2021 Holy Cross Diaconate Program
Online and in person
By Reverend Dn. Salvatore Michael Fazio
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the Diaconate Program was able to hold its annual summer session in 2021, completing its fifteenth consecutive year of service to the Church in training future deacons to build up the body of Christ. Normally, the program for the diaconate holds a nine-day summer session on the Holy Cross campus, where first, second and third year candidates of the diaconate participate in education and training courses to prepare for possible future ordination. At the end of the summer session, candidates then return to their parishes and continue to be mentored by their priests and hierarchs through the program structure and various diaconal and regional workshops. Following the struggles of the past year, we have put in place a more robust program experience for the theological and spiritual training of candidates in 2021.
The program for the diaconate began in 2005, when the Eparchial Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America asked the Faculty of Holy Cross to create a program to train deacons to assist the clergy in their duties. parish and meet the needs of the Metropolises. In 2007, Sainte-Croix registered its first candidates. Since then, around 150 applicants have enrolled in the program. Of these, 83 have completed the program, 45 have been ordained diaconate, and 27 are currently eligible candidates for ordination at various stages of the process of receiving the blessing from the Church to be ordained diaconate. The majority of applicants enrolled or having completed the program are men from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, although applicants from the Orthodox Church of America and the Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America have also completed the program and been ordained by their Hierarchs.
In 2021, a total of 34 applicants were enrolled in different stages of the program and participated in the summer online session. The 34 candidates all demonstrated their dedication to fulfilling their call to serve Christ and his Church through the holy diaconate. They also took the opportunity to join Fellowship events and Metropolis Regional Group events and workshops held throughout the year, in person and online.
The Diaconate of Holy Cross program has now adapted to offer three online courses and several online and in-person opportunities from the Metropolis Fellowship and the regional group for retreats, workshops and continuing education for all applicants as well. as alumni of the Diploma Program.
Here are the 2021 Diaconate Program online and in-person events (those that have taken place and those that are planned):
February 13: Diaconate program for Valentine’s Day – an opportunity for fellowship, as well as an examination of the role of a deacon in a reading service offered by the guest speaker, Reverend Dn. Guillaume Leogas.
May 26: Zoom call for HCHC Clergy Mentors. All current candidate mentors have been invited to hear program updates for 2021 and share their feedback on the program.
May 29: Zoom call for the regional director of the Diaconate program. All current leaders of the DP Metropolis regional group, blessed by their respective Hierarchs, have agreed to host regional events in person and / or online for summer, fall, winter and spring.
June 5: The summer 2021 session began with a virtual videoconference with a lamb BBQ. The evening program welcomed back alumni of the Diploma Program and all new and returning applicants. The BBQ was a great success, with over 60 participants.
June 7-11: First academic DP course offered (online): Vespers, Matins and Liturgy taught by Fr. Philippe Zymaris.
June 21-25: The second academic DP course offered (online): Pastoral Care taught by Dr Philip Mamalakis.
July 12-16: The Third and Final DP Academic Course (Online): Orthodox Spirituality Taught by His Eminence Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh. The fact that His Eminence spent a week with the candidates, as he did in 2009, was greatly appreciated by all.
July 20: Zoom call from the San Francisco / Chicago regional summer group with guest speaker Archdeacon Vasilios Smith of Chicago on the topic of hierarchical liturgies.
July 27: Opening of the regional summer group’s Zoom call in San Francisco with guest speaker Dr Eugenia Constantinou on “Thinking Orthodox.” His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco joined the call and offered words of encouragement to the participants.
July 28: Zoom call for third year applicants, which allowed them to share their thoughts and feedback on the possibility of meeting their first year at HCHC in person and then having to go through program adaptations related to the pandemic to the over the past two years.
July 31: Zoom call for first year candidates, which allowed them to get to know their classmates better and give their opinion on the courses.
July 31: Zoom call to second year candidates to reflect on two years of online classes and look back on their second year diaconal formation journey and classes.
August 19-22: Retreat of the HCHC / Boston regional group. Hosted by HCHC DP staff, Dr James Skedros, Rev. Dn. Salvatore Fazio and Boston regional leaders, Reverend Dn. Gary Kent and Reverend Dn. John Vaporis. Bro. Peter Chamberas and Fr. Chris Foustoukos gave encouraging speeches to the participants and celebrated Vespers, Matins and the Divine Liturgy. The retreat hosted several regional leaders of the DP, including Reverend Dn. Anastaci Hallas (Direct Archdiocesan District), Rev. Dn. Daniel Cunningham (San Francisco) and Reverend Dn. Vassili Yacalis (Detroit). The retreat was a great success giving Diploma Program professors, guest speakers, past deacons, past candidates, current candidates and their spouses an opportunity for continuing education and to share a roast lamb and a diaconal purse. Certificates of completion for third year graduate candidates present were presented at the end of the Divine Liturgy. Guest speakers at the retreat included Fr. Peter Chamberas, who spoke about the life of Bishop Gerasimos of Abydos, Dr Aristotle Papanikolaou, who offered a focused lecture and reflections on the theme of Jesus’ prayer , Dr Philip Mamalakis and Fr Chris Foustoukos, who led a joint presentation on pastoral care, and Fr Andrew Giouralis, who spoke about diaconal chaplaincy and pastoral care today in a pandemic world.
Regional diaconate groups continue to be planned and are posted on the HCHC diaconate website. Here are the upcoming events in the calendar so far:
September 28-30: Metropolis of Atlanta Fellowship Group with His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios
October 12-15: National APC Clergy Retreat, open to ordained deacons
November 5-7: Retreat of the San Francisco Metropolitan Community with His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos
The diaconate program is under the direction of the Holy Eparchial Synod and the Faculty of Holy Cross and aims to provide parishes with qualified deacons who can help meet the liturgical and pastoral needs of a community. Ordained graduates of the program are under the omophorion of their local metropolitan. The program gives those called to serve in the Church as deacons the opportunity to be trained and tested as they discern their calling. The program is for the holy diaconate; those with a call to the priesthood are encouraged to enroll in the Master of Divinity program at Holy Cross.
By the grace of God, the Program continues to grow and, by its will, continues to nourish those who feel a call to the holy diaconate in the Orthodox Church. For more information on the diaconate program, please visit the program website at https://www.hchc.edu/certificate-programs/diaconate-program/, or e-mail Dn. Sal Fazio, Director of Outreach for the Diaconate Program, at [email protected].
PHOTO: Metropolis of Boston Retreat, August 19-22, 2021, at St. Methodios Faith and Heritage Center, Contoocook, NH