Antiochian seminarian Matthew Howell writes:
To His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP,
All the Right Reverend Bishops of our Archdiocese,
Mr. Daniel Abraham, the members of the governing council North American Officers, all the Diocesan officers, and all the members of the Order of St. Ignatius:
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
As we continue preparing ourselves for the incarnation of our Savior, and as we celebrate the joyous feast of St. Nicholas of Myra, we are reminded over and over again that Advent is not only a time of Christmas shopping, house decorating, or cookie baking. It is a time of giving and a time of thanksgiving. We give of our time, treasure, and talent in order to enliven our church and family lives, and we thoughtfully thank God for his many wonderful blessings in our lives.
As a second-year married seminarian at St. Tikhon Orthodox Theological Seminary, I just received the first half of my yearly gift from the Order of St. Ignatius. I thank God for the blessing you all have bestowed upon me and my family, undeserving though I am of your generosity. Last year I received a letter from the Order at this same time of year and opening it simultaneously with one of my fellow Antiochian classmates. We both gasped in shock at your kindness toward us. I will never forget his words: "Now we can pay for heat for the rest of the winter." I am writing to you today to tell you that your gift matters.
I thank God that I am well-supported by my extended family and home parish, as well as by the Archdiocese, the Order of St. Ignatius, and the Antiochian Women. Seminary life is difficult--it is truly a hard-fought spiritual battle--but knowing that people care enough about us to send us a yearly gift of $1,500 brings tears to our eyes and smiles to our faces. Due to all the driving we do each year, my wife and I will use this money to pay for our gas for 6 months. Or we can use it to buy a year's worth of diapers and wipes for our two children who are still in diapers. Either way, the money will not be wasted, nor will the donors be forgotten in our prayers.
Please be assured that your gift matters to the seminarians. Please be assured that we are trying our best to acquire the Holy Spirit so that we may better serve Christ's Church for the next several decades. Please be assured that we are fully invested in getting everything out of our seminary experience as possible. And please be assured of our sincere gratitude for your continued prayers and support.
May you find peace, joy, and salvation during this Advent season, and may you rejoice with the angels in a short time when we all proclaim "Christ is Born! Glorify Him!"
Sincerely Yours in Christ,