Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord:
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. (Matthew 28:19)
In my forty years of ministry, I have had the pleasure of knowing many of the theologians, professors, and teachers who have faithfully shared their knowledge, their lives, and their experience with thousands of men who have served the Church as deacons, priests, and bishops as well as with the many men and women who have chosen to serve the Church as laypersons. Today, as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, I have the distinct honor of serving as President of our Church’s three seminaries, a position which has enabled me to witness a new generation of professors and instructors dedicating their lives to the formation of our clergy.
In May, during the commencement exercises at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Crestwood, New York, and Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, South Canaan, Pennsylvania, I was deeply moved to witness a record number of graduates receive their degrees and diplomas. Saint Herman’s Seminary, Kodiak, Alaska, also continues to increase the number of students graduating each year. What a blessing it is to know the young men and women who have accepted the call to serve in the vineyard of the Lord and who will guide the Church well into the 21st century.
Serving our parish communities requires that our clergy and lay Church workers possess a high degree of dedication and conviction, firmly rooted in Scripture, Holy Tradition, and the writings of the Holy Fathers, and a common vision for the ongoing growth of the Church in North America. The vision and example of Saint Herman of Alaska and the first missionaries who planted the Church on this continent clearly is alive and well in the spirit of our seminarians and recent graduates.
This vision, however, must not be limited to our seminarians and graduates. While our seminarians actively pursue a program of theological study and spiritual and pastoral formation, every member of the Church is responsible for praying for vocations, supporting those who are preparing for ministry, and enabling our seminaries to continue their good work for the glory of God and the building up of His Church. With new missions and communities being established each year across North America, the need for more individuals willing to take up the Cross is crucial now and in the years and decades to come.
Providing the best possible theological education and spiritual formation is a high priority for the Orthodox Church in America, especially since most seminarians literally must struggle to support themselves and their studies. This is especially burdensome for our many married students. But through your generous response to the Orthodox Church in America’s annual Seminary Appeal, our seminaries continue to offer an exceptional program of education and formation which, in turn, will benefit the Church on all levels in the years to come.
I warmly invite you to join me in offering financial relief and assistance to those who have made so many sacrifices to accept the call to serve Christ and His People as future choir directors, teachers, professors, deacons, priests, and hierarchs.
Invoking God’s blessing upon you and assuring you of my prayers, I remain
With love in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada