Eastern Diocese Seminar on The Crisis of Marriage in Today’s Society
His Grace Bishop Dr. Mitrophan is committed to continued education seminars for clergy of the Eastern American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Seminars have been held for clergy on a regular basis since at least October 1993 when +Very Re v. Stavrofor Dr. Nedeljko Grgurevich was the featured speaker.
The topics and speakers at the seminars have focused on the priesthood, issues concerning parish life and advancing the Gospel of Christ. Ecumenism, Holy Confession, cremation, abortion, prisons ministries, marriage and family life, medical ethics, organ donation, church music, church history, missions and Svetosavjle in North America have been among the various topics. Clergy from with the Serbian Orthodox Church as well as from the Greek Orthodox and Antiochian Orthodox Churches have been featured speakers.
Since 2008, the seminars have been held at the Most Holy Mother of God Monastery, in Shadeland. The completion of the monastery church and upgrading of dormitory facilities at St. Sava Camp provide an excellent atmosphere conducive for the holding of seminars.
The seminar this year was held on November 12-13, 2012. The schedule began with Vespers on Monday evening, a dinner and then a period discussion.
The theme for the seminar was “The Crisis of Marriage in Today’s Society.” The featured speaker was Very Rev. Dr. Alexandar Atty, Dean of St.Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.
During the discussion period of Monday evening, Father Atty described his experiences as a parish priest in Kentucky. He was in the same parish for a period of thirty years. The parish grew from an initial two hundred to a thousand parishioners. Church services were held on a daily basis. A wide range of ministry programs including residential were located on the church property that eventually grew to have a campus with twelve buildings.
On Tuesday morning, Matins began early and was followed by the Hours and the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. During the liturgy, His Grace Bishop Dr.MITROPHAN ordained Protodeacon Milan Medakovich as a presbyter. The newly ordained Father Milan was overjoyed. Father Milan has served in many different parishes, at Monastery Marcha, the Monastery of the Most Holy Mother of God and St. Nikodim Chapel during the long period of his service as a deacon. This was the second ordination since the completion of the monastery church. Clergy in attendance sharing in the joy of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and ordination represented parishes from six different states. Seven priests served with His Grace in addition to Father Medakovich. Priests in attendance along with Milovan Jovanovic and Milan Damjanovic sang the responses.
Father Atty’s featured presentation took place after the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. The Diocesan clergy assembled with His Grace Bishop Dr. MITROPHAN and listened with great attentiveness as the speaker addressed the crisis of marriage in contemporary life. Father Atty spoke about the priest being married to his wife and to his parish. He described the Bishop as being married to the Diocese. Love was emphasized as the basic factor in the life of the priest in the home and in the parish. Father Atty cited the great importance necessary in reaching out to non-Orthodox spouses in mixed marriages. The high divorce rate in this country and the necessity of reaching out to young people especially those in college received due attention in the presentation.
Father Atty identified stresses in marriage including finances, illness and job loss. Internet use was described as a source of problems for some marriages. Father Atty emphasized preparation for marriage with couples. Couples planning to marry need to focus on the Church’s understanding of marriage and life in the Church not simply on externals of the wedding ceremony. Couples living together prior to marriage and the unacceptability of same –sex marriage were also issues discussed. The speaker said the priest is to set an example. Numerous times during the talk Father Atty gave great credit to his wife for her helpfulness to him. Father Atty said the priest’s job is to make people holy and love is the main ingredient of the priesthood. Father Atty was applauded at the conclusion of his presentation.
Diocesan Clergy attending the seminar in addition to the newly ordained Father Milan Medakovich included: Father Dragoljub Malich, Father Stevan Stepanov, Father Dragan Filipovic, Archimandrite Leontije(Alvana), Father Rastko Trbuhovich, Father Rade Merick ,Father Vladimir Demshuck, Father Stevo Rocknage, Father Djordje Melieusnic, Father Rodney Torbic, Father Milan Krstic, Father Aleksandar Vlajkovic, Father Rajko Kosic, Father Djokan Mastorovic, Father Zivojin Jakovljevic, Father Milovan Katanic, Father Dejan Obradovic,Father Milorad Orlic, Father Mijoljub Matic, Father Isak Kisin, Father Milan Pajic, Father Dragan Zaric, Father Dragoslav Kosic, Father Dragan Goronjic and Father Christopher Rocknage. Father Daniel Rohan attended the seminar as did seminarians: Reader Gabriel Monfork, Jesse Dominick, Paul McDonald and Michael Lillie. Protinica Victoria Trbuhovich accompanied Father Rastko Trbuhovich from Lackawanna, New York. Father Dragan Zaric’s family accompanied him from Johnstown, Pennsylvania including Popadija Zaric and their two young sons.
A selection of books and items from the Diocesan bookstore were available for the clergy.
His Grace was very grateful and warmly thanked Archpriest Dr. Atty for his presentation. His Grace also was very appreciative for the Diocesan clergy for coming to the seminar, the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and for being together at the dinner. His Grace expressed gratitude to the highly dedicated Kolo members Martha Springborn and Sonia Janson for preparing the plentiful food for the seminar. The clergy joined in applause for Martha and Sonia. Protinica Trbuhovich assisted the Kolo members with the meals and she, too, was thanked for her assistance. The Eastern and Region Kolo Federation with President Millie Radovick and Vice-President Dee Dee Baskot has provided the meals for the seminars since they have been held at Shadeland. Shadeland Caretaker Scott and Lorrie Felix were on hand to make sure the facilities were ready for the seminar attendees and were available for assistance when needed.
Clergy representing parishes in seven states were in attendance and found the seminar to be beneficial.
In concluding remarks, His Grace identified the family as the nucleus. His Grace said the clergy need to continue to proclaim the Gospel teachings about marriage along with the understanding of marriage according to Holy Apostle Paul and the Holy Fathers of the Church.
Father Rodney Torbic