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St. Tikhon’s Seminary hosted another successful continuing education symposium, on June 19-21.  Six sessions in all were held, in addition to opportunities for prayer and fellowship.

The program began with a presentation by Archimandrite Sergius, Abbot of St. Tikhon’s Monastery.  His presentation focused on the prayer of the heart.  He referenced a number of patristic fathers and elders to reinforce a number of points that included dialogue versus monologue in the heart, prayers as actualization of personhood, and prayer as converse and union with God. 

On Tuesday evening, Melissa Wertman, Assistant Director of the Wayne County (PA) Drug and Alcohol Commission, presented on dynamics of addiction, as well as addressing specifics of addictions including the opioid epidemic.  She offered resources available in Wayne County that clergy could look to utilize in their respective communities.

On Wednesday, Dr. Paul Witek, Registrar and Director of Academic Affairs, introduced his wife, Donna Witek, who is Associate Professor and Information Literacy Coordinator for University of Scranton’s Weinberg Memorial Library.  Her presentation offered a very helpful, and relatively unbiased developmental approach to assessing where one spends time and energy on the web.   Her examples included several examples relative to our Orthodox Church’s “current events”. 

Later in the day on Wednesday, Dr. Albert Rossi, retired Associate Professor of Psychology from Pace University, who has also taught courses in pastoral theology at St. Vladimir’s Seminary over many years, presented on the realities of internet addiction.  Using lecture, video and other resources, he shared helpful insights and resources for clergy in assisting their faithful.  He also shared insights from his ongoing work with clergy and faithful to punctuate points related to internet addiction, as well as addition in general.

On Thursday morning, Archpriest Steven Voytovich, Seminary Dean and Department Chair of Pastoral Arts and Praxis, reflected on numerous traumatic incidents he has been involved in, to share lessons learned relative to parish community involvement, and how clergy and their parish communities can offer support in the wake of traumas.  He also shared resources in how clergy can get training in crisis response to prepare them to offer meaningful support when called upon.

Thursday afternoon’s session offered an opportunity for open discussion on topics raised earlier in the week, and others of concern to participants.  To start off the afternoon, Fr. Matthew Fuhrman, a recent STS graduate and military chaplain candidate, shared how clergy could most effectively minister to military veterans returning from active duty.   Fr. James Chuta, Spiritual Advisor for the OCF at Bucknell University, talked about supporting OCF ministry, including resources for pastors to connect parish graduates with colleges having active OCF’s.  Later on Archbishop Michael, Seminary Rector and Chair of the Scripture Department, responded to questions clergy posed relative to recent events in world Orthodoxy.

Participants were offered an opportunity to commented on the value of this continuing education program.  Thanks be to God for a meaningful week of pastoral engagement!