Your Eminence, fellow clergy, and beloved parishioners,
It is with joy and awe that I enter my new life in the holy priesthood, which is a great honour and an even greater responsibility. In his classic work, On the Priesthood, St. John Chrysostom emphasizes the priest’s role as a shepherd to his flock. He needs, “great wisdom and a thousand eyes to examine each soul’s condition from every angle” so that he can, “apply all his remedies appropriately.” This is a challenge every presbyter must take up. I pray that I will be able to fulfill this awesome burden as Our Lord Jesus Christ commanded His Apostles to, “Feed my sheep.” With God’s help, I hope to prove worthy of this sacred trust that has been given to me.
My journey to this day began when I was a young boy in Ukraine. I loved attending church services and dreamed of one day being a deacon. This wish was not realized until I came to the United States and met Fr. Alexander, who became my spiritual father. As if he were reading my mind, he asked me one day if I wanted to become a deacon and of course I accepted immediately. My years serving in the holy diaconate were very spiritually rewarding. As I became more familiar with the theological teaching and liturgical traditions of our Orthodox Church, my desire to serve God became greater. When Fr. Alexander asked me if I wanted to become a priest, I felt the time was right. I am greatly blessed that I had the support of my beloved wife Elena and my family, which allowed me to make this decision. I am grateful for the encouragement and support I received from our Vicar Archimandrite Alexander, our warden Ivan and my fellow clergy at the Cathedral of St. John the Forerunner & Baptist. I have also been inspired by our Archbishop Elpidophoros’ example of true pastorship as well as that of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who greatly impressed me on our visit to Constantinople last year.
Following Our Lord’s instructions, I intend to take care of my flock and be true to the holy office I now enter. I ask you all to pray for me to find the spiritual strength and wisdom to do so.
July 10, 2021, St. John the Forerunner Cathedral in Brooklyn (New York)