On Thursday February 17th, 2022, we were blessed to welcome His Eminence, Metropolitan Gregory of Nyssa for his first visit to St. Tikhon’s Seminary and Monastery! His Eminence is the Ruling Bishop of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA, and serves as the Secretary of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA. His Eminence was accompanied on his visit by Protopresbyter James Dutko, Rector of St. Michael’s Orthodox Church in Binghamton, NY, who was a seminary classmate of our Seminary Rector, Archbishop Michael. Dr. Paul Witek and Fr. Ignatius Gauvain received Metropolitan Gregory and Fr. James at the Seminary, where they discussed the history of the Seminary and its current programs, the demographics of the student body, and other matters of mutual interest, including the current state of American Orthodoxy, both in the local area and nationally. His Eminence and Fr. James then enjoyed a tour of the Seminary campus and the Monastery grounds, culminating in a visit to the Monastery Church. While praying in the Church, His Eminence, who had twice served as a missionary to Alaska, was delighted to venerate the relics of St. Herman, as well as those of St. Gregory Palamas, his patron saint, and the relics of St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre, a Saint greatly honored by the Carpatho-Russian people.
His Eminence then gave an inspiring lunchtime talk to the Seminarians, encouraging us to apply our full energy and effort to both our studies and our future ministries, no matter what stage of our formation we are in. Speaking of his own journey to the Priesthood as a late vocation, His Eminence reminded us that no matter how or when our lives brought us here, or whether or not our plans after Seminary include Ordination, we have all been called by the Lord to serve the Church, and we should do so with vigor and love, always praying each Liturgy as if it is our last! Reminiscing on his own time at Seminary, His Eminence encouraged us to continue to strengthen our bonds with our classmates, and to maintain these relationships after graduation, using each other as a resource, a sounding board, and a support system in the difficult times of our ministry. Following lunch, His Eminence and Fr. James visited the Monastery bookstore, where they were greeted by our Abbot, Archimandrite Sergius, and presented with gifts to commemorate His Eminence’s first visit to St. Tikhon’s. All of us at St. Tikhon’s echo Fr. Sergius’s hope that His Eminence will come to visit us again soon, and pray that his travels and his continuing ministry may be blessed! Eis Polla Eti Despota!
-Rdr. Timothy Paproski, STOTS Class of 2024