Reader John Joseph Tome, Choir Master at Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church, Burton, MI (Bulgarian Diocese) for over thirty-six years was awarded the Order of Saint Romanos on Sunday, June 11, 2023. His Eminence Archbishop Alexader of the Bulgarian Diocese presented the award at the conclusion of the pontifical Divine Liturgy which he celebrated with Archpriest Matthew-Peter Butrie, rector, and Archpriest Robert Royer, attached clergy, and Protodeacon Luke Gonser, attached clergy.
Established by the Holy Synod of Bishops in 2014 under the patronage of Saint Romanos the Melodist, the Order is awarded to influential arrangers, composers, teachers, and conductors. Past recipients include Archimandrite Roman [Braga], Archpriest Sergei Glagolev, Archpriest Igor Soroka, Prof. Dr. David Drillock, Dr. Vladimir Morosan, Archpriest Martin Nicolai, Aleksei V. Shipovalnikov, Walter Shymansky, John Sutko and Carol Wetmore.
“It is a joy that Archbishop Alexander was able to present this award to Reader John Joseph who has worked tirelessly in arranging music and setting musical settings for use not only at Saint Nicholas Church but throughout the Bulgarian Diocese,” said Father Matthew.
Reader John Joseph Tome graduated from Albion College, Albion, MI in 1974 with a B.A. in voice and piano. He was tonsured a reader in 1974 at Saint Andrew Orthodox Church, East Lansing, MI (Moscow Patriarchate) by Bishop Makary (Svistun), administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA.
He assisted Very Rev. Basil Karpelania with music at Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Saginaw. In 1977 he became choir director at Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church, Burton (OCA Bulgarian Diocese) a position he held until 1995. when he became choir director at Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church (OCA Midwest Diocese). In 2005, at the invitation of Very Rev. Raphael Biernacki he again became choir director at Saint Nicholas Church in Burton, a ministry which he continues to fulfill to this day.
In addition to writing church music for use with English, using music software he has begun to arrange texts in the prescribed podoben melodies which he sings and leads at Great Vespers on Saturday evenings. These melodies and the compilation of the texts and music which he does weekly for Saint Nicholas Church are made available on the website of the Bulgarian Diocese.
In 2012 he prepared the music and led the choir responses for the episcopal consecration of Archbishop Alexander and the Liturgy the day after the consecration. Reader John Joseph Tome prepared the choir and led the singing for the funeral of Archpriest Raphael Biernacki at Saint Nicholas Church, Burton and also prepared the choir at Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Fort Wayne, IN for the funeral of Archpriest George Nedelkoff.
In 2022 he led the choir at St Nicholas Cathedral, Fort Wayne, for the 10th anniversary of the episcopal consecration of Archbishop Alexander.
He expresses to gratitude to Dr. Vladimir Morosan for his assistance in utilizing music arranging software for the melodies he has been preparing for use.
Following the Liturgy at which Protodeacon Luke Gonser was awarded the kamilavka, both were honored with a festive brunch and cake in the parish fellowship hall.