Subdeacon John served in the Church for about six years. He was tonsured a Reader in 2001. His father always made him go to church even though he really did not want to be there. He remembered when he was a child, his father made him go to church one day when he was sick. While in the service, he threw up and left the Liturgy to go to his father. That is when he was told that he was never to leave the Divine Liturgy. His father hugged him, and he stayed with him during the rest of the Liturgy.
Subdeacon John and Tatiana knew each for quite a while before getting married. Her brother was his best friend growing up. He graduated from Russian Mission High School in 2004. His first work was with the American Seafood Company as a fisherman after graduation. After that, he worked for the Gold Mine Exploration project for the state of Alaska. His work included acquiring core samples from the earth and cutting them for the company in Vancouver. He also did maintenance. This project has been studied by the state for future gold mining in Alaska.
For quite a while, he considered going to seminary. His work was becoming routine. Even though he had grown up in the church, he did not have the knowledge he felt was needed regarding Orthodoxy. Subdeacon John now feels he wants to travel the Diocese and educate others on the wholeness and truth of Orthodoxy. When I asked him how he now feels about coming to seminary (SHS) he said, "It is the best decision I have made in my life." He would take life at SHS over anything and would encourage others to come and learn about Orthodoxy.
It's been difficult for his wife. She has had a hard time taking care of their children in Church. We discussed how this is always a difficult process with young children and most likely by the time they get acclimated to being in church, it will be time for him to leave SHS and then they will have to adjust to another church. This was a light moment for our conversation. The most positive thing about being at seminary he feels is the knowledge people there have of the faith. He says that SHS has pumped out a lot of clergy for Alaska. But he seeks the opportunity to teach. The hardest thing is not being able to answer the questions of the elementary-age year children he teaches there every Sunday. He is always concerned that the children will ask him something he cannot answer because he is still learning.
He will work subsistence in Russian Mission during the summers. Tatiana was working as an aero technician before coming to Kodiak. She is looking for work in Kodiak.
His favorite subjects are Church History, Homiletics, and Old Testament. Subdeacon John says that, God willing, he will teach.
Sponsored by St. Nicholas Cathedral, Andrea Lutov - contact, Washington, DC OCA
August 16, 1985
Russian Mission/350/SElevation of the Holy Cross
Archpriest Peter Askoak
Righteous Simeon, The God Receiver
Michael graduated from Central High School in Kenai in 2003. At that time, his father was the priest for the Kenai church. He moved to Newhalen after graduation and was employed in a fuel operation business. The work was in refueling airplanes, helicopters, and ferries for carrying fuel and cargo. Later, work on heavy equipment was added. Michael did this work for about five years.
He had been thinking about St. Herman Seminary since high school. Now retired, Bishop Nikolai talked with him about attending. He knew he would go but was not sure when. When he went to Kodiak to visit his sister, Stephanie, he would visit some of the seminarians who were attending St. Herman Seminary, and after meeting others over two months, he decided it was time for him to go.
We discussed the various opportunities for serving the Church after he completes his education for a clergy vocation. Becoming a Deacon gives him a great opportunity to serve the Church in Alaska in many ways. Michael has decided it is time for him to marry a special friend from Kodiak. He will be traveling to Bethel, AK over Christmas to meet her family and ask for her hand. He says "She is the one".
Favorite studies are Liturgics, Ethics, Church History and Music. He especially likes putting the services together and knowing what is coming next in the service. He says all are good. The hardest thing about being at seminary is missing home - his brothers and parents. He has adapted pretty well to Kodiak, playing on the seminary basketball team. Michael serves in the altar and has been a subdeacon for more than 10 years.
The second year students take turns to get the services ready and what the services will be. He does benefit from the St. Julianna Food Pantry which is also a project of Outreach Alaska, for the seminarians. Subdeacon Michael is appreciative of the help that the Adopt a Seminarian sponsor provides him throughout his years to complete his studies at St. Herman Theological Seminary.
Sponsored by St. George Orthodox Cathedral, Wichita, KS AOA
February 10, 1985
Newhalen /200/Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord
Yupik Eskimo, Bristol Bay Area
Name: Fr. David Askoak
Synaxis of Archangel Michael
Subdeacon James graduated from Marshall High School in 1996. He did nothing for two years and then worked as a Village Police Officer. His wife, Theresa was a year behind him in school. She worked at the store in Marshall before becoming the tribal Administrative Assistant with the Native Council.
He had been a Reader for over 10 years but wanted to learn more about Orthodoxy. His father is Rev. Father Nicholai Isaac, graduate of St. Herman Theological Seminary in 2002 - one of the first sponsored seminarians for Outreach Alaska. Father Nicholai is a much respected priest. His father is assigned to the Kalskag Church in the upper Kuskokwim Area.
Subdeacon Jason is following his father, but making his own path. His family and Theresa encouraged him to apply to seminary. The most difficult thing for him now that he is in seminary studies is financially taking care of five children. They were used to a city job with a salary that supported the family. The most positive part is attending classes and learning a lot about the faith.
He learns a great deal from talking with Fr. John Dunlop (Seminary Dean) and may be ordained during March with Bishop Benjamin. His favorite courses are Liturgics and Homiletics - both the teacher and the subject matter.
Theresa attends classes with him and likes her classes better now than before mid-terms. The children are doing well with everything. Mary, the oldest, is a junior in High School and the others are at St. Mary Boarding School. It is difficult to pay the fees for Boarding School, but they are working with him on this. They like Kodiak better every year. When they take summer break in Marshall, after one week, the children are ready to go back to Kodiak. Subdeacon Jason says that his daughter wants to go to seminary. Then he laughs and says, "I will have her as my Choir Director. Theresa, also."
Sponsored by Olga Dunlop, Stanford, CA OCA
February 22, 1977
Marshall/400/St. Michael/Holy Protection
Oscar graduated from Koliganek High School in 2009. He went to Dillingham for fishing but worked instead at Pebble Mine until 2011. He first worked as a "Bear Guard" - keeping the workers safe from bears. He also worked at reclaimed land with the Reclamation Crew and was a drill helper for copper (core drilling).
He saw people leaving Orthodoxy at his home village. His mother is a teacher aide in their village, and their family is active in the Church. His parents instilled in him the importance of Orthodoxy. He read the Bible since middle school and began researching Orthodoxy through books and other readings. With this learning, he saw what his parents were saying was true. In 2010, he purchased books on Orthodoxy. His priest suggested he go to seminary. He thought about going to a monastery but felt his priest's recommendation was God's Will.
The most difficult thing for him at seminary is going to bed in time for early rising. Without a sponsor last year, his sister helped him out; he also had some support from families at his home village. His grades are mostly A's. He went on a mission trip last year from May 2 - June 11 to Albania. Oscar received credit from Holy Cross in Boston for his work in Albania.
He has a girlfriend, and they have talked about marriage next year. Payton is from Akiachak. He is working through this relationship with his spiritual father and has received his blessing for this turn in the life for monasticism. Oscar says he is willing to do whatever is God's Will for his work for Orthodoxy.
He liked the Liturgical music and is studying to be a Choir Director. Currently he is putting together binders for the choir, learning the services in Slavonic and Yupik. Matushka Bea Dunlop, wife of SHS Dean, Fr. John Dunlop, and teacher at the seminary, said that Oscar is talented musically and has done well in the seminary choir. On his application he said, "Since I was young I used to read and try to please God…..". He is talented in languages and has taken Greek from Fr. Juvenaly. In spite of his youth, she says he is one of the most promising students she has seen since being at the seminary - more than 17 years.
Sponsored by St. Michael the Archangel, Park City, KS AOA
May 25, 1991
Koliganek/200/St. Michael the Archangel
V. Rev. Fr. Ivan Gumlickpuk
St. Sergius of Radinezh
Subdeacon John was the traveling Subdeacon with Bishop NIKOLAI. He was born, raised and Baptized in Anchorage. In 2006, he graduated from Robert Service High School. He worked in music production with friends who had a Rap/Hip-hop band. The band is now called "Odd Ones Out". He still helps when needed.
Subdeacon first served the Church at the age of five, and over the years wanted to be a priest. Bishop NIKOLAI was a huge influence on his decision to go to seminary. Vladyka recognized John was well-disciplined in his work for the Church. When Vladyka asked John about his plans, John told him he wanted to serve the Church.
John accompanied Vladyka NIKOLI to the St. Herman Pilgrimage in 2002. He began serving with His Grace at St. Innocent Cathedral in Anchorage - reading the Hours and Epistle. John learned a lot in a short period of time. He often traveled with Bishop NIKOLAI as his Subdeacon.
When Bishop NIKOLAI retired in 2007, John lost trust in some of the Alaska clergy. This led to too much partying. He took on low-paying jobs to get by and help his mother. One morning, John woke up and asked himself "What are you really trying to do?"
He decided to quite partying get back into the church. When he went to Fr. John Zabinko, Dean of St. Innocent Cathedral in Anchorage, he was greeted warmly. Father John, thrilled to see him, told Subdeacon John he should get settled in Anchorage, pay his bills, etc. With the direction of Fr. John, Subdeacon John followed this plan and enrolled at St. Herman Seminary in May 2011. He was accepted in July 2011. His first year was amazing.
He loves being at seminary and helps with the teaching. He loves the peacefulness of Kodiak. He is glad he stayed with his decision to go to St. Herman Theological Seminary. He knows Evil was tempting him, and he is glad to serve the Lord and bring people to Him. He has many ideas for helping the community including bringing in the locals to participate with seminary needs and projects.
Sponsored by Greater Dallas Clergy Brotherhood Dallas - Fr. Worth and surrounding area - TX Pan-Orthodox Group
June 17. 1987
Anchorage/250,000/St. Innocent Cathedral
V. Rev. John Zabinko
St. John the Theologian
After graduating from Zacharias John William Memorial High School in 1989, Alexander joined the Alaska National Guard. His duties included infantry, paper work, etc. After 12 years, he had received two honorable discharges. He then worked in accounts receivable for the school district in Akiachak. Before going to seminary, Alexander worked with the IRA as a Tribal Court Administrator.
He met his wife, Fannie in 1989 in Akiachak. As a young person, Alexander grew up attending church. He helped clean and attended Sunday School. God pulled his heart towards seminary. He and Fannie talked about this, and he began researching St. Herman Theological Seminary (SHS). In 2007, he attended a conference at SHS and liked the environment for learning.
He feels he is good at talking with elders. At seminary, he's served in the altar, sung in the seminary choir and helped raise money for the seminary mission trip. He wants to help SHS in any way possible with fundraising. His favorite class last year was Slavonic. Studying was hard at first, but as the years progress, he knows it will get easier. Reading is a challenge for him. Last year the students helped each other out with homework and other difficulties.
Fannie has applied for a teaching position in Kodiak. The most difficult thing for the family is being homesick for the village life. Now, they have adjusted to city life, become comfortable with seminary teachers and students and generally like being in Kodiak.
Alexander and his family arrived in Kodiak the end of August 2013 to begin their second year at St. Herman Theological Seminary. Since his village does not have a home parish, the community of Achiachak is planning to build an Orthodox Church. The name will be St. John the Forerunner. Alexander will be instrumental in the starting of this new parish.
Sponsored by St. John of Damascus Orthodox Church Poway, CA OCA
April 3, 1969
Akiachak /900/St. John the Forerunner
Fr. Vasily Fisher, Napaskiak, AK
Sergius graduated from High School in 2004. He then went to Anchorage to attend University of Alaska where he met his wife, Christine. They dated for a few years, then lived together and worked. He and Christine had two children before they married in 2010. Sergius was drinking alcohol extensively during these years. Christine prayed consistently that he would stop this behavior.
During a prayer service, when he was chosen to be a Godfather, he felt a "smack" on his face indicating he needed to make this change in his life. He realized as he held his new godchild that he needed to stop the life he was living and become responsible to his wife and children. He felt he should start serving God. He worked three years as an Instructive aid for children with extreme high needs - both physically and psychologically.
In 2012, his son, Carl, became ill and was taken to the clinic in New Stuyahok. Fr. Alexie Askoak prayed with them at the clinic, and Carl became much better. This was a very important event in Sergius' life.
He listens to Ancient Faith Radio. This influence, that of his priest and his priest's son led him to consider seminary. Christine at first objected to seminary, but has been more supportive since they've been at seminary.
She is more of a mother and wife. He has leaned that she must be taken care of and come first. He is always attending classes/services. He is practicing self-control by not indulging in earthly things but rather indulging in the spiritual things that the Lord gives us in His Church.
No sponsor at this time.
March 23, 1986
New Stuyahok/550-600/St. Sergius of Radonenezeh
Archpriest Alexei Askoak
Mary graduated from Lathrop High School in Fairbanks in 1998. She continued her education with four years at University of Alaska at Fairbanks (UAF) and five years at University of Alaska at Anchorage (UAA). She worked while in college. Her work during these years and prior to coming to seminary was as a Social Worker. She was a case worker for persons with disabilities with a focus on autism/fetal alcohol syndrome. She managed a $275,000 grant from the State of Alaska and wrote grants for projects.
She would like to see the church more involved in social issues in Alaska. She feels the church has a place particularly suicide and substance abuse counseling within the foundation of the Church. Mary is seeking her education in Clinical Pastoral Education - CPE - counseling within a clinical setting.
Mary converted to Orthodoxy in 2007. She was raised nondenominational and always felt she was getting only "part of the story". After her best friend committed suicide, she started going back to the protestant church. Someone told her to go to the Orthodox Church and the minute she attended, she knew she would be Orthodox. She was counseled by Fr. John Zabinko, Dean of St. Innocent Russian Orthodox Cathedral.
Mary attended the Spruce Island Pilgrimage just a few days after her baptism in 2007. During the pilgrimage, she was seated at a table with Fr. Michael Oleksa during a meal. She knew that SHS had a counseling program but thought men could only attend SHS. Fr. Oleksa told her that SHS does accept female students. She went back to her room, prayed, walked and prayed more. She visited the seminary and talked with Matushka Bea Dunlop - wife of seminary Dean, Fr. John Dunlop. Mary visited with her parents and Fr. John Zabinko. She then applied for seminary and was accepted.
Mary currently maintains a 4.0 GPA and worked for Fr. David Mahaffey at the Diocese of Alaska Administrative office during summer 2013. Her calling to establish social work services within the Diocese of Alaska is supported by the diocese administrator, V. Rev. Fr. David Mahaffey. It is her plan after graduation to work for the Diocese of Alaska helping address the social issues in Alaska.
Sponsored by Father Gary Breton and Matushka Mary Buletza Point Pleasant, NJ - OCA
January 29, 1980
Anchorage/300,000/St. Innocent Russian Orthodox Cathedral
Fr. John Zabinko