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Midwest:  Frs. John Mason and Vladimir Lecko awarded Midwest Diocese’s Order of Saint John of Chicago

Fr. John Mason with Bishop Paul and concelebrants.

Two retired priests of the Diocese of the Midwest were awarded the Order of Saint John of Chicago in early December 2018.

On December 6, the Feast of Saint Nicholas of Myra, His Grace, Bishop Paul awarded the Order to Archpriest John Mason at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy at Saint Nicholas Church, Mogadore, OH, where he served as rector for 27 years.  Father John was the first priest to receive the diocesan award since its inception in the fall of 2018.

Sixteen priests, including Father John’s brother, Archpriest James Mason, concelebrated with Bishop Paul and Archpriest Nicholas Wyslutsky, rector.

Bishop Paul presented the Order’s pectoral cross to Father John, in addition to a gramota recognizing “his 67 years of priestly service to the Orthodox Church in America, the Diocese of the Midwest, and Saint Nicholas Parish.”  Father John had also served parishes in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New York.  For many years, he was National Spiritual Adviser for the Federated Russian Orthodox Clubs/Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America and an original member of the Orthodox Church in America’s Pension Board.

Fr. Vladimir Lecko with Fr. Andrew Morbey and Bishop Paul.

On the following Sunday, December 9, Bishop Paul celebrated Matins and the Divine Liturgy at Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Minneapolis, MN, after which he awarded the Order of Saint John of Chicago to Archpriest Vladimir Lecko, the parish’s retired long-time dean and associate pastor.

Concelebrating with Bishop Paul were Archpriest Andrew Morbey, cathedral dean; Archpriests Myron Manzuk, Gregory Krutchek and John Schroedel; Priests William Neumann, Richard Flom, and Benjamin Tucci; and Deacons Gregory Krutchek, Jr. and Michael Tarris.

In addition to the Order’s pectoral cross, Father Vladimir was presented with a gramota “in recognition of his decades of faithful service to the Orthodox Church as a Choir Director, Priest, Father Confessor, Dean and Educator – a ministry distinguished above all by a pastoral wisdom and compassion recognized by all as carrying the fragrance of the Holy Spirit.”  Prior to his assignment to Saint Mary’s Cathedral in the late 1970s, Father Vladimir served the Nativity of the Virgin Mary Church, Madison, IL for two decades.  A gallery of photos is available online.

Ansonia, CT:  STOTS Mission Choir raises $19K at Christmas Concert


On Sunday, December 9, 2018, the Mission Choir of Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary [STOTS] presented a concert of hymns and carols for the Nativity season in front of an enthusiastic audience at Three Saints Church, Ansonia, CT.  Earlier in the day, the choir sang the responses to the Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Church, New Britain, CT, where Archpriest David Koles is rector.

At the conclusion of the concert, Priest Patrick Burns, rector of Three Saints Church and President of the Saint Tikhon’s Alumni Association, presented donations to the seminary, totaling nearly $19,000.00, to STOTS Music Director Benedict Sheehan and Development Director Archpriest David Fox.  In his words of thanks to concert-goers, Father David explained that supporters of the seminary are helping to “build a future for the Church in America.”  Father Patrick added that the first time he visited Three Saints Church — the parish of which he is now rector — he was as a member of the STOTS Mission Choir, and that supporting the seminary today may literally mean supporting one’s own future parish priest.

Saint Tikhon’s Seminary wishes to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to all who helped make this concert and fundraising campaign such a success.

Yonkers, NY:  Diocese of New York and New Jersey holds first annual “Bible Bowl”


On Saturday, November 3, 2018, nearly 50 youth and adults from across the Diocese of New York and New Jersey joined His Eminence, Archbishop Michael at Holy Trinity Church, Yonkers NY for the first annual Diocesan “Bible Bowl.”  The event combined competition, camaraderie, and the culmination of months of diligent study of the Scriptures.  Eleven teams from six parishes competed in three divisions (Junior Youth, Senior Youth, Adult) and responded to challenging questions from the Gospel of Saint Mark.

Volunteers from Holy Trinity Church; the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Church, Clifton NJ; and Saints Peter and Paul Church, South River NJ, distributed custom-made Bible Bowl t-shirts, prepared and served refreshments, and worked as scorekeepers for the competition.  Musical entertainment was provided by Archpriest David Cowan, Holy Trinity rector, and a band made up of faithful from Lansing, NY and Paramus, NJ as the anxious contestants waited for the scores to be tallied.

“Although it is important to study English and math, science and history, the most important subject we can study is the Scriptures—the written record of the experience of the people of God,” Archbishop Michael said in offering encouragement to the contestants.  “Reading the Scriptures every day, we become transformed by the Holy Spirit.  We become more and more like Jesus Christ, and we grow in theosis – the process of knowing and loving the God Who loves us more than we love ourselves!”

A list of Bible Bowl winners may be found on the Diocese of New York and New Jersey website.

Somerset, NJ:  OCAMPR conference presentations now available on Ancient Faith Radio


A record 156 participants attended the annual conference sponsored by the Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology, and Religion [OCAMPR] at the Ukrainian Cultural Center, Somerset, NJ November 8-10, 2018.  The theme of this year’s conference was “Compliance and Resistance: Discerning the Spirit,” which was explored by the keynote speaker, three plenary speakers, 20 works and 12 paper presentations, all of which were recorded by Ancient Faith Radio and are now available for free access and download.

OCAMPR’s 2019 conference, “Isolation. Violence. Hope and Commmunion,” will be held in Chicago November 7-9, 2019.

In related news, proceedings from OCAMPR’s 2016 and 2017 conferences have been published in a book, Pain, Suffering, and Resilience, now available from Sebastian Press.