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Interview with Fr. Josiah Trenham

Adult Education: Building on the Foundation of Faith
The Orthodox Institute 2015

Interview with Fr. Josiah Trenham, core presenter
By Fr. Christopher Rigden-Briscall

It is a joy to introduce Fr. Josiah Trenham. Many know him from his homilies on Ancient Faith, his work the Assembly of Bishops and the work he done with Patristic Nectar Publications. I am thankful that I can call him a dear brother and friend. I had a chance to catch up with Fr. Josiah and talk about this year's Orthodox Institute. Here is some of our conversation.

Fr. Christopher: Tell me Father what do you think of subject matter of this year's Orthodox Institute, Adult Education?

Fr. Josiah: There is no better subject for a conference. The fact is that so many Orthodox are disconnected from our faith. And they are living in the midst of a progressive satanic catechism and with the constant seductions of false knowledge. If we as priests and bishops and the other leaders in the Church don't educate ourselves and throw ourselves into the process of educating the people we have no hope. Looking at the other Christian bodies that are dying we see that these are churches that are being formed by the culture around them and conformed to it. We now have data about our Orthodox Church. The PEW Foundation recently released a study (from 2007-2014) that gives us data about our people. The Orthodox numbers show that we are very secularized. Many of our young people are following the teaching of the world about sexuality and abortion.

Fr. Christopher: What are you looking forward to share with us?

Fr. Josiah: Three things. The first is how each priest needs a commitment to catechize himself and evangelize himself. The fact is that our priests are often tyrannized by the needs of pastoral care. I am going to offer a model of what priests can do based on Ezra 7:10. Study—practice—then teach... Give time to study 1 hour every day with the door closed, a devotion to pray for the vision of the parish, an opportunity to reach out to God and ask Him to send us people and THEN to have something to give them when they come. If we have nothing to offer visitors then why would God send them? And vice versa!

That brings us to the Catechism. I will be establishing a paradigm and offer the example of a traditional catechism program with two sets of classes offered: one by the priest in a non-Sunday venue, and one weekly by a team of lay catechists after the Liturgy of the Catechumens on Sundays in the hall while the Liturgy of the Faithful is offered. We will discuss the curriculum we have gathered together and created and how we engage Lay People in the process; how we offer practical lessons on creating a prayer corner in the home, how to eat during lent, how to bake prosphora, and so on.

Fr. Christopher: Can you say something about the small parish or mission experience?

Fr. Josiah: My catechism plan can be done by all churches no matter the size and context even one or two laymen, even if it is once a month. We will discuss how all of this can apply and how you simply need to build up as you go. It is about continuing education. For almost 20 years in my parish we have been running what I call the "St John Chrysostom Catechetical School," every Wednesday evening. We offer 10 week courses with 3 week breaks in between throughout the year- every year. We call our selves disciples. The Greek word μαθητής (pronounced maath-ee-tees') means pupil or student - someone who learns. Christ is our teacher. How do we prove that if we are not studying in His church?

Fr. Christopher: Father can you talk a bit about how some of this relates to your Ministry with Ancient Faith and Patristic Nectar Publications?

Fr. Josiah: My work with Ancient Faith and PNP came out of this work. I am thankful that we are able to have others join us in this work. Great teachers of our Church. We have Fr Irenaeus (Steenberg) Fr Maximos (Costas) and I hope that we will soon have Fr. Zacharias (Zacharou) and others. These are lectures over and above of the catechetical lectures. Also we are about to upload a ten part series on the Apocalypse. Another project is putting the Philokalia into an audio version. Our purpose is to get material into the hands of our people who no longer read much but rather watch and listen.

Fr. Christopher: Is there anything else you would like to say to people who are trying to decide if they should come?

Fr. Josiah: Educating our selves and becoming better educators is a sharing in our Lord's ministry and I don't think that there are things that please Him much more then this.