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Ordination of Father Methodius Nicori and Deacon Herman Madsen - 05/15/16

Christ is risen! Kristos Voskerese! Kristusaaq Unguirtuq! There are days when everything sems to proceed smoothly by God’s grace. The altar boys, starosta, servers, readers, deacons and subdeacons, priests, Bishop and the Choir all experienced this abundant grace of God. The Orthodox faithful of Holy Resurrection Cathedral celebrated the bright feast of Myrrh-Bearing Women on May 15, 2016 with joy and thanksgiving.

The Divine Liturgy was especially beautiful given the momentous occasion. The choir, led by Marilyn Kreta, carried the souls of the faithful up to angelic heights. The bass voices of the clergy filled the hearts of the faithful with the fear of the Lord. Everybody prayed, sang, and served in unison. What blessed memories to carry in their hearts for the newly ordained clergy, their family, and friends!

During the Ordination, the clergy had deep emotions of love and gratitude surging through their hearts. The entire congregation witnessed the ordination and affirmed the work of the Holy Spirit by shouting in unison "Axios!" (Greek word meaning "worthy").

The Madsens and the Johnsons families watched with mixed feelings of joy and awe how Subdeacon Herman was ordained Deacon. Mary Erika Madsen, Herman's wife, is now Matushka Mary. What a blessing and what a huge responsibility! The Nicori family gathered together by the ambo to witness the transformation of the father of the family, Deacon Methodius, into Priest Methodius.

On this bright day seminary faculty, parish members, families, and guests experienced great joy and thanked Our Lord for His abundant gifts of grace. Christ is risen! Kristos Voskerese! Kristusaaq Unguirtuq!

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Graduation 2016

St. Herman Seminary Graduation Ceremony 2016 - 05/15/16

Christ is risen! It's graduation time! This year, five students – Priest Joseph Larson, Priest Methodius Nicori, Mother Gabriella (Orgain), Matushka Mary Erika Madsen, and Subdeacon Luke Levi – graduated and Subdeacon James Keene received his Church Reader's Certificate. Also, former seminarian Deacon Innocent received his Clinical Pastoral Education Certificate. Our graduates will go on to serve Orthodox communities throughout Alaska.

Graduations involve speeches, diplomas, congratulations, smiles, tears, presents, a big cake, and tons of pictures! St. Herman’s had all of this and more! Vladyka David, Bishop of Sitka and Alaska, opened the graduation ceremony with a prayer and introduced special guests Dr. David Ford, Professor of Church History at St. Tikhon’s Theological Seminary, and Dr. Patricia Wilson-Cone of Providence Alaska Medical Center’s CPE program. Archpriest Dr. John Dunlop, Seminary Dean, welcomed the gathered guests and thanked the faculty for their sacrifices.

Dr. David Ford offered a beautiful address on unity in Christ. He pointed out that unity in Christ is the very essence of the Church. The Orthodox Church in Alaska holds a very special place in North American Church history because the Church is built on an Alaskan foundation. He urged Alaskans to know that they are bonded in unity with the rest of the Church in America and throughout the world. Through Jesus Christ the whole Body of the Church is kept in oneness of heart and mind. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

Dr. Patricia Wilson Cone (Providence Alaska Medical Center Program Manager CPE - Clinical Pastoral Education) shared her appreciation of the hard work of Deacon Innocent and Mother Gabriella toward their CPE certificates. She was overjoyed at the cooperation between St.Herman’s and Providence Alaska Medical Center. In the future this cooperation will only grow and expand. In the future, Dr. Patricia will help mentor more students in the Providence CPE program.

The ceremony continued with Matushka Marilyn Kreta sharing her memories of Father Joseph Kreta, the founding Dean of the Seminary. She presented an archival gift (the first item in the upcoming donations to the Protopresbyter Joseph Kreta Collection) to the Diocesan Archive housed at the Seminary. Finally, Mary Ann Khoury of Outreach Alaska showered graduating seminarians with gifts from their sponsors. Bishop David closed the ceremony with a prayer and a blessing. After partaking of a small homemade feast prepared by seminary cook Matushka Elsie Nicori, clergy, seminarians, their families, and guests had fellowship at the beautiful Afognak Native Corporation building. Everyone had many stories to share and many pictures to take.

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From Up North to Down South: Dn. Methodius Nicori Travels to New Orleans
Promenade in New Orleans
Promenade in New Orleans
Promenade in New Orleans
Deacon at Work
Deacon at Work
Deacon at Work
Walking Around New Orleans
Walking Around New Orleans
Walking Around New Orleans


    In January 2016, Deacon Methodius traveled to New Orleans to participate in a home rebuilding program sponsored by the International Orthodox Christian Charities. Like two other St. Herman’s students before him (Father Joseph Larson and Subdeacon Herman Madsen), Deacon Methodius had enough time not only to do the carpentry work and attend the services at the beautiful Holy Trinity Cathedral, the oldest Greek Orthodox church in the Americas, but also to walk around the beautiful New Orleans, partake of most flavorful Creole cuisine, and socialize and engage in theological discussions with seminarians from St. Vladimir’s, St. Tikhon’s, and Holy Cross Theological Seminaries.


The Altar of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, New Orleans, LA

When asked whether he felt overwhelmed by the vibrant New Orleans culture or intimidated by the knowledgeable seminarians from all over the nation, Deacon Methodius exclaimed assertively, “Not in the least!” In fact, this native of Kwethluk used a week-long trip as an opportunity to promote Alaskan way of life the best way he could: his guitar left in Kodiak, Deacon used his powers as a storyteller to enchant his audience with the descriptions of Alaska’s unfathomable expanses, hunting and dog-mushing stories, and, of course, Native Alaskan food. Deacon Methodius has even taken the trouble to bring some of his Native clothes with him – seal-skin parka and skufia and a pair of beaver-skin mittens. Most popular, however, were Deacon’s stories of Blessed Father Herman, of Saint Innocent of Alaska, Equal to the Apostles and Enlightener of North America, of Saint Yakov (Netzvetov), Enlightener of the Native People of Alaska, and, of course, of Deacon’s fellow Kwethlukian, Blessed Matushka Olga. We can only pray that SHS senior delivered well the powerful message of their Lives to his Orthodox teammates.


             Deacon Methodius Nicori, Orthodox Church in America, Diocese of Alaska

And the final touch to the story of SHS itinerant deacon: while on board the plane, Deacon Methodius recognized Jim Caviezel, a devout Catholic actor best known for his portrayal of Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.” Never shy to approach people, Deacon Methodius asked for a photo “autograph” which was kindly granted. As he later presented it in a lively report to his fellow seminarians, “I went down south to New Orleans and found … ‘Jesus’”!


Jim Caviezel and Deacon Methodius Nicori at the Airport


For more information on International Orthodox Christian Charities (“Seminary Action Team”) and Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in New Orleans, LA, please, follow the links below:




“Love is the Greatest Virtue of All.”

Matushka Bea Lecturing on God's Condescension


Matushka Bea, the wife of Seminary’s Dean, Father John Dunlop, plays not one but many important roles in the life of St. Herman Theological Seminary and Kodiak Parish: she is the Seminary’s Registrar, a New Testament, Patristics, Theology of Marriage, and New Testament Greek Instructor, Holy Resurrection Cathedral Choir Director (part-time), Sunday School Program Coordinator, and, last but not least, the mother of two teenage boys, who excel in math, music, sciences, and ancient languages (no wonder!). In December of 2015, the Sisterhood of St. John Orthodox Cathedral in Eagle River and, specifically, Matushka Bea’s students of nineteen years ago, Khouria (Arabic for “Matushka”) Colleen Polson and her husband Robert (now the Very Reverend Father Robert John Polson of St. John’s Parish) invited Matushka Bea to give a retreat. St. John’s is well known to many Alaskan Orthodox for its “Eagle River Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies,” where many renowned Orthodox speakers lecture on various topics related to Orthodoxy. Around thirty-five women attended the retreat, among them Matushka Xenia Oleksa, wife of Father Michael Oleksa, and Marina Hoffman, St. Herman’s former administrative assistant. Some women outside St. John’s parish attended as well.


  St. John's Cathedral Sisterhood Retreat 2015, Anchorage, Alaska


Matushka Bea’s Nativity-inspired topic, “God’s Condescension,” centered on the great mystery of God coming down to live with us creatures and to become one of us. At first, she focused on the meaning of the original Greek synkatabasis – “going down together with” as opposed to its Latin counterpart condescensio – a “voluntary assumption of equality with a person regarded as inferior.” Furthermore, following the suggestion of Robert Hill, a famous translator of St. John Chrysostom, Matushka offered the understanding of synkatabasis as God’s “considerateness,” his coming down together with us. Overall, the major goal of the talk was to reflect on “the God who bends down to create us and bends down to live among us, the one who “bows the heavens and comes down” (Psalm 144:5).”


 While at St. John’s, Matushka Bea was impressed, among other things, with St. John’s Catechesis program “Good Shepherd,” which is based on a Montessori Method of developing a creative and interactive approach to each child’s specific educational needs. At St. Herman’s, Matushka Bea has also tried to incorporate this hands-on, project-based learning approach but at St. John’s it is implemented, according to her, “to the max.” Thus, one of the manipulatives, “the Bible,” looked like a beautiful jewelry box that contained all the Books of the Bible represented by numbered (according to their place in the Old and New Testaments) and size-proportionate (according to their textual length) color-coded wooden blocks. Also, at St. John’s children learn the order and meaning of Orthodox services through role-playing at various “stations” – a “Holy Communion Station” has a miniature replica of an altar with a special tray for paten and a heavy metal cup for “Holy Communion,” a “Baptismal Station” with a miniature imitation of a baptismal font, and tens of other Orthodox “stations.” It must be mentioned here that even though St. Herman’s lacks the “stations,” it can boast a popsicle-stick replica of the Seminary Chapel – the final project of the then freshman and now Father Joseph Larson, Matushka Bea’s Sunday school teacher-apprentice.


Replica of the Chapel of All Saints of Alaska


Montessori or not, St. Herman’s Sunday school program is open to all children of Kodiak parish, while providing training for Seminary student to become Sunday school teachers in Alaska village communities. To begin with, all potential Sunday school teachers undergo the obligatory screening and are taught the basics of providing a safe environment for children. Usually, all the incoming students are excited about the opportunity to teach but sometimes they get “tripped up” with the age-appropriate content: thus, the history of Ecumenical Councils covered in a Seminary course will not necessarily interest children. In this case, learning how to talk to children of a particular age group and making lesson plans usually resolves the issue. Another challenge, according to Matushka Bea, is learning to maintain discipline in a classroom. In this case, she teaches her students to be proactive and plan ahead.


Sunday School Classes Always Start With the Prayer at the Seminary Chapel


After a year of assisting a more experienced student and completing a “hands-on” project, the students can choose the age group they feel comfortable working with – preschool, preteen, or teenage. Immediately, the bond is formed between the teacher and the students: children begin to see their Sunday school teachers as a role-models during weekly church services at Holy Resurrection Cathedral and around campus, which, naturally, inspires Seminary students to be better Christians. During the summer, students usually share their knowledge and experience by running Orthodox Youth Camps. Finally, all of Matushka’s “apprentices” help to prepare for the traditional Christmas or Easter performances based on a story from the Scripture.


Most seminarians characterize Matushka Bea as the most challenging instructor at the Seminary: kind, yet firm, she makes it impossible to come to class unprepared. Driven by the desire to teach all those who want to learn, Matushka Bea does it with unfeigned humility and compassion. Moreover, exemplifying the virtues of a Christian teacher, Matushka never hesitates to “come down” from the Ivory Tower of her superb education (B.A. from Yale University, M.A. from St. Vladimir Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from Boston College) and use both “hands-on” and “minds-on” techniques to teach her students how to write a paper, how to translate a sentence in Greek, or how to understand the writings of the Orthodox Church Fathers. Thus, when asked about advice she can give to future Sunday school teachers, Matushka Bea smiled gently and said, “Love the kids, that’s all.”


 Seminary Kids Going to Sunday School 

(Listen to Them Ringing Bells By Following the Link)

Tikhon Shalamov's 1903 Missionary Travelogue, Part IIIb, Akhiok to Kodiak
Baidarkas Fleet Leaving Akhiok
Baidarkas Fleet Leaving Akhiok
Baidarkas Fleet Leaving Akhiok

For millennia, portaging on Kodiak Island involved carrying light-weight skin boats (baidarkas) from one bay to another in order to either shorten the route or avoid the perils of open-ocean travel. It has been a traditional way for the ancient people of Kodiak to move around the island that had numerous capes and narrow bays. In addition, ocean waters presented considerable danger, especially near the shore because of strong tidal currents and waves. For all the aforementioned reasons, Native Alutiiq people had a well-developed system of portages, three of which are described in this section of the travelogue – Portage Bay to Kaiugnak Bay, Kiliuda Bay to Orlovo, and, finally, Ugak Bay to Kalsin Bay.


The Spiritual Camaraderie of Women's Bible Studies at St. Herman's

Women's Bible Study Group at St. Herman Theological Seminary, Fall 2015

Left to Right: Elena Levi, Matushka Sophie Larson, Bernice Keene, Matushka Teresa Isaac,

Mother Gabriella, Matushka Roseann Rucker, Mary Madsen

In 2010, Mother Gabriella, an Alaska-based monastic with the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America, was enrolled into St. Herman Seminary. Soon after, the Dean of the Seminary, Father John Dunlop, well aware of her extensive monastic experience, suggested that she started, just once a week, women’s Bible studies and women-led vespers. According to Mother Gabriella, the project was started simply as “a support group meant to provide information and camaraderie for women at the Seminary.” Now, five years later, the project has transformed itself into a well-established institution: every Tuesday evening, Matushkas, seminary wives, and female seminarians put their housework or homework aside and join Mother Gabriella for vespers at the Seminary Chapel. After vespers, they check on kids at home, feed the hungry husbands, and then go to St. Matthew’s classroom, where they first pray, then socialize with other women over tea and cookies, then read the Bible together or, in teams (!), make presentations about female Orthodox Saints. At the end of the session, they always sing Akathist to the Mother of God.

Mother Gabriella admits that the project has expanded from “simply reading the Gospel together to learning to read and sing in church.” At first, the format of the meetings resembled more of a class setting; these days, however, women first have tea, discuss news, and share problems. Also, Mother Gabriella has recently started the study of the lives of female Orthodox Saints, specifically the patron saints of attending women. It is thanks to this decision that Matushka Teresa will celebrate her first Saint’s Day this year! Also, Mother Gabriella has introduced “themes.” This year’s theme, for example, is “Women Serving the Church.” Mother Gabriella strongly feels that the first step in this service is “to know the Gospel, know the life of Jesus Christ, and know what it means to be a Christian. Out of that, through readings or through learning about female Saints, a personal spiritual life can be deepened or developed.”

At first, Mother Gabriella did not have much feedback, and so she was not sure whether the women were interested or they felt forced to come. It was only later that she found out that most of them really enjoyed coming and having “the night for themselves.” Also, fathers of the families were stepping up and making it possible for their wives to be in church and in class. The transformation of village-shy Matushkas into knowledgeable church readers could not happen overnight, however: gaining the confidence to speak loudly was the first step. At the same time, according to Mother Gabriella, who plays the multiple (unofficial) roles of a tone tutor, choir director, liturgics, Old and New Testaments instructor, it does help to have only women around, so that everybody in the group can “feel free to make mistakes.”

Most of the attendees, like Matushka Teresa Isaac, who has now attended the meetings for more than four years, have not had any significant Bible reading experience before, and so reading whole chapters from the Gospel of Matthew was, in a way, new to her. To help the inexperienced, Mother Gabriella, through the Seminary, ordered dictionaries and encouraged the women to write down sentences or passages they did not understand, so that they could discuss them together in class. Even those coming from a long-standing Moravian tradition of women’s Bible studies, like Matushka Sophie Larson, found the meetings extremely useful, for she could keep “learning Orthodoxy” from Mother Gabriella.

Over the years, the dynamics in the group has changed: it is now the “seniors” of the group, Matushka Teresa and Matushka Sophie who are encouraging the “freshmen” Matushkas and female seminarians to learn. As Matushka Teresa puts it, “Once you leave here and go to your parish, they expect you to know everything, especially how the services are put together, how the tones are sung… Without this knowledge, I felt embarrassed… And that is why I try to tell other ladies at the Seminary how important it is to learn the order of services and the tones before they leave. I encourage them to take classes.”

For a couple of years now, the group has been doing an intercessory prayer for one another and for families by singing a portion of the Akathist to the Theotokos. At this point, most women know it and can sing it by themselves or let others in their new parish join them. As for having fun, “we laugh a lot,” says Mother Gabriella. “Also, we always have tea. Occasionally, we go by boat to St. Nilus Island. In fact, nuns from St. Nilus Skete and monks from St. Michael’s Skete pray every day and every week for every seminarian and all of their family members.”

Mother Gabriella also pointed out that the faculty of the seminary (Father John Dunlop, Matushka Bea Dunlop, Deacon Irenaios, Matushka Roseann Rucker) have been very supportive of Women’s Bible Studies. For many years, every spring, Mary Ann Khoury (Outreach Alaska) has provided a sumptuous lunch for seminary wives and female students. Also, experienced Matushkas from and outside Kodiak parish (Matushka Marilyn Kreta, Matushka Daria Trefon, Matushka Susan Philo) gave talks on the topics of raising children and having a balanced family life while serving the Church. As for Bishop David, during his November visit to Kodiak, he attended the almost two-hour long meeting of the Women’s Group, gave a talk, sang Akathist together with the women, and, in the end, said that he would like to come again! “The Bishop does feel,” says Mother Gabriella, “that it is important for mothers, grandmothers, and young women to be involved in the life of the Church.”

Excited about the growing number of female seminarians at St. Herman’s, Mother Gabriella ascribes this phenomenon to the positive role-modelling of the group participants when they go back home for the summer: “people see how much they’ve changed, how much they’ve learned, and how much they have to offer to their village and to their church. The priests themselves cannot do everything: we need catechists, we need singers, we need people who just know their faith and can uphold and pass on this faith for the next generation. And these ladies have so much to give back to their villages, their churches, and to the Diocese as a whole!”

Mother Gabriella encourages all Orthodox women in the villages to come to the seminary and explore their faith, learn how to be of service to others around them and how to embrace a sober, communal lifestyle. “It seems difficult because you have to give it all you’ve got – it is difficult but it is not impossible! Besides, you will be given incredible support.” She also wishes that women at the Seminary would not put on hold their own education till they have gone back home. “Ask your questions now! Utilize what is here now! Think about things! Reach out for knowledge, reach out for understanding!”

Tuesday Vespers at All Saints of Alaska Chapel, St. Herman Seminary, Fall 2015

Deacon Michael Ordained a Priest! AXIOS! AXIOS! AXIOS!

Interview with Stephanida Wood Regarding the Ordination of Her Brother, Fr. Michael Trefon Jr. - 11/08/15

Ready and Worthy to be Ordained! Axios!

St. Herman Theological Seminary is happy to report one more ordination of a graduate during the last Diocesan Assembly in Anchorage, AK. Deacon Michael Trefon, the son of Father Michael Trefon, was ordained a priest! Below are the excerpts from the interview with Father Michael Jr.’s sister, Stephanida Wood, also a Seminary student in the past and a Seminary wife (husband of a 1st year student, Subdeacon Stephen Wood) in the present.

SHS: Stephanida, when did your brother decide to become a priest?

SW: As far as I know, he never wanted to be a priest, he just wanted to stay a deacon. When my dad told me, I was in shock. I said that I was not sure. You see, I was still protective of my little brother, I did not want him to grow up yet.

SHS: How old is he now?

SW: He is 29. But for me… I just never looked at him growing up as a priest, only a deacon. And when I heard the news, I thought, “Ok, this is different.” I was still unsure, but, in my heart, I knew he was ready and I was ready to let him go. Let him grow up.

SHS: How about Fr. Michael Jr.’s Matushka, Tamara? Was she ready for this?

SW: She is just a very determined person in trying to achieve her goal of getting a teacher’s degree. She is the first in her family to go to college and it is taking longer than she planned – they started a family when still quite young (Matushka Tamara and Father Michael Jr. now have two lovely toddlers – SHS).

SHS: Did you perception of your brother change once he was ordained?

SW: Oh, no, he is still the same person to me. But there was a big change in him when he went to the Seminary: he had really become a different person then. He does want to help people and serve in the Church. And that’s what he’s always been doing since he was a kid. He was already serving in the altar at the age of three.

SHS: And how many brothers do you have altogether?

SW: Three: Michael, Edward (Fr. Michael Jr.), and Gregory.

SHS: Did they all serve in the Church?

SW: Yes, on and off.

SHS: How come it was Michael, of all the brothers, who decided to enter the Seminary?

SW: I think he just wanted to change his life. Also, he wanted to learn more about Orthodoxy. And then he liked it so much that he stuck to it.

SHS: You also went to the Seminary, right?

SW: I guess he saw how much I changed when I went to the seminary.

SHS: Who advised you to go to the Seminary? Your Dad?

SW: Not, it was my own. [It was] because my Dad went to the Seminary here. And growing up, when I was little, being here with my Dad, we enjoyed being here in Kodiak. It was one of our favorite memories of where we lived. It was our happy place, you know. We loved it here and so we both (Stephanie and Fr. Michael Jr. – SHS) came back here seeking our roots, seeking help. And we both found it. Being at the Seminary changed our lives and it keeps changing the lives of other people – we might not see it, but at home, people saw two daughters of my grandmother Evelyn become Matushkas and now my little brother Edward has grown up to be a Father, and people have been saying, “You, guys, are blessed!”

SHS: What was Father Michael’s favorite subject at the Seminary? Did he share it with you?

SW: It was Liturgics. He also started writing his own book of Liturgics. [It is] because he knew the services so well since early childhood, he knew where the people should be in the altar. One day he said, “You know, these books are not so great…” And so he started writing his own!

SHS: Any funny stories you can share with us?

SW: I don’t know if it is funny, but when our Dad studied at the Seminary, Edward always kept playing a priest: he said his prayers and censed around all the time. Also, my grandmother Evelyn has a story of him: at the same age of four or five, back home in Newhaylen, they were trying to get across the lake and it was really rough. So they thought of not going… But my brother got some saltine crackers, crumbled them up in his hand, and made the sign of a cross on the water… Suddenly, it got calm and they could all leave in a boat.

SHS: What do you wish your brother as a priest?

SW: I think Nunapitchuk (Matushka Tamara’s native village, where Father Michael Jr. is assigned as an assistant priest to Father Philip – SHS) is a good place for him and his family to be. They just moved there before ordination and they are doing really great! I hope they stay there for a while, at least until Matushka Tamara is done with school. And I want to say to my brother -- it takes patience if you want to bring people back to Church. Do not be discouraged in trying to change people right away. People are not going to change right away. It is going to take time. Go and visit. This is what our Dad always did. He never waited for people to come to him – my Dad always went to visit people. If he did not see them come around, he would just go back and visit. And so Fr. Michael Jr. can learn from his Dad, how his Dad was just a simple person caring for other people.

SHS: Thank you, Stephanida, and congratulations!


Fr. Michael Trefon Jr. and the Family

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Village Atmosphere at St. Herman's Seminary
Seminary Family at Holy Resurrection Cathedral
Seminary Family at Holy Resurrection Cathedral
Seminary Family at Holy Resurrection Cathedral


BY MIKE ROSTAD (Kodiak Daily Mirror)

Villages – clusters of people bound by strands of blood, common history and language, a mutual struggle for survival and a shared interest in their children and the beliefs that answer the questions of the soul. Most of the students and their families at St. Herman’s Seminary come from villages on the Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta and Bristol Bay. They converge in the large community of Kodiak to form their own village.

     "The campus is a “little community where they’re living in close quarters,” said Fr. John Dunlop, Seminary dean. “People have to trust each other, work with each other, live together, try to befriend each other. As with all villages, sometimes there’s” friction and conflict.

     “There is that feeling that we are all one family, no matter where we come from, no matter what we’ve gone through,” said Deacon Irenaios Anderson, academic dean and church history professor. “We’re going through the same things here.”

Anderson said that married men who attend the seminary are caught up in a balancing act of going to classes, doing homework, taking care of the family and participating in church. “Mothers are trying to keep families going, the kids clean.” Keeping that balance is a challenge, he said.

     “It’s important for them to cultivate their families while they’re here at the seminary,” said Anderson, “because you see so much of a challenge once people get out into ministry, where they’re not going to have that kind of support. We want to make sure that they’ve laid a strong foundation while they’re here at the seminary."

Deacon Irenaios Anderson and Father John Dunlop

Deacon Irenaios Anderson (left) and Father John Dunlop (right)

During their time at the seminary, students carry on traditions and practices that remind them of home.

     “We worship together every day, receive Sacraments together and, so it becomes very close,” Dunlop said.

Students and staff communally celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas (Nativity) and birthday parties, baptisms and anniversaries. They’ve also been introduced to new customs, such as the All Saints party, a Seminary alternative to Halloween. Children of seminarians dress as a favorite saint, giving clues of their identity to a panel of faculty experts.

     “We look forward to seeing the creativity that the children have,” Anderson said. “Some of them actually succeed in stumping our panel of judges.

Rather than centering on the macabre, the event calls attention to the saints, many of whom died for their faith. The seminary is doing what Christians have done for centuries – baptizing pagan customs," Anderson said. 

Very often a church will be built on top of a pagan temple. This “baptism” – claiming something secular and pagan for the kingdom of God— appears in the Old Testament where, for instance, the Israelites transformed the Canaanite first-fruits pagan harvest festival into a holy day known as Pentecost, “which then is transferred to the Christian festival of the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the first-fruit of people coming into the Church,” Anderson said.

Students learn more about biblical and ecclesiological practices in their seminary classes, which include courses on patristics, Old and New Testament, church history, homiletics, spirituality and missions. Dunlop and Anderson noted that many presume that the seminary’s sole purpose is to train men – preferably Native men— to become priests. While this was the impetus behind the founding of the seminary in the early 1970s, its mission has broadened.

     "There is more diversity today with more non-traditional students," Anderson said.

The freshman class includes a non-Native businessman who is looking for ways in which to serve the church and a priest’s wife who realized that she needed training as well as her husband.

     “We have quite a few female students,” Dunlop said.

Even though women cannot enter the priesthood, they can lead vital ministries such as teaching catechism, directing the choir or being a church reader.

     "These ministries are “important on parish levels,” Dunlop said. “Leadership can come in different shapes.”

     “So often we hear there is no ministry for women in the church,” Anderson said. “That’s simply not the case. They can lead a service in the absence of a priest. A reader is a very important position in the church here in Alaska.”

The men noted that many Kodiak Island Orthodox churches have active and effective female readers. Students who aspire to become church readers are given many opportunities to read during services at Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Kodiak.

Ever since its founding, the seminary has been affiliated with the Kodiak parish. Students and faculty participate in teaching church school, seminary men and their sons serve in the altar and some faculty hold classes that are offered to Cathedral parishioners. Once again, Anderson plans to hold a Great Lenten and Nativity lecture series that deal with current issues in light of traditional Orthodox teaching. Faculty member, Fr. David Rucker, is launching a new catechism class for parishioners and others who are interested. The lecture series and catechism class will be taught at the seminary.

St. Herman's Faculty During the 2015 Graduation

    Seminary Faculty (and Two Graduates) During 2015 Graduation: (from left to right: David Young, Matushka Roseann Rucker, Deacon John Kudrin, Father David Rucker, Bishop David, Father John Dunlop, Matushka Bea Dunlop, Subdeacon Jason Chocknok, Deacon Irenaios Anderson, Daria Safronova-Simeonoff, Deacon Innocent Philo).

     ”We’re partners with the cathedral in trying to reach the community,” Dunlop said.

Another Seminary project that may be of interest to the community is the translation from Russian to English of journals, letters and other unpublished documents penned by Orthodox missionaries in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. The translations are available to the public by accessing the Seminary website.The project is led by Seminary archivist, Daria Safronova-Simeonoff. Local historian, Dawn Black, is assisting with the translation projects.

      “It’s a totally new venture and (includes) all local history," Dunlop said. "Ultimately, the seminary would like to publish the material in book form."

On a more practical level, the seminary will be offering training courses for counseling those caught up in alcohol and drug abuse. The course is presented by Janet Carter, director of Rural Alaska Drug and Alcohol Counselor Training (RADACT) and funded by the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). Dunlop notes that substance abuse is an invasive problem throughout Alaska and that it’s important that seminarians apply the theology and doctrine they learned in their classes to battle behaviors and lifestyles that threaten the well-being in every community.

Deacon Joseph Ordained a Priest! AXIOS!

Ordination of Father Joseph Larson

One of the happiest events at the Seminary is the ordination of its students. After four years of educational and life struggles, the moment of truth approaches and the student is asked to make the final commitment to Christ and His Church.

Ordinations of seminary clergy usually either take place at the Diocesan Assembly at St. Innocent Cathedral in Anchorage or, if at the end of the school year, at Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Kodiak. However, this year, on September 24 His Grace Bishop DAVID celebrated the Hierarchical Liturgy celebrating All Saints of Alaska (the patronal feast day of the Seminary chapel), ordaining Dn. Joseph Larson to the Holy Priesthood at the Seminary Chapel. Participating clergy were Fr. David Rucker (OCMC missionary and Instructor at the Seminary), Fr. Innocent Dresdow (Dean of the Kodiak Island deanery and rector of Holy Resurrection Cathedral), Fr. Jason Isaac (attached to Holy Resurrection Cathedral), and Dn. Methodius Nicori (4th year seminarian). Also serving were the following seminarians: Sdn. Luke Levi (4th year), Sdn. Herman Madsen (3rd year), and Sdn. Stephen Wood (1st year). The ordination was further celebrated in the evening with a lavish feast at the Refectory. Axios!

Father Joseph Larson. Axios!


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Metropolitan Tikhon Visits the Archive
During the 2015 St. Herman Pilgrimage, Metropolitan Tikhon, Bishop David (Bishop of Sitka and Alaska), and Bishop Daniel (Bishop of Santa Rosa) visited the Diocesan Archive at St Herman Seminary. The hierarchs were given an extended tour by the Seminary Archivist, Daria Safronova-Simeonoff, and shown the letters of St. Innocent of Alaska and the log-journals of St. Yakov Netsvetov. Vladyka Tikhon was especially impressed with the oldest artifact of our collection, a 1697 Menaion that arrived in Kodiak with the first Russian Orthodox Mission to Alaska.
Priest Tikhon Shalamov, Part V: Monk's Lagoon
St. Herman's Orphanage (Kodiak, AK, circa 1903)
St. Herman's Orphanage (Kodiak, AK, circa 1903)
St. Herman's Orphanage (Kodiak, AK, circa 1903)
Around the Mission: from the Log-Journal of an Alaskan Orthodox Missionary

The tradition of pilgrimages to Monk’s Lagoon can be traced all the way to the times of Father Herman settling there. Upon the Elder’s repose in 1837, the flood of pilgrims intensified: almost every Russian missionary serving in Alaska, as well as the pious locals, wanted to visit the grave of the Blessed Elder. In Part V of  Father Tikhon Shalamov's Travelogue you will join him and the students from St. Herman Orphanage as they journey to Monk's Lagoon from St. Paul's Harbor (Kodiak) in the August of 1903.

Read Part V here

Photos from St. Herman Pilgrimage 2015

St. Herman Pilgrimage 2015 - 08/07/15

This year’s St. Herman Pilgrimage was blessed with the presence of three OCA hierarchs: His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon; His Grace, Bishop David (Bishop of Sitka and Alaska); and His Grace, Bishop Daniel (Bishop of Santa Rosa, auxiliary to His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of the Diocese of the West). The Pilgrimage opened with the Akathist to St. Herman of Alaska at Holy Resurrection Cathedral. The light from the newly installed windows (ten windows were broken during the recent act of vandalism) shone brightly upon the faithful, who hailed from the United States and abroad. The akathist was followed by the Bishop’s tea in the Cathedral basement and, after the tea, a tour of the Diocesan Archives located at St. Herman’s Seminary.

On Saturday morning the pilgrims boarded the small fleet of boats (a dozen or so skiffs, seiners, and charter boats) that took them to Spruce Island. Half way to Spruce Island, the thick fog descended and hid the shoreline, making everybody wonder whether it was in God’s will for the pilgrims to make it to the grave of St. Herman. Monks from St. Michael’s Skete on Spruce Island and Father Innocent Dresdow prevented the fleet from losing its way, and soon all pilgrims were delivered onshore.

The Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the chapel, with the choir—directed by Hierodeacon Herman from St. Vladimir Seminary—singing beautifully in English, Slavonic, and Alutiiq. After receiving Holy Communion, pilgrims could venerate the grave of St. Herman located under the chapel. Bishop David served a panikhida at the graves of Father Gerasim Schmaltz and Father Peter Kreta. Stopping on the way back down the trail at Father Gerasim’s cell, Kaluga Mother of God Chapel, and Father Herman’s Spring, hungry pilgrims trickled to the beach, where people from the village of Ouzinkie served a lavish lunch.

Suddenly, after lunch, a rather heavy rain started pouring. Wet but happy, the departing pilgrims were greeted at the Cathedral basement by the St. Herman Sisterhood of Holy Resurrection Cathedral serving borscht, corned beef soup, freshly baked biscuits, and apple and rhubarb cakes before the pilgrims gathered to celebrate Great Vespers. The Sunday Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was marked by the elevation of Reader Stephen Wood to Subdeacon. After the Liturgy the Hierarchs and pilgrims went to the Afognak Native Corporation Building where the St. Herman Sisterhood had prepared a banquet of baked salmon, halibut, and cake. After dessert, the pilgrims shared their reflections on the Pilgrimage, followed by the concluding remarks by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon. Most of the pilgrims left the Island by air within a couple of hours, while the rest waited for the ferry to take them to the mainland. Everything suddenly grew quiet at the seminary . . . until next year’s Pilgrimage.

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Fr. John Visits Akhiok

The Blessing of the Fleet and Saints Peter and Paul Feast - 07/10/15

The life of a village priest is never boring, especially when he has to visit some of the most remote parishes. Father John Dunlop spent this last weekend in the village of Akhiok, located on the south end of Kodiak Island. One hour away from Kodiak by bush plane, the village of 70 people still maintains an Orthodox lifestyle: kids have traditional church names, icon corners adorn the homes, and people still come to the airstrip to greet the priest, whom they call simply “Father.”

While in Akhiok, Father John visited the parishioners, served Vespers and Divine Liturgy, observed and participated in the after-church session of Sunday school, blessed a fishing cabin, and performed a traditional blessing of the Akhiok fleet. To make his stay more exciting, Akhiok Mayor and Church Reader Linda Amodo took Father John halibut fishing. She also showed him around Alitak Cannery, one of the oldest in Kodiak, founded in 1917.

Akhiok fisherman Walter Simeonoff took Father John to Cape Alitak, the mystery-laden place where Native people warred and whaled for millennia, leaving after themselves hundreds of petroglyphs, the largest conglomeration of these in Alaska.

Finally, Father John was weathered in – the scheduled bush plane could not arrive because of the fog and rain, customary in Akhiok. This gave Father a chance to visit some more. The evening plane, however, made it through the fog and Father, laden with gifts of the sea, left for Kodiak to resume his duties as Seminary Dean.

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Project Slawilutiiq

Project Slawilutiiq was started in the spring of 2012 by Kodiak Alutiiq Elders and Daria Safronova-Simeonoff, the Seminary Archivist. The project was supported by Archbishop Benjamin and Bishop David, Kodiak clergy, St. Herman Seminary, and the Church Readers of Kodiak Island village parishes. Stephen Bodnar, a local Kodiak musician, helped to record and put into music the church hymns that existed, for the most part, as an oral tradition before that. This video is a condensed version of the presentation of the project at the Baranov Museum in May of 2015. The stories told by the clergy and the Elders reveal a long-lasting legacy of the 1794 Russian Orthodox Mission to Alaska, as well as to send a positive message of the ongoing reintroduction and revitalization of the once common Orthodox hymns in the Alutiiq language.

Seminary Receives Furniture Donation

IOCC and Outreach Alaska Donation - 06/24/15

Thanks to IOCC and Outreach Alaska, the seminary was in receipt of a huge donation of furniture. The seminary kept a number of beds, dressers, and desks to be used in the student housing. The surplus goods were distributed to other local non-profits and families. A youth group mission team from Church of the Annunciation in Milwaukie, Oregon, did most of the heavy lifting and were assisted by parishioners from Holy Resurrection Cathedral as well as Kodiak's local Roman Catholic priest and volunteers from the Baptist Mission. It was a real community event! The grateful organizations that received the extra furniture included Native Village of Afognak, Kodiak Women's Crisis Center, Kodiak Island Housing Authority, Kodiak Baptist Mission, Kodiak Wildlife Refuge, and others.

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Priest Tikhon Shalamov Part III
Around the Mission: from the Log-Journal of an Alaskan Orthodox Missionary

The third part of the second installment of Missionary Travelogues has been translated from its 1904 publication and posted. See the rare photographs Priest Tikhon Shalamov took around the island and read about his journey from the villages of Aiaktalik to Akhiok.

Read Here

Graduation 2015

42nd Commencement Ceremony - 05/10/15

We had a full seminary as His Grace, Bishop David, arrived in Kodiak for the week of graduation along with various alumni, family from the villages, and many friends. Fr. David Rucker gave the commencement address, and Mat. Bea awarded the graduates with gifts on behalf of Mary Ann Koury and Outreach Alaska.

Congratulations to our grads: Dn. John Kudrin and Subdn. Sergius Chocknok, and to those awarded readers certificates: Elena Levi and Subdn. Herman Madsen.

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Diary of Alaskan Pilgrimage

St. Vladimir seminarians, Fr. Theodor Svane of Norway and Bogdan Neacsiu of Romania, joined the Very Reverend Dr. Chad Hatfield, chancellor/CEO, in several days of travel and ministry to St. Herman Seminary. Father Theodor kept a diary of the eventful trip, read it by clicking the link below.

St. Vladimir Article

Pascha News Article
Pascha around the Diocese

Christ is Risen! Khristusax aglagikux! Kristus aq ungwektaq! Xris-tusaq Ung-uixtuq! Xristos voskres! Χριστός α̉νέστη! - 04/12/15

Seminarian Dn. John Kudrin and visiting professor Fr. David Rucker visit St. Paul Island while current students, Sdn. Luke and Dn. Joseph, visit St. Herman Seminary Graduate, Fr. Michael, at his parish in Dillingham for Pascha.

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Priest Tikhon Shalamov (Kodiak Parish) 1904 Part II
Around the Mission: from the Log-Journal of an Alaskan Orthodox Missionary Pt II

The second part of the second installment of Missionary Travelogues has been translated from its 1904 publication and posted. See the rare photographs Priest Tikhon Shalamov took around the island and read more about his experiences. 
Read Here

Priest Tikhon Shalamov (Kodiak Parish) 1904 Part I
Around the Mission: from the Log-Journal of an Alaskan Orthodox Missionary

Part I of the second installment of Missionary Travelogues has been translated from its 1904 publication and posted here on our website! Read about Priest Tikhon Shalamov (Kodiak Parish) and his adventures traveling around Kodiak Island by boat and on foot by clicking the link below. 

Read Here

Church School

Children Make Icons in Church School - 03/01/15

Seminarians Teresa Carlson and Elena Levi teach a Church School lesson and project with the children

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Orthodox Sunday
Clean Week

Hierarchical services - 02/26/15

This week, services were held with the rector of St. Herman Seminary--His Grace, Bishop David of Sitka and Alaska. 

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Nativity in Ouzinkie

Fr. John Serves Over Winter Break

Dean of St. Herman Seminary, Fr. John Dunlop, went to the local village of Ouzinkie to serve during Nativity and The Great Blessing of the Waters. 

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Seminarian Joins IOCC Team Over Winter Break
Herman Madsen helps rebuild in New Orleans

Click the link below to read the IOCC article.

IOCC Action Team Article

Missionary Travelogues Part III
From the Travel Journal of the Orthodox Priest Nikolai Kashevaroff

Here we have a bilingual account of the priest Nikolai Kasheveroff's travel journal with entries from 1909 and 1915-1916.

Missionary Travelogue Part III

Missionary Travelogues Part II
Priest Nikolai Petrovich Kashevaroff of Holy Resurrection Cathedral

This next installment is a letter written by Fr. Nikolai Kashevaroff in three languages (Russian, Alutiiq, and English combined together), confirming the fact of trilinguacy among the Russian Creoles of Kodiak Island. Unfortunately by the 1960s trilinguacy, specifically in writing, became extinct.

Click below to read:
Missionary Travelogue Part II

New Project at the Seminary

Part 1 - 12/03/14

Dawn Lea Black’s and St. Herman Seminary archivist Daria Safronova-Simeonoff’s Project “Kodiak Area Orthodox Priests’ and Missionaries’ Letters and Travelogues from the 19th and 20th Centuries" has published its first translation on the SHS website. This never-before translated journal tells of Orthodox Missionary Hieromonk Anatolii's journey to Spruce Island in the late 1800s. Follow along as more letters, journals, and travelogues will be posted under the "Travel Journal Project" tab on the left of the home page. 
Or click the link below
Missionary Travelogues Part 1

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Seminary Graduate Translates Book
Orthodox Christianity Volume III: The Architecture, Icons and Music of the Orthodox Church

2010 St. Herman Seminary graduate, Fr. Andrei Tepper, has a new book released from St Vladimir's Seminary Press that he translated from Russian. He currently is serving as Priest of St. Herman Church in King Cove, Alaska.  To view the details of the book and order a copy online click on this link or copy and paste it into your browser http://www.svspress.com/orthodox-christianity-volume-iii-the-architecture-icons-and-music-of-the-orthodox-church/

Seminarian Featured in Kodiak Daily Mirror Article
Seminarian Alex Larson doesn’t hesitate to help


Special to the Mirror

                St. Herman’s Seminary student, Alexander Larson, didn’t hesitate when asked to help a New Orleans neighborhood that had been ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and other Gulf storms.

                Larson, who is beginning his third year at St. Herman’s Seminary, volunteered with fellow Orthodox Christians of the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and other churches and humanitarian groups to renovate houses in New Orleans’ Bourbon Street district.

“I was glad to go,” said Larson, an Alaska Native from the village of Napaskiak on the Kuskokwim River. “That’s part of my nature – helping others in need. I guess that comes from my family.”

Although New Orleans and Napaskiak are vastly different, the plight of the needy in the Gulf communities struck a familiar cord with Larson. Alaska coastal villages are vulnerable to the ravages of nature. Spring break-up unleashes pent-up waters that flood houses and, in some cases, displace communities.

When you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature, you can quickly become storm-bound, homeless, caught in a very precarious position.

                On top of that, economic hardship takes a toll on families.

                Larson remembers his parents answering the cry for help – food for empty stomachs, money to pay for heating bills and other needs.

                “My family would give to (the needy,) not asking to be repaid,” said Larson.

                Larson put that philosophy in practice in New Orleans, using his carpentry skills that were passed down by his father and uncles and developed while living in his wife, Fanny’s, village of Akiachak.

                “That’s where these construction and carpentry traits came to my blood,” Larson said. “I built my own house” as well as other homes.

In New Orleans, Larson and fellow volunteers put up siding and sheetrock and took care of other tasks involved in re-building up the damaged homes.

Although Larson had never been to New Orleans before, he had an introduction to the Southeast part of the country while going through boot camp in Georgia for the Army National Guard. Larson has also traveled to Japan and Hawaii.

He said he liked “the country and people,” in New Orleans. “We met some of the residents. They were very happy to greet us and thanked us for helping build their homes.”

But the area they worked in was fraught with temptations, Larson said. The district is notorious for night clubs, strip joints, houses of ill repute and drug dealers.

However, the volunteers were so busy putting up sheet rock, pounding nails and painting, that they hardly noticed the problems.

Reflecting over his time in New Orleans, Larson said he has a deeper appreciation of the Savior’s words, “It is more blessed to give than receive.”

The experience became a joyful discovery, or re-discovery, to Larson, who was taught, by example, to serve.

“I would suggest that anyone who is being called for volunteer work, just do it, and don’t be lazy about it,” Larson said.

                Shortly after Larson’s trip to New Orleans, Dan Kristopolos, head of the IOCC group, visited St. Herman’s Seminary.

Larson asked him if IOCC could come to Alaska “to see if they could volunteer up here,” Larson said. “In my area, when there is ice break-up, when the ice goes out to the ocean, there is devastation to the villages. Some lose their own houses, some lose their lives. I would suggest the IOCC and the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) work with the Diocese of Alaska to form some kind of agreement with each other, so they could come up here and not only to other parts of the world.”

Certainly helping Alaska communities lies within the purview of the IOCC. According to its mission statement the IOCC, “in the spirit of Christ’s love, offers emergency relief and development programs to those in need worldwide … and strengthens the capacity of the Orthodox Church to so respond.”

The IOCC was formed in 1992 as the official humanitarian aid organization of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America. It “has been helping people throughout the world ‘start again,’” says its website.

The IOCC has responded to natural disasters, such as the tsunami in Southeast Asia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike in America and man-made disasters including the shootings at Virginia Tech and the bombing at the Boston Marathon.

                Fr. John Dunlop, St. Herman’s Seminary dean, who encouraged Larson to go to New Orleans, said that Kristopolos “expressed a lot of interest in working with the seminary in its substance abuse training. I’m excited about a growing partnership (between IOCC) and the local church community.”

Participation in the IOCC is “extremely helpful to us,” Dunlop said. “For students, it’s an incredible opportunity to see the wider church. (Through the humanitarian trip to New Orleans) Alex got to meet seminarians from other schools” such as St. Vladimir’s, St. Tikhon’s and Holy Cross Seminaries.

“That’s a positive thing for our students – to see that there is a larger world out there, an Orthodox world as well that we can connect with. There’s a side of partnering with these larger Orthodox organizations which is helpful to our mission financially and spiritually,” Dunlop said, noting that the OCMC, which shares IOCC’s vision to minister throughout the world, would like to fund students to do mission work outside of the US.

“They are interested in helping our students go to Africa, Mongolia, some different area, where they may be able to be effective in global missions,” Dunlop said.

As Dunlop listed the names of places where IOCC and OCMC volunteers get involved, Larson’s face expressed the excitement of an eager servant who sees ministering in the needy places, not something to avoid, but to dive into with a willing heart and a helping hand.



ARTICLE - With tool in hands, Alex Larson works at the New Orleans site.(Courtesy of Alex Larson)

CERTIFICATE – As second-year student, Alex Larsen receives certificate of studies from Alaska bishop, Fr. David Mahaffey. (Courtesy of Mike Rostad)

STUDENT - Fall 2014 Student Photo (Courtesy of Lauren Hamlett)

All Saint's Party

Saint Herman Seminary Celebrates 2014 All Saints Day - 10/31/14

This “saintly” party was accompanied by a one-of-a-kind “orange food” pot-luck that included orangish-colored salmon, orange carrot cakes, orange-colored orange juice, orange-looking oranges, orange-colored Doritos, orange-colored pumpkins, orange-tasting jello, and orange-covered KFC. The pumpkin carving competition yielded two winners – Alex Larson (carved St. Herman) and Triston Simeonoff (carved Orthodox Cross). Each child presented a Saint whose identity was deciphered by the Seminary’s “panel of experts.” Everybody won by gaining more knowledge of Saints’ Lives. The party ended with the communal feeding of doughnuts to the blind-folded children.

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Church Slavonic Class

St. Herman’s Seminary Offers a Weekly Class of Church Slavonic for Community Members - 11/05/14

The main audience of the class is Kodiak Elders – they grew up listening to church hymns in Church Slavonic, most of them grew up in Russian-speaking households and some of them even went to Kodiak’s Russian School. The goal of the class it to learn (or relearn) the Cyrillic alphabet and be able to read and write in it. Class starts with Russian tea ceremony during which students share their memories related to Russian language and culture. Class ends with the singing of church hymns and prayers in Church Slavonic.

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Seminarian Ordained Deacon

Subdeacon Joseph Larson ordained to the Holy Diaconate - 10/19/14

Seminarian Joseph Larson was ordained a Deacon at this year’s Alaskan Diocesan Assembly which met in Anchorage on October 18 and 19.  Deacon Joseph and Matushka Sophia are from the village of Akiachak which is on the Kuskokwim River.  Deacon Joseph and Matushka Sophia have four children: Christina, Alexandra, Alexander and Sophia.   Deacon Joseph joins four other brothers who serve as clergy in the Diocese of Alaska.  May God grant Deacon Joseph, Matushka Sophia and their family many years!

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Meet our new students!

Welcome back to Seminary - 09/02/14

Orientation for the 2014-2015 school year began on Sept 2; both new and returning students are settling into the cycle of classes and worship at the seminary, gaining practical ministry experience at Holy Resurrection Cathedral in the areas of Altar service, singing in the choir, and teaching church school. This year we welcomed three new students. As we grow together in community we look forward to a new year of training future clergy and laity for “the work of ministry” (Eph. 4:12) in Alaska. This year we also welcomed a new faculty member, Heiromonk Fr. Phanourios, into the role of chaplain. Fr. Phanourios is a graduate from St. Tikhon’s Seminary and has spent the past several years doing mission work in South Asia and the South Pacific. He will be teaching Church History, Greek, and Spirituality.  

Read details about our students by clicking the "Students" section on the left hand side of this page.

Also, please keep in touch with daily happenings by "liking" St. Herman Seminary on Facebook:

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St. Herman mourns the loss of graduate, Fr. Yago Steven

Memory Eternal - 08/10/14

St. Herman mourns the loss of graduate Fr. Yago Steven. Fr. Vasilly Fisher, Dean of the Kuskokwim deanery, wrote the following about Fr. Yago:
“Fr. Yago was one of the first graduates of St. Herman’s Seminary along with his classmate Fr. Phillip Alexie.  He was a 1978 graduate of Saint Herman’s Seminary and ordained to the diaconate and priesthood in 1996 and 1999 respectively. During his priesthood, he served in the rural Alaskan communities of Bethel, Kasigluk, Kwigillingok, and Napaskiak.”
The Diocese of Alaska and St. Herman Seminary keeps Fr. Yago and his family in their prayers. May his memory be eternal!

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44th Annual St. Herman Pilgrimage

Celebration of the Glorification of St. Herman - 08/07/14

The 44th annual St. Herman pilgrimage took place this year between August 7-10.   His Grace, Bishop David of Sitka and Alaska was joined by  His Grace, Bishop Job of Kashira, Vicar of the Moscow Diocese, Administrator of the Moscow Patriarchate in Canada.  The Hierarchs joined local Orthodox as well as pilgrims and clergy from throughout the U.S. and Canada for the annual event celebrating the glorification of St. Herman of Alaska.  Highlights of the pilgrimage included services, warm fellowship, singing and meals at Monk’s Rock Coffee House, and festal banquet at the Afognak Native Corporation.  Pilgrims were also given a fascinating account of the glorification services of 1970 with visiting Archpriest Nicholas Molodyko-Harris.  Due to foggy and windy weather, pilgrims were able to gather at Monk’s Lagoon on Spruce Island the evening of August 9.  We hope that many more pilgrims will be inspired to attend this annual celebration!

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Seminarian Ordained a Deacon

Seminarian Ordained to the Holy Diaconate - 08/08/14

On Friday, August 8th Subdeacon John Kudrin a fourth year seminarian was ordained to the Holy Diaconate by His Grace, Bishop David of Sitka and Alaska with His Grace, Bishop Job of Kashira, Vicar of the Moscow Diocese, Patriarchal Bishop of Canada concelebrating the Divine Liturgy.  The ordination took place on the feast of St. Yakov (Netsvetov) Enlightener and Baptizer of the Native Peoples of Alaska.  This year marks the 150th anniversary of St. Yakov’s repose.  Providentially, the Kudrin family are Aleuts from Atka where St. Yakov also ministered for many years.  Deacon John’s wife, Matushka Anna, is also a student at St. Herman’s Seminary.  May God grant Deacon John, Matushka Anna, and their families many years!

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Seminary Hosts OCMC Village Teams

Teams visit Old Harbor and Ouzinkie - 07/25/14

During the week of July 21-25 St. Herman Seminary hosted two OCMC teams which ministered in the Kodiak Island villages of Ouzinkie and Old Harbor. OCMC, Fr. Achilles Karathanos, and Dean Fr. John Dunlop held youth activities, arts and crafts, and catechism sessions at the annual St. Peter the Aleut Youth Camp in Ouzinkie. The Old Harbor team also sponsored activities and religious educational sessions with youth and elders. The teams were also blessed to hold village services with the visiting myrrh-streaming Hawaii Iveron Icon. Both teams enjoyed blessed and fruitful weeks.

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Seminary hosts OCMC mission team

East coast mission team completes projects around the seminary - 06/25/14

On June 25, St. Herman Seminary had the privilege of hosting a team of mostly students sent by the Orthodox Christian Mission center (OCMC).  The group included members of two churches--Holy Trinity Church (Egg Harbor Township, NJ) and St. George Greek Orthodox Church (Media, PA) and were led by Fr. George Liacopulos, priest of Holy Trinity and president of OCMC's Board of Directors.  The team accomplished various maintenance tasks at the seminary and led a Vacation Church School at Holy Resurrection Cathedral on the topic of summer feast days.  The team also venerated the relics of St. Herman, made a pilgrimage to Spruce Island, visited St. Innocent's Academy, and had the opportunity to enjoy hiking around the island.  It was a joy to have a team that did such good work here on Kodiak. 

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Seminary Receives Special Visitor

Russian Orthodox Bishop PANTELEIMON visits SHS - 06/23/14

His Grace Bishop Panteleimon of Orekhovo-Zuyevo, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Ministry is visiting St. Herman Seminary from June 23-26. His Grace celebrated the Akathist to St. Herman and hosted a meal for local clergy. Vladyka Panteleimon visited the diocesan archives and will make pilgrimage to Monk's Lagoon and the village of Ouzinkie before departing for San Francisco. 

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41st Anniversary Commencement

2013-2014 School Year Comes to a Close - 05/11/14

We would like to extend a big congradulations to our three graduating seniors and our three new readers who were awarded diplomas and certificates last weekend.

Our graduates are Fr. Simeon Askoak, Fr. Jason Isaac, and Dn. Michael Trefon. 
Those awarded reader certificates are Luke Levi, Mary Madsen, and Alexander Larson.

In addition to those in attendance at the ceremony were three alumni-- Fr. Nicolai Isaac, Fr. Thomas Andrew, and Fr. Michael Fredericks. Our chaplain, Fr. Juvenaly Repass, was asked to give a special reflection on his six years of service at our seminary as he will be leaving soon to do mission work.

A special thank you to our good friend, Mike Rostad, for the photographs!

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