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On March 8-11, St. Tikhon’s Seminarians Subdeacon Peter Simko (‘21) and Isaac Lampart (‘19) gathered together with an endearing group of students and seminarians from Hellenic College-Holy Cross and St. Vladimir’s Seminary for the Spring 2019 Conference of the Orthodox Inter-Seminary Movement (OISM), hosted this semester by St. Vladimir’s.

Founded in the 1960s and revived in 2003, the OISM fosters fellowship and cooperation among Orthodox seminary and theology students. St. Vladimir’s seminarians chose to frame this Spring’s weekend around “Orthodox Unity.”

On Friday evening, the seminarians gathered together for informal fellowship and conversation in the SVOTS refectory. Many seminarians present also attended last semester’s OISM weekend at Hellenic College Holy Cross, and were happily introduced to new faces and first-comers to an OISM event.

On Saturday, Archpriest Edward Hughes, the Vicar General of the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate, spoke and led discussions at the conference regarding the Western Rite and Orthodox unity. SVOTS Professor Dr. John Barnet also delivered a lecture on Christian unity in the New Testament. In the evening, STOTS and HCHC seminarians participated in the mixed and male choirs during vigil (it was neat to see familiar names like Hieromonk Herman written on the scores at St. Vladimir’s). The conference concluded with Sunday’s Divine Liturgy at Three Hierarchs Chapel.

New leadership was also elected during this weekend’s gathering, in accordance with the OISM Constitution. Paul Murray (Holy Cross ‘21) is the National President, Catherine Holder (Hellenic College ‘21) is the National Secretary, and Subdeacon Peter Simko (STOTS ‘21) is the National Treasurer and STOTS Representative.

While OISM tends to meet every year at one of North America’s Orthodox theological seminaries, seminarians are hopeful to organize a retreat every semester to encourage long-lasting friendships and foster support in pan-Orthodox ministry.

“During my three years at STOTS, through OISM, I was given the opportunity to make connections with seminarians at Holy Trinity, HCHC, St. Vladimir’s, and Christ the Saviour in Johnstown, which I know will remain with me wherever the Church’s ministry brings me,” Isaac commented. “I feel I can relate in a little way to all the seminaries, and coming to know their students personally through OISM events, I can begin to understand what ministry might look like for each one of us, given our unique formational journeys and predispositions, that we might best relate and serve the Church together across all jurisdictions.”  

Tentatively, the Fall 2019-2020 OISM Weekend will be hosted by St. Tikhon’s Seminary, which Subdeacon Peter will help organize.

“Our hope with the upcoming Saint Tikhon’s OISM retreat will be to convey the necessity of beauty in the Church and her ministries when facing a world whose, to be frank, ugliness is ever more apparent as the Lord is gradually forgotten by the wider culture,” Subdeacon Peter related. “Beauty is a sure foothold for Truth,” he continued, “so our retreat will portray how Orthodox Christianity makes Christ, Who is Truth Incarnate, present through the ministries of liturgical arts and beyond in a way that can be inspirational to all OISM participants, no matter what God is calling them to do.”

Article by Seminarian Isaac Lampart (‘19)

Photographs by St. Vladimir’s Seminarian Mitchell Morfas (‘21)