SOURCE: Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese
Seminarians took part in the Pastoral Conference at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY for the first time. Pastoral conferences have been held in the Diocese for over 60 years, but traditionally participation was limited to clergy and their spouses.
because seminarians are the future of our Diocese and the whole Church Abroad, and we, the clergy, have a duty to do everything possible to prepare these future pastors to care for the growing diocesan flock," remarked diocesan secretary Archpriest Serge Lukianov.
The administration of Holy Trinity Seminary decided to cancel classes, so that the students might have an opportunity to listen to the lectures and interact with the clergy. The seminarians – about 40 in number – took part in discussions with diocesan clergy on difficult topics relating to spiritual and parish life.
In the words of Hieromonk Cyprian (Alexandrou), the seminary’s Dean of Students, the opportunity to talk about contemporary issues facing the Church with experienced pastors made a special impression on the students: "In our day we run up against problems whose solutions aren’t written in the Church canons," he said. "It is especially helpful for our students to receive practical advice from experienced clergy. After the discussion, many of the seminarians told me that they could have sat for many more hours, listening to their wise counsel."
The clergy shared their experience and gave practical advice about what to expect when starting down the part of pastoral service. Other topics discussed included the sacraments of confession and matrimony, questions dealing with liturgics, and complicated moral issues, including the attitude of the Church toward abortion, suicide, and more.
Second-year student David Mahand said that while speaking with the clergy, his "eyes were opened on many questions."
"Being able to talk to the clergy affords us an opportunity to see the practical side of priestly service, their joys and their difficulties. This helps us form an accurate picture of our future," said seminarian Peter Markevich.
Clergy and seminarians alike participated enthusiastically in the lectures and discussions, posing questions and cheerily looking forward to future pastoral conferences.
"It would be nice to have more time together for the priests and seminarians," said Mahand. "Jordanville is not an easy place to visit, and their presence here breathed life into the seminarians. I hope we can do the same for seminarians ten, fifteen, twenty years down the road."
At the request of the seminarians, representatives of the Diocesan Council are considering opportunities to hold special events geared towards greater interaction between seminarians and the clergy.