March 22, 2007 : His Grace Bishop THOMAS spoke at St. Tikon's Orthodox Seminary
On Thursday, March 22, 2007, His Grace, the Right Reverend Thomas, Bishop of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic, presented an informal talk with the seminarians of St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania. The subject of His Grace's talk was the priesthood, organized loosely around a discussion of the holy mysteries (sacraments). Sayidna Thomas shared from his experience as a parish priest and also as a bishop, emphasizing that the priest's purpose is to bring the Kingdom of God to people, especially in the sacraments, and that administrative work is at best only a secondary part of the priesthood. Sayidna also placed a special emphasis on the priest working out his own salvation as being the primary component of his ministry.
On Thursday evening, His Grace visited St. Mary's Antiochian Orthodox Church in Wilkes-Barre, joining the people there for their weekly spaghetti dinner. The following evening, Friday the 23rd, Sayidna returned to St. Mary's to celebrate the final Akathist (Madayeh) service to the Theotokos appointed for Lent of 2007. Sayidna was joined by a number of the seminarians from St. Tikhon's, who with the people chanted the hymns to the Mother of God, primarily in English but with a few selections repeated in Arabic. The Rev. Andrew Stephen Damick, a third-year M.Div. seminarian at St. Tikhon's, served as the priest, chanting with Sayidna Thomas the akathist hymn itself.
The following Saturday morning, March 24th, the Forefeast of the Annunciation, at the Monastery Church of St. Tikhon adjacent to the seminary, His Grace celebrated the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy.
During the liturgy, Sayidna ordained the Rev. Dcn. David Alan Moretti to the holy priesthood. Concelebrating at the liturgy were clergy from the monastic brotherhood, along with priests and deacons from the seminary student body and Archpriest John R. Steffaro of Campbell, Ohio, representing both the Antiochian and OCA jurisdictions. Fr.
John and Hieromonk Gabriel (Nicholas), a member of the monastic community, served as Dcn. David's sponsors into the priesthood. The liturgy itself represented a combination and blending of Antiochian and OCA practices, performed ably by the clergy and the seminary choir, under the direction of Monk Sergius (Bowyer).
Like Sayidna Thomas, the Rev. David Alan Moretti is a native of New Jersey. He graduated in 1989 with a B.A. in Religious Studies from Wooster College in Wooster, Ohio. After graduation from college, Fr.
David spent a year studying at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, where he served as an associate pastor at Glendora Friends Church (Quaker) in Glendora, California. At Fuller, he met Fr. Samuel Gantt, the Greek professor, who introduced Fr. David to Orthodox Christianity. In April of 1990, Fr. David and his wife Diane were chrismated into the Orthodox Church, having been married the month before. Upon leaving Protestant seminary, Fr. David worked mainly in various sales positions in California and later in Ohio.
In November of 1992, Fr. David was made a subdeacon by His Grace, Bishop Antoun (Khouri), and from 1994 to 1998, Fr. David served as the Western Region Youth Director for the Antiochian Archdiocese. In 1998, his family, now including two children, Anthony and Sofia, moved to Canfield, Ohio, where they were active at St. Mark's parish in Youngstown until 2005, when they came to St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary. On the Sunday of Orthodoxy in 2006, His Grace Bishop Mark (Maymon) of Toledo and the Midwest ordained Fr. David to the diaconate at St. Mark's. Fr. David is a second year seminarian in the Master of Divinity program, and he lives with his family, Khourieh Diane, Anthony (12) and Sofia (9) in Carbondale, Pennsylvania.