The Seminary choir travelled to Washington, DC, during the first weekend in March, with the blessing of Archimandrite Luke, Rector, and at the invitation of Mitred Archpriest Victor Potapov, Rector of St John the Baptist Cathedral in DC. The choir sang the responses during both the English and Church Slavonic Divine Liturgies under the direction of Deacon Nicholas Kotar, Seminary Choir Director and Lecturer in Church Music. Priest Ephraim Willmarth, Asst. Dean and Director of Admissions, and Deacon Michael Pavuk, Director of Development, led the delegation, which was accompanied by Dr. Vitaly Permiakov, Asst. Professor of Dogmatic and Liturgical Theology.
The delegation departed from Jordanville on Saturday at 5:45 am, much earlier than initially scheduled, to fulfill a special labor of love en-route to DC. Peter Stchur, long time starosta of Christ the Savior Russian Orthodox Church in Sugar Notch, PA, had reposed in the Lord several days earlier. Upon learning of his repose, and that the family was attempting to assemble several singers from neighboring parishes to sing the responses at the funeral, the Seminary administration decided that our Seminary choir, including Priest Ephraim Willmarth, needed to assist. Peter’s and his parish’s personal connection to Holy Trinity Monastery and Seminary was long-standing. In addition, the choir’s travel route was only one-quarter mile from the church.
The choir arrived in DC for the bi-lingual All-Night Vigil sung by the Cathedral’s two choirs antiphonally. The Seminary choir sang “Queen of the Heavenly Hosts” at the conclusion of the First Hour. After a sumptuous Lenten meal hosted by Matushka Maria Potapov and the parish sisterhood, His Eminence Metropolitan Jonah sat with our seminarians for several hours and answered questions about their future work in the Church.
On Sunday morning, the Seminary choir sang the responses at both the English and Church Slavonic Divine Liturgies. The singers included 4th year students Reader Seth Davidenko, Reader George Luimes and Reader Christian Watts, 2nd year student James Racz, and 1st year students Ivan Gryaznov and Reader Evan Nalitov. Priest Ephraim Willmarth, joined the choir for both services and delivered the sermon at the English Liturgy. Deacon Michael Pavuk assisted during the English Divine Liturgy. During the festive meals after both services, Deacon Michael spoke to the faithful about the Seminary’s progress and plans for the Master of Divinity degree program expected to commence in Fall 2018 after approval by the New York State Board of Regents.
Before the return trip to Jordanville on Sunday afternoon, Professor Permiakov hosted a tour of the Byzantine collection at Harvard University’s Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection for the entire delegation. That collection includes ecclesiastical, imperial, and cultural art, books, and other objects from the Byzantine Empire (AD 330-1453).