We begin our days early at Christ the Saviour Seminary before most of the lights are on in the surrounding neighborhood of the West End of Johnstown, PA. Divine Liturgy is celebrated in the Seminary Chapel of the Three Holy Hierarchs, three days per week beginning with the Hours at 6:45 AM . On days when the Liturgy is not celebrated, the Hours are chanted beginning at 7:30 AM. This is followed by a light breakfast which generally consists of orange juice, coffee, toast, cereal, oatmeal, and fruit. Breakfast is a calm meal with little chatter and some days we are joined by our diocesan Bishop, His Grace, Bishop Gregory. This opportunity to interact with our bishop and gain valuable pastoral insight is truly a blessing, and underscores the commitment of Christ the Saviour Seminary to prepare its students to be pastorally prudent laborers for the Church.
Breakfast usually concludes around 8:30 AM and this leaves a little bit of time to check our email or get some last minute studies in before class begins promptly at 9:00 AM. Professors reside on campus, in the Johnstown area, or travel in from Pittsburgh and as far away as Warren, Ohio. Every other Monday morning we receive a visit from our spiritual father and are given the opportunity to receive the sacrament of Penance. Outside of his visits, Monday morning is usually set aside for cleaning and maintaining the seminary kitchen, chapel and common areas. Monday afternoon is spent in the classroom studying liturgical music and mastering our Diocesan Carpatho-Rusyn Plain Chant (Prostopinije).
Tuesday through Thursday the day is spent in classroom instruction, with the first class of the day beginning at 9:00 AM and running until 11:30 AM. Fridays are set aside as work and study days. At 11:45 AM, after a short break, the students congregate in the Chapel for the chanting of the Magnificat. This is truly one of the highlights of the day, where we sing praises in honor of the Most-holy Mother of God and seek her holy protection.
Each day at 12:00 PM we meet for lunch in the refectory, which is adorned with beautifully written icons. After offering the prayers before the noon meal, we sit down to enjoy a delicious lunch which is served by our talented cook who feeds us well. At 1:00 PM , having given thanks to God in prayer, we reconvene in the classroom for the second class of the day. Classes for the day conclude at 3:30 PM. We then have a little time to prepare for Daily Vespers which begin at 4:00 PM. Following Vespers, we again return to the refectory for another delicious meal. Following dinner we are given time for work, study, or free-time. Students usually congregate in the seminary library to complete their studies, where internet access is available. When we have finished our studies for the day, we can relax in the basement recreation room making use of the exercise equipment or watch television.
Sometimes in the evening we can be found in the Chapel praying the Akathist to some of our favorite modern saints. Our day ends in the quiet of our personal icon corners, as we thank God for the blessings we have received and ask for a peaceful and restful sleep.
Recognizing the value of "practical theology" we are given the opportunity to take on servant and leadership roles within the life of the community. By fulfilling the many and various obedience's given to us, we are given a taste of the practical aspects of parish management and service.
In addition to our monthly cleaning responsibilities we also have our weekly rotating jobs around the seminary. The O.O. (Overseer of Order) is in charge of setting the table and leading prayer prior to all meals as well as in the classroom. He is truly the man who keeps order in the house for the week as he handles all phone calls and prepares for any visitors. The Cantor and Assistant Cantor are to prepare all services for the week, singing the appropriate music in our beautiful Plain Chant or Prostopinije for all seasons of the year. This is an important learning process in the development of all priests. There is also a Dishwasher and Assistant Dishwasher who wash all dishes after meals for the week. And there is also the Acolyte who serves alongside the priest at all services. In this role, the seminarian is given an opportunity to study from close vantage point, the liturgical actions of the priest.
Some of the seminarians take part in work-study programs. Housed within the seminary is the Gloria Incense Company which was founded by +Metropolitan Nicholas over thirty years ago. The students who assist with the incense production business, not only produce Gloria Incense in its three unique blends, but also are responsible for packaging and shipping it to its customers which are located throughout the world. Another student is also put in charge of the Seminary Bookstore. This entails shipping and stocking of all merchandise which is sold in the seminary bookstore.
The weekends at Christ the Saviour Seminary are filled with many enjoyable experiences. Some of the students are called away on travels with the Bishop. They are given the chance to visit all the parishes of the diocese which stretches from Connecticut to Chicago and Ottawa to Florida and everywhere in between. The time that is spent travelling with His Grace, Bishop Gregory is an invaluable learning experience. Not only are they exposed to parish life in the diocese, but also they have the opportunity to receive impromptu instructions and pastoral wisdom from His Grace during the many hours spent travelling. The students who stay at Christ the Saviour will rise on Saturday morning to chant the Hours and then have the rest of the day off until Vespers at 6:00 PM at the Cathedral. The rest of the day can be spent in study, work or leisure. The students use this free time wisely to enjoy much needed rest because, as is true in pastoral service in the parish setting, there is very little down-time here at Christ the Saviour!
The week ultimately culminates with the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning celebrated at 9:00 AM at our diocesan Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.
As you can see, life at Christ the Saviour Seminary revolves around the liturgical life of the Church. It is our common worship and personal prayer life that nourishes and strengthens us as we seek spiritual illumination, in the classroom, the chapel, and in service to Christ and His Holy Church in the obedience's that we have been given.
At Christ the Saviour Seminary, we strive by the Grace of Almighty God to grow daily in the knowledge and love of our precious Orthodox Faith. Perhaps God is calling YOU to service in the Vineyard of our Lord-we invite you to come and see...for yourself!