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Every year, new seminarians look in amazement on the pile of gifts bought and delivered for them and their children. Upperclassmen, who already know of the incredible generosity and love poured out on seminarians, are equally humbled by the continued concern shown, especially for the children here at the seminary. The Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America (FOCA), along with other individuals and parishes across the country, are especially generous in the Christmas season. This past Christmas is no different.
Attending seminary at St. Tikhon’s is usually a “financially humbling” experience. When it was founded, the monastery was intentionally built in a relatively isolated location, meaning that the seminary is, still today, rather removed from most jobs, and that is on top of the difficulty of a seminarian or a spouse holding a job on top of tending to school and family needs. Life was simpler when most seminarians were young, single men, but now the majority are couples and families, meaning, it is that much harder to leave everything and come to seminary.
There are many generous gifts given to the seminary, gifts that help those families make it through seminary financially. These Christmas gifts given by FOCA and others, are a different kind of gift. With these gifts, seminarians and their families receive encouragement and emotional support; they receive love.
After collecting Christmas lists for the children, and many dozens of people spending their time to go out and shop, then the gifts were wrapped and personally delivered to the seminary. Normally, we have a big celebration on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day, but this year with a large number of the seminarians traveling with the seminary choir that same weekend, we moved the celebration to December 12th. It was a wonderful opportunity for seminarians and their families to come together, enjoy food together, get a Christmas stocking full of goodies from the seminary community, and to go home with more gifts than they ever could have imagined. The smiles on so many children’s faces are the thanks that we have to give to all of you who gave your time, effort, and love to us.
A hearty, smiley-faced, thank you to FOCA and all the churches and individuals who help make Christmas such a wonderful time for our children.
By Priest Ignatius Strange