the latest news concerning the 19th AAC on-line.

Priests of the St. Louis Area – Part 1 of 2

The St. Louis region was blessed to have had many priests that served the parishes of our region over the years and who provided inspiration, spiritual guidance and leadership to Orthodox Christians in our area. Here is Part I of a two part series of articles with brief descriptions of several of those priests.

RT. REVEREND JOHN TERTICHNY
St. Michael’s Orthodox Church, St. Louis, MO

Over the years, St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Church had been serviced by a number of clergy since it’s founding in 1909. However, one of the priests, Father John Tertichny, stands out in the life of St. Michael’s as the longest serving clergy from 1932 to 1974 – a span of 42 years.

Father John was born in 1891 in Piatigory, Russia and received his education from the School of Music and the Theological Seminary in Kiev, graduating in 1912. In 1913 he came to the United States and became an energetic Orthodox church leader, starting as choir director and teacher at St. Theodosius Cathedral in Cleveland where he met and married his wife, Mary Jemma, in 1915.

Ordained a deacon in 1915 and a priest the following year in Montreal, Father John was first assigned to Sydney, Nova Scotia to help organize a parish and build a church there. It was here in Sydney, Nova Scotia that their daughter Olga (Fedak), was born.

In 1918 he was sent to Herkimer, NY where he organized plans for construction of a new church building. Two years later, he went to Grand Rapids, MI to organize another parish and build a church school. It was here in Grand Rapids that their son, Boris, was born.

Father John was transferred to Benld, IL in 1927 where he served for 5 years before coming to St. Michael’s in St. Louis in 1932. He served as dean of the St. Louis Deanery, which covered much of the Missouri-Illinois area from 1931 until his retirement. A highlight of his priesthood was the awarding of the mitre in 1963 at the age of 72. At that time, he was only one of four mitred archpriests in the United States.

Father John kept the church going through some very difficult years – the Great Depression, and World War II – where very often there were only women and older men to keep the parish running. Once the war ended, improvements began on the church building itself – pews were installed, a gas furnace replaced the pot belly stove – new roof and an enclosed belfry were added along with a crystal chandelier from Greece (which is still in the church today) – that was made possible by a generous donor. The Ladies Sodality and Men’s Club were established and the Church school had its beginning in 1951 – reaching an enrollment of over 60 students by 1958.

During the late 60’s, Father John was instrumental in guiding St. Michael’s in using more English during the services. Up to this point services had all been in Church Slavonic, and also in moving the parish toward the New Calendar celebration of feasts. Although not everyone agreed with these “innovative” ways of thinking, Father John knew this was an important step in keeping the future generations in the church.

The early 70’s saw the start of an extensive Byzantine icon project. Dimitri Zonia, a local iconographer and former parishioner who attended St. Michael’s during his youth, was commissioned to do the icons. Many of the icons were completed and blessed by Archbishop John in 1972 and again, in 1973 by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Ireney

Father John retired in 1974 at the age of 83, and passed away on January 3, 1980 at the age of 88.

METROPOLITAN THEODOSIUS (LAZOR)
Nativity of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church, Madison, IL

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor) was born in Canonsburg, PA in 1933 to immigrant parents from Galicia, in what is today the southeastern corner of Poland. After completing undergraduate studies at Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, PA, he enrolled in Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, New York, from which he received a Master of Divinity degree in 1960. He spent the next year pursuing additional studies at the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, Switzerland, touring the Holy Land, and visiting Christian centers throughout Europe and the Middle East.

Upon returning to the US in 1961, he took monastic vows and was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood. From 1961 through 1966, he served as rector of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary Church, Madison, IL and as an assistant military chaplain at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

Upon Reverend Hieromonk Theodosius’ arrival in Madison, he realized quickly that the community of faithful Orthodox had outgrown the existing church. He was instrumental in accelerating the program to erect a new church. On September 23, 1962 a cross was planted at the site of the new church and ground breaking took place on June 21, 1964. On Sunday, March 14, 1965, just four years after Father Theodosius’ arrival to Madison, the first liturgy was served in the new church. With his faith and guidance, the faithful of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary Church had accomplished what was once just a dream.

While in Madison, Father Theodosius worked closely with the parish ladies group, who became the Society of the Myrrhbearing Women; the parish youth; and his fellow Orthodox clergy in the area, who worked to bring Orthodox of various ethnic backgrounds in the St. Louis region for pan-Orthodox services and activities. There are many found memories of working with Father Theodosius and how his enthusiasm and dedication to the Faith inspired parishioners and others who interacted with him.

In 1967, he was elected and consecrated to the episcopacy as Auxiliary to the Metropolitan and Bishop of Washington DC and as administrator of the Diocese of Alaska. On November 17, 1967, the Great Council of Bishops elected him as the diocesan Bishop of Sitka and Alaska.

In 1970, Bishop Theodosius traveled to Moscow to receive the Tomos, or proclamation, of Autocephaly from the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 1972, he was reassigned by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America to the Diocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. On October 25, 1977 he was elected Metropolitan of All America and Canada during the 5th All-American Council in Montreal, Quebec.

During his tenure as Bishop, Archbishop and Metropolitan, he made many visits back to his first parish in Madison, IL for many celebrations the parish hosted. There are still parishioners at the church that remember his priesthood in Madison and give thanks to God for his service to the parish and the Orthodox Church in America. Eis polla eti despota!

V. REVEREND VLADIMIR LECKO
Nativity of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church, Madison, IL

In the early years of his life, Father Vladimir Lecko was a trained professional in music and photography, detailed oriented and very dedicated to his creative arts of photography and music. Later, as a priest, he was no less committed to Christ and in the protection and salvation of his entrusted flock of parishioners. Walter or V. Reverend Vladimir was born in Terryville, CT on May 22, 1929 and served as a professional photographer, eventually becoming a partner in a photography studio. With the call of service to his country, he enlisted in the Air Force and served for nine years, using his music talents as a musician in the Air Force Band while serving in Texas, Illinois and Alaska. It was after the Air Force that Father Vladimir answered his true calling and enrolled at St. Tikhon’s Seminary.

Father Vladimir graduated from St. Tikhon’s Seminary in 1963 and served as full time choir director at St. John the Bapitst Church in Edwardsville, PA while attending Wilkes University, where he graduated in 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.

Father Lecko’s first assignment as a parish priest was the Nativity of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church in Madison, Illinois. Father served in Madison for almost ten years and had a profound impact on the parish faithful. Besides Father’s low key approach to solving problems, Father instilled hope and encouraged many young parishioners to grasp the opportunity before them, often by giving guidance and direction. He was very active with the youth, encouraging the Cossack Dancers and starting a Balalaika Orchestra that became the “toast of the town”, performing all over the bi-state area and even traveling to other parts of the United States for performances. Father was very involved with the Madison Junior “R” Club, with projects, sports and educational programs. Father was always available, working late into the night on projects with parishioners, whether it be planning a golf tournament or working with a troubled parishioner. The Church always came before everything else in his life.

During his years in Madison, Father Vladimir served as Dean of the St. Louis Deanery and was active in the International Folklore Federation and the Orthodox Clergy Association of St. Louis. Father also served as Spiritual Advisor for the Midwest District of the F.R.O.C. and was active with the Junior Department of the F.R.O.C. Sadly, for many at the Nativity of the Virgin Mary parish, Father was reassigned to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1979 where he served until 1996. At that time, Father semi-retired but continued serving St. Andrew’s Mission in Minocqua, Wisconsin until 2012 when it became a chapel where he still serves today.

Father Vladimir and Matushka Virginia have been married for 65 years and have one son, Peter, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Registration opens for 19th AAC vendors

In conjunction with the 19th All-American Council [AAC] of the Orthodox Church in America, slated to convene at the Saint Louis, MO Union Station Hotel July 23-27, 2018, an extensive exhibit hall will be available to vendors wishing to display and market their goods and services.

“The vendor/display areas will be centrally located, thereby offering a great opportunity for maximum exposure to Council participants,” said Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary. “The area will be opened for extended time periods to maximize contact with delegates and guests.”

Vendors will find an introductory letter, prospectus, contracts, and related information on the AAC web site.

The deadline for reserving vendor/display space is May 25, 2018. Space is limited, so early registration is highly encouraged. All fees must be sent to the 19th All-American Council, c/o Melanie Ringa, PO Box 675, Syosset, NY 11791. Final payment for booths is due by June 15, 2018.

For questions and/or additional information, please contact the Local Committee Exhibition Co-chairs, Ken Herman at kryanherman@gmail.com or Paul Reuschhoff at pdRueschhoff@sbcglobal.net.

History of the 9th All-American Council in St. Louis, MO

August 20 thru 25, 1989

St. Louis is known as the Gateway to the West, which was for many early travelers, an adventure to the future. In 1989, the Ninth All-American Council personified that motto. The Orthodox Church in America convened its tri-annual Council at the Adams Mark Hotel just across from the Gateway Arch in downtown St. Louis. It was the first Council to be held west of Ohio, in the “true” Midwest. The Ninth All-American Council saw a change in the Council’s format to almost exclusive plenary sessions and devoting sessions to particular areas of Church life. It saw new features of extensive youth programs and lunch forums on diverse topics.

The theme of the Ninth Council was “THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA: REFLECTING ON THE PAST, PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE.” In order to facilitate reflection on the past, a video called “An American Destiny,” outlining the history of Orthodoxy in America, was shown at one of the initial plenary sessions. Attempting to plan for the future was accomplished in the council’s various resolutions. The most important resolutions were perhaps those on mutual accountability and financial management. A resolution against the death penalty generated heated debate but was narrowly passed.

Additional new features of the Ninth Council included extensive youth activities and luncheon forums on diverse topics facilitated by the Department of Lay Ministries.

This council paid special tribute to Fr. Daniel Hubiak, retiring Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, who had served in the central administration for twenty-five years.

The Council itself was moved to August from July, so everyone could appreciate the warmth and humidity of St. Louis. Despite the heat, by all accounts the delegates and guests had a fruitful meeting and an enjoyable time in the Mound City. For those of you who were there in 1989, here are some fun facts and reminders of days of old: the President of the U.S. was a Bush and the most popular brew in St. Louis was a Busch. Gas prices averaged 97 cent/gallon and the Cold War was over. My how some things have changed!

The St. Louis Deanery, which was the local sponsor, was enthusiastic and excited to host the Council and put extra effort into showing everyone a great time. The Local Committee consisted of parishioners from all over the St. Louis Deanery which included the Nativity of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church in Madison, IL; St. Michael’s Orthodox Church in St. Louis, MO; Sts. Cyril and Methody Orthodox Church of Granite City, IL; St. Thomas Romanian Orthodox Church in St. Louis, MO; and St. Mary’s Orthodox Church in Desloge, MO. Back in 1989, the St. Louis Deanery consisted of the St. Louis Orthodox Churches, Holy Trinity and St. Theodore of Tarsus Orthodox Churches in Kansas City, and the Protection of the Virgin Mary in Royalton, IL. These parishes participated with long distance help in the souvenir book and mailings.


The Local Clergy Chairman was Fr. Joseph Fester, Rector of Nativity of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church in Desloge, MO. Bob Butchko, of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church in Madison, IL was the Local Lay Chairman. Father Tim Sawchak, then a college student, was responsible for all the Council Signage. Father John Platko, of blessed memory, was responsible for the Council Ad Book and brought the western part of the state of Missouri into the program with that assignment. Although the seat of the Dean has since moved from St. Louis to Kansas City, the spirit of the churches and their parishioners hasn’t changed. The motivation, commitment and dedication to providing a wonderful environment for deliberation and congregating for the glory of God was their motivation in 1989 and that spirit continues today for this upcoming 19th All American Council. Hope to see some old friends and make new friends.

19th AAC resolutions, Statute amendments, now being accepted

The Resolutions Committee of the 19th All-American Council [AAC] of the Orthodox Church in America is now accepting proposed resolutions for consideration by AAC delegates.

“Parishes and other Church bodies — deaneries, dioceses, stavropegial institutions — are asked to submit proposed resolutions and amendments for consideration well before the AAC convenes in St. Louis, MO on July 23-27, 2018,” said Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary. “All information relating to resolutions and statute amendments is posted on the web site of the 19th All-American Council.”

Proposed resolutions should be sent via e-mail to resolutions.19aac@oca.org or by mail to the Resolutions Committee, 19th All-American Council, c/o the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America, PO Box 675, Syosset, NY 11791. The deadline for submitting proposed resolutions is April 25, 2018.

“After review by the Resolutions Committee, proposals will be published and posted by May 24, 2018 — 60 days before the AAC, as required by Article III, Section 5 of the current Statute of the Orthodox Church in America,” Father Eric added. “Resolutions also may be proposed during the course of the AAC itself.”

The Resolutions Committee will review all submitted proposals and, if necessary, will discuss possible editorial changes with the submitting body. Should substantially identical resolutions be submitted, the Committee will consolidate them into a single resolution, again after consultation with the submitting bodies. If, in the estimation of the Committee, a proposed resolution clearly lies outside the AAC’s competence, whether on canonical grounds or due to conflict with the OCA Statute, the Committee will inform the submitting body accordingly. In case of doubt, a proposed resolution will be submitted to the Holy Synod to determine whether it can be brought before the AAC. Should a proposed resolution be determined to lie outside the competence of the AAC, the Committee, in consultation with the Holy Synod and the proposing body, will consider alternative ways of bringing issues underlying the proposed resolution to the attention of the Council’s delegates.

“After review of submissions, the Resolutions Committee will turn over proposed resolutions to the Preconciliar Commission for inclusion on the All-American Council agenda,” Father Eric explained. “Deliberation on proposed resolutions will take place in plenary sessions throughout the course of the Council.”

Resolutions from parishes normally shall bear the signatures of the parish priest and the president of the parish council; those submitted by deaneries shall bear the signatures of the dean and other priests of the deanery. Resolutions from dioceses shall bear the signatures of the bishop and the diocesan chancellor, while those submitted by stavropegial institutions should bear the signatures of the abbot, dean or rector and at least one other member of the institution in question. Resolutions will be sent to the respective diocesan hierarch, who will sign and forward them to the Resolutions Committee.

In line with the OCA Statute, Article XVII, amendments to the OCA Statute may be submitted to the Commission on Statutes and Canons prior to the 19th All-American Council.

“An amendment may be proposed by the Holy Synod, the Metropolitan Council, diocesan assemblies, diocesan councils, deaneries, parish assemblies, parish councils, monasteries, and seminaries,” Father Eric noted. “A proposed amendment must be submitted to the Commission on Statutes and Canons at least 90 days prior to the date set for the convening of an All-American Council. All proposed amendments must be received by the Commission by April 25, 2018 and will be published by May 24, 2018 — 60 days before the Council, per Statute Article XVII, Section 3.

“The Commission on Statutes and Canons shall consider proposed amendments and may either approve, consolidate, or return proposed amendments,” Father Eric concluded. “An amendment of the Statute requires a two-thirds majority of the delegates of an All-American Council present and voting and becomes effective immediately upon the final adjournment of the AAC unless otherwise noted.”

The relevant Statute submissions should be sent via email to statute.19aac@oca.org or by mail to the Statute Commission, 19th All-American Council, c/o Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America, PO Box 675, Syosset, NY 11791.

Members of the Resolution Committee include His Grace, Bishop Paul of Chicago and the Midwest, Chair of the 19th AAC Preconciliar Commission; Archpriest Dimitri Cozby; Michael Strelka; and Judge E. R. Lanier, OCA General Counsel. Members of the Commission on Statutes and Canons include His Grace, Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa, Chair; Archpriest Ioan Cozma; Archpriest John Erickson; Archpriest Alexander Rentel; and Judge E. R. Lanier.

A Brief History of Sts. Cyril and Methody Eastern Orthodox Church

The beginning of the church as a parish originated late in 1978 and early 1979 with a contingent of Macedonian-Bulgarian Orthodox worshippers. They turned to His Grace Bishop KYRILL, who on May 15, 1979, as Bishop of the Bulgarian Diocese of Toledo, Ohio, accepted the parish under the spiritual guidance of the Toledo Diocese of the Orthodox Church in America.

This church has the same name as the first Macedonian-Bulgarian Orthodox Church built in Granite City which was also the first Macedonian-Bulgarian Orthodox Church built in the United States. The present church was started and built by the offspring of many of the organizers of the original Sts. Cyril and Methody Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

The present day Sts. Cyril and Methody Eastern Orthodox Church situated at 4770 Maryville Road in Granite City, Illinois, held its official groundbreaking at this site on October 5, 1980. The day was shared by parishioners and friends and Mr. Philip Morrison, who donated four acres of his farmland for the purpose of erecting a church,

Both before the groundbreaking and afterwards, Father Kiril Antonoff was with us serving as adviser and conducting liturgical services as often as possible.

Father Kyril, who served the Madison and Granite City community for many years as rector and supply priest to the Orthodox parishes in the area and especially to Sts. Cyril and Methody and the Nativity of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Churches. Father Kyril, of Blessed Memory, departed from this life in 2013 will always be remembered for his service to the Church and his kindness and unending love to this parish.

Services during this early time were celebrated in an office at the Levee Board Building whenever priests were available. During April 1979, Father Joseph Miller conducted a full cycle of services for Holy Week and Pascha. On May 6, 1979, Father Daniel Gurovich celebrated the Divine Liturgy. He became the first parish priest and served through November 1980 in the second home which was in the Trattler Building. The third home was the Granite City Army Depot Chapel where the liturgy was conducted each Sunday by Father Michael Margitich, the Orthodox Chaplain attached to Scott Air Base in Belleville, Illinois.

On Palm Sunday 1981, the first Divine Liturgy was conducted by Father Margitich in the yet to be completed interior of Sts. Cyril and Methody Eastern Orthodox Church.

There were many first events in the new church. The first wedding ceremony was celebrated by Bishop KYRILL on June 21, 1981. The first priest of the new church building was Father Steven Kostoff, assigned to the parish from July 1981 to September 1985. Father George Hretz served as priest from October 1985 to August 1986. From September 1986 to August 1987, parishioners conducted Reader Services one Sunday while the Divine Liturgy was conducted by a visiting priest on the alternate Sunday. Visiting priests included Father Bogdan Djurdjilov from Chicago and Father Thomas Succarotte from the Nativity of the Virgin Mary Eastern Orthodox Church in Madison, Illinois. Father Andrew Moulton became the church priest in August 1987 and continues as spiritual leader of the church.

The church has grown during these years in many ways. The Sisterhood, which has many activities to raise funds for the Church such as making baked goods for sale to parishioners and at local festivals and sponsors a retreat during Lent.

Church parishioners also serve as Epitropes which includes taking care of candles and counting all church monies at every church service, serving as ushers, and greeting people as they enter the church.

The Church School encompasses several different age groups: pre-school, elementary, junior high, high school, and adult study. These groups meet prior to Sunday Morning Liturgy Services.

Prayer Group meets the last Saturday of the month after Vespers. The monthly meeting includes a review of those prayed for good health, anniversaries, birthdays, passages and a study of religious books.

Bible Study for parishioners and the public follows Vespers on Wednesday evenings.

The Youth Group includes junior high, senior high, and university students. The group participates in community ministry and service to spread the Orthodox Faith throughout the community. Examples of activities are a baby shower benefit for the Phoenix Crisis Center, a women and children shelter house, a letter writing campaign for troops overseas, a yearly ice cream social to benefit the OCA Christmas Stocking Project, and a yearly Adopt-a-School project which donates school supplies throughout the year and a Giving Tree Gift Campaign at Christmas. Members also prepared breakfast and served it to residents of the McDonald House in St. Louis. A fundraiser includes selling desserts at the yearly Church Homecoming and Picnic. Another yearly event is the Sunday Night Christmas Movie night with snacks.

Guided always by the Holy Spirit, the devoted parishioners of Sts. Cyril and Methody parish have generously given of their time, talent, and resources to make possible the building of our Temple and all that we have accomplished during these past thirty-eight years. We humbly pray that, by the grace of God, we and those who come after us will continue to build on the good foundation which has been laid.

Department Highlights: Youth Department meets, reviews plans for 19th AAC

Bishop David with members of OCA Department of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministry.

To meet the changing needs of youth and young adults across North America, His Grace, Bishop David of Sitka and Alaska hosted a series of discussions with members of the Orthodox Church in America’s Department of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministries [YYACM] at Saint Mary’s Cathedral here on Saturday, July 22, 2017.

Under the guidance of Bishop David, who serves as the department’s liaison for the Holy Synod of Bishops, participants in the gathering reviewed plans for a revitalized youth-oriented presence on the internet, collaboration with the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America [FOCA], and initial objectives and plans for the youth program at the 19th All-American Council [AAC].

“Our meetings were very thorough, and I thank God that we had the opportunity to meet,” Bishop David said. “There was a common focus and commitment by those in attendance to inspire and reach young people of all ages living as faithful Orthodox Christians in today’s world.”

A key component of the department’s efforts is planning for the five-day youth program that will take place in St. Louis, MO during the 19th All-American Council, slated to be held July 23-27, 2018.

“Like the Council at large, our youth and teen program will focus on the AAC theme, ‘For the Life of the World,’” said Priest Benjamin Tucci, 19th AAC youth program coordinator. “We will explore the sacramental life of the church and how our children can find the sacred in an often challenging secular society.” More information about the AAC youth program is available on-line.

Other topics discussed during the meeting included a review of initial plans to re-launch a dynamic and engaging web presence for Orthodox Christian youth and young adults. Leveraging cutting edge trends in web development and social media resources, new department members will work with existing department members and youth to develop a web presence that will meet young people where they are, encouraging them to be active Orthodox Christians on-line, in person with their friends and in the life of the Church.

Bishop David and members of the department also discussed ways for a renewed partnership with the FOCA.

“The members of FOCA have long supported the OCA’s efforts to have a vibrant youth program,” said David Lucs, recently appointed department Chair. “We value their participation in events for youth and young adults, and look forward to meeting with FOCA leaders soon to discuss concrete ways we can work together.”

Department members will also begin reviewing the wealth of existing resources and content developed by the YYACM Department over the last three decades. His Grace noted much of the content will be made available through the new website. “Our prayer is that God will bless our efforts as He has blessed our predecessors who dedicated their time and efforts to nurture the youth of our church.”

Two OCA young adults participated in June’s Syndesmos International Youth Conference in Samos, Greece.

In related news, two OCA young adults — Victor Lutes from the Archdiocese of Washington, DC and Anastasia Serdsev from the Diocese of New York and New Jersey — were among some 40 participants from around the world at this year’s Syndesmos International Orthodox Conference in Samos, Greece during the last week of June.

“We discussed scripture texts and the historic teachings of the faith and we also explored current issues, including ministering to the needs of migrants and refugees,” said Victor. “The mayor of Samos spoke to us about the ongoing refugee crisis and the work of International Orthodox Christian Charities [IOCC] in supporting the efforts of local volunteers providing care and resources to those in need.”

Among the conference’s speakers was His Eminence, Metropolitan Eusebios of Samos and Ikeria, who shared the history of the Church in Samos and stories from his life. He also presided at the celebration of the feast of Saints Peter and Paul at the church dedicated to their memory in the town of Ireon.

“It was a wonderful experience to meet Orthodox people from all over the world on the beautiful island of Samos,” Anastasia said. “We shared presentations on our home countries, listened to thought-provoking lectures that often led to independent discussions afterwards, and participated in services, reading and chanting in many languages including English, Greek, Slavonic, French, Arabic, Romanian, and Swahili.”

Faithful interested in obtaining more information on the department’s current and future ministries are invited to contact David Lucs at yyacm@oca.org.”

19th All-American Council web site goes “live”

A special site featuring a wealth of information and resources related to the forthcoming 19th All-American Council [AAC] of the Orthodox Church in America went “live” on the OCA web site on Friday, July 14, 2017.

The AAC theme — “For the Life of the World” — is derived from Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann’s classic work of the same name.

“The web site will be of tremendous assistance in preparing the faithful, and especially AAC delegates and observers, for the gathering, which will convene in Saint Louis, MO July 23-27, 2018,” said Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary. “A new AAC Facebook page also has been launched.”

On-line registration for both the AAC and hotel will be available January 1, 2018 through a dedicated and secure section of the site.

“All AAC related resources — agenda, handbook, instructions and registration — will be available on the site, enabling participants to download and print out copies to bring with them to the Council,” Father Eric explained. “Beginning January 1, the site will feature a dedicated section for submitting resolutions and Statute revisions for consideration by AAC delegates.”

Other AAC site highlights will include

  • an introductory video by His Grace, Bishop Paul of Chicago and the Midwest, who chairs the Preconciliar Commission.
  • articles on the history of the Orthodox Church in the Saint Louis area and the Kansas City Deanery of the Diocese of the Midwest.
  • a section dedicated to the AAC youth program, which will be available shortly. Youth program volunteers may register through the site. Beginning January 1, youth delegate registration also will be available on-line. A separate posting on the AAC youth program, which will be directed by Priest Benjamin Tucci, will provide details on the youth program agenda, expectations, and costs and offer suggestions on how youth can raise funds to participate in the AAC.
  • a series of frequently asked questions about the AAC in general and the 19th AAC in particular, slated to be released in the fall.

“In the months ahead, the OCA web site will announce the latest updates, resources and information as they appear on the AAC site,” Father Eric added. “In the meantime, we hope that all of the Church’s faithful take advantage of the AAC site for the latest information with regard to the 19th AAC in a Church-wide effort to expand the work of the Church ‘for the life of the world’ and its salvation.”