Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary [STOTS] hosted its annual Clergy Continuing Education Program on June 19-21.
The program began with a presentation by Archimandrite Sergius, Abbot of Saint Tikhon’s Monastery, who 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 prayer, prayer as actualization of personhood, and prayer as union with God.
Melissa Wertman, Assistant Director of the Wayne County [PA] Drug and Alcohol Commission, offered a presentation on the dynamics and specifics of addictions, including the opioid epidemic. She offered resources available in Wayne County that clergy could utilize in their respective communities.
Dr. Paul Witek, STOTS Registrar and Director of Academic Affairs, introduced his wife, Donna Witek, Associate Professor and Information Literacy Coordinator for University of Scranton’s Weinberg Memorial Library, who offered a very helpful and relatively unbiased developmental approach to assessing where one spends time and energy on the web. She included several examples relative to our Orthodox Church’s “current events.”
Dr. Albert Rossi, retired Pace University Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, spoke on the realities of internet addiction. Using lecture, video and other resources, he shared helpful insights and resources for clergy in assisting the faithful, sharing insights into his ongoing work with clergy and faithful to punctuate points related to internet addiction, as well as addition in general.
Archpriest Steven Voytovich, STOTS Dean and Department Chair of Pastoral Arts and Praxis, reflected on numerous traumatic incidents he had encountered in his ministry, especially those related to parish community involvement, and how clergy and their parishes can offer support in the wake of such traumas. He also shared resources in how clergy can pursue 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 other concerns raised by participants. Priest Matthew Fuhrman, a recent STOTS graduate and military chaplain, shared ways clergy can effectively minister to military veterans returning from active duty. Priest James Chuta, Spiritual Advisor for the OCF at Bucknell University, spoke about supporting the ministry of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship [OCF] and offered resources for pastors to connect parish graduates with colleges with active OCF chapters. Finally, His Eminence, Archbishop Michael, STOTS Rector and Chair of the Scripture Department, responded to questions posed by participants related to recent events in world Orthodoxy.