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[STOTS Communications, Dalton, PA]  His Grace, Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, Metropolitan of the Northeast American Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, welcomed His Holiness, Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan, representatives from the Orthodox and Catholic Church communities, and many clergy and faithful from the Northeast American Diocese in the inauguration of their new Holy Transfiguration Retreat Center, in Dalton, PA.

His Holiness led those gathered in prayer in blessing the new retreat center, purchased from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton.  Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, Diocesan Bishop, was present.  Comments by the hierarchs present shared the story of how the facility was transferred to the Malankara Church.

Archpriest Steven Voytovich, St. Tikhon’s Seminary Dean, was present for the blessing.  He had previously accompanied His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon in visiting the Indian State of Kerala with our Metropolitan Tikhon and Archpriest John Behr in November, 2015 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Kottayam Seminary.  His Eminence, Archbishop Michael, Seminary Rector, traveled to Kerala in February of this year.   

Fr. Steven shared greetings from the Seminary Rector, the Board of Trustees, and the St. Tikhon’s Seminary community.  He presented an icon to His Holiness, and in doing so offered a brief prayer:  “May God richly bless the ministry to be carried out through the Holy Transfiguration Retreat Center.  Just as Jesus’ disciples were profoundly moved in witnessing the light of Christ on Mount Tabor, may those coming to this place in retreat be transformed by Jesus’ light and love, receiving healing and restoration.”

Dr. Christopher (STOTS Faculty) and Anna Veniamin were also present for the inauguration.  Archpriest Chad Hatfield, President of St. Vladimir’s Seminary was also present.  He shared a copy of a new book on marriage by Fr. George Koshy, newly published.  All were invited for some refreshments and fellowship upon the completion of the blessing service.