Address to the All American Council
Address to the All American Council

Text of the address of Archimandrite Sergius

Beloved of God it is my privilege to address you today. St Tikhon’s monastery is an important center in the life of the Orthodox Church in America. Founded by St Tikhon of Moscow in 1905, five canonized saints have walked taught lived and prayed at St Tikhon’s Monastery (and there are many unknown possible saints who sacrificed their lives there for us today). It is a place where God dwells and where prayers on behalf of the entire world are offered daily since the monastery’s founding. St Tikhon’s Monastery has been a spiritual flagship for the Church in America and its life and prayers have been effectual in granting health to the sick, resurrection to the dead in soul and body and strength to the Church through many troubled times.

Twenty-one fathers and brothers currently live and pray at St Tikhon’s monastery and it is a life that is marked most by struggle and difficulty. The monastery’s liturgical cycle with its daily liturgy along with each monk’s personal prayer from the heart form the foundation of our Orthodox spiritual life. I believe with all my heart the potential of St Tikhon’s monastery with the patriarchal blessing and foundation of St Tikhon of Moscow is largely untapped and even unlimited. I love and believe in St. Tikhon’s Monastery more than anything else in this world after God Himself and ask you to support and remember our beloved Monastery, the first one established on this continent. I have been at laboring at St. Tikhon’s Monastery for 22 years and have been the abbot for almost 14 years spending the better part of my life in this world laboring with all my heart and might to build and renew our beloved monastery.

In just a few days, we will begin to excavate for the new school of iconography which will be built at St. Tikhon’s Monastery and will provide a two-year program in iconography thanks to a restricted endowment that was given solely for this purpose. Concurrently the building will house a workshop for wood working which will produce iconostasis and other church furnishings. We are currently working with Anton and Ekaterina Daineko who are tentatively planning along with our monastery iconographer Ivan Roumanianstev to create a world class program for an in house student residency program of iconography. Anton and Ekaterina have already created and programed a successful iconography school at St. Elizebeth’s convent in Minsk, Belarus and have a reputation for being foremost in this field both in painting and teaching. It was said by many among the foremost Leonid Uspensky that when we return to the deep hesychastic and watchful Orthodox tradition of the prayer of the heart, a renewal of Church Arts and its culture is the inevitable byproduct. Our focus at the monastery is precisely this inner prayer and as a concurrent result, we believe that deep Orthodox life, culture and art is the wonderous and beautiful byproduct.         

The monastics at St. Tikhon’s Monastery still continue to publish, to teach and have a wonderful relationship with St. Tikhon’s Seminary, produce candles, wine, icons, coffins, provide support to many outreaches of the Church, offer spiritual care and host countless pilgrims, offer retreats and talks throughout this continent and many more activities. As a side note each year we continue to offer more than 10% of our income back to other monasteries, local parishes, priests, to seminarians, to other dioceses and to all those who come to us in need.  By God’s mercy, we are financially stable and sound and all of our financial reports are available on line at Stttikhonsmonastery.org.

The most important development we have to tell about since the last council is our one-year program directly under the monastery that specifically trains choir directors for our parishes:

It is possible to have a well-trained music director. At the new St. Tikhon’s Music Residency Program (which completed its first pilot year of studies), we train music leaders to be skilled Conductors, Singers, Teachers, and Liturgists: all the skills that are needed to lead a first-class music program for our local parishes. Our one-year intensive program lets students immerse themselves in the study of Orthodox church music.
Our Residency Classes Include: Conducting & Rehearsal Technique, Composing & Arranging, Vocal Technique & Pedagogy, Music Education, Music Theory, Performance Practice, Keyboard Skills, Liturgics, Spirituality and Church Music History.

The Music Residency Students get to work on ground-breaking new projects and publications with St. Tikhon’s music faculty, conduct & rehearse the many choirs of St. Tikhon's and sing with the Grammy®-nominated Saint Tikhon Choir all while experiencing a school year of daily services at America's Oldest Orthodox Monastery.

If you know of a musician in your parish who wants to study church music, contribute to the work of Orthodox choral music in America,
learn from some of the best and brightest in that field, and be immersed in a Living Tradition –
we offer to them the Music Residency Program!

For those who aren’t able to come for the full academic year, we have monthly weekend retreats and we cover a different church-music related topic each month. They are open to the public and you can attend in-person or audit virtually. To learn more and register go to Sttikhonsmusicprogram.com

This may sound like a commercial for the music program and I have to say honestly that after working with and for the seminary for more than two decades I have come to believe that one of our greatest tools that we have in the Church beside prayer of the heart and the knowledge of the True God is our musical tradition (which essentially contains it all.) Currently, none of the seminaries (as far as I know) are offering a one year certification program specifically tailored to teach musicians how to be a dynamic force for outreach, service and exceptional beauty except this program. If we fail to support programs like these no matter how hard we may preach and teach one of our greatest tools for outreach and evangelization will be overlooked and the innumerable people we could have reached through this medium will not happen. As a choir director of many years, I can tell you with great assurance this is God’s providential opportunity for the Church and needs to be supported. This program was supported last year entirely by the monastery’s investment fund which for the current year as many of you know who have investments has lost its revenue and viability for now. One semester of the in- house residency program for one student is $7500. Each year we are open to hosting five students which totals about $75,000 each year to run the program. At the end of ten years for an investment of $750,000 we could potentially produce 50 choir directors. A veritable army of trained, empowered knowledgeble servants who can raise the standard of worship, culture and life in our Church and teach others how to do the same.

If you are able to support this program I urge you to consider three ways: by helping to pay for scholarships for students (most of whom cannot), by sending a potential candidate from your parish to study in the program and to pay whatever the parish can over the course of however long, and finally to pray that God will grant students and support for this important and often over looked mission in and to America!

If you are interested in this mission, please see me or contact me through the monastery website or visit sttikhonsmusicprogram.com to find out more details.

 In closing, I would like to thank his beatitude and the Holy Synod for their on going support of St. Tikhon’s Monastery and its mission. I would like to thank you for your time and consideration for what I have mentioned as well as for your service to the Church and our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ. And finally, I would like to remind you: St. Tikhon’s is praying for you, for the Church, and for us all and will continue to do so daily till the Lord comes. There is nothing more important that putting prayer first in our lives. Prayer is the answer, both person and corporate prayer. Prayer can do all things and give us everything. The monastery is truly a beautiful, marvelous and wonderous place where the presence of God is alive and well. Please continue to support us in any way you can and be assured that we support you upholding you in prayer to God for your ministry, health, protection and well-being. May God bless you and keep you all and thank you again.

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Waymart, PA 18472
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