Fr. Peter Smith, USA: From Peruvian Paradise To Orthodox Priest

http://usaofmyheart.wordpress.com

USA OF MY HEART

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Georgia, USA

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From Peruvian Paradise To Orthodox Priest

by

Fr. Peter Smith, Georgia, USA

Source:

http://journeytoorthodoxy.comHERE

JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY

Perhaps this journey to Orthodoxy really starts for me as a Roman Catholic college student.

The Newman Club was an interesting way to meet “people” [from a college student, you need to read “girls!”] and so I “joined” the Club. Soon, however, there was an instant shock wave through the Newman Club as the priest who was the coordinator and facilitator of the Club, came onto me and tried to “hook up” one evening in the rectory.

Well, that hastened a totally unceremonious departure and immediate exit from that entire scene and – believe it or not – started me on the road to the Orthodox Church.

As a direct result of that dark and traumatic evening the night before I left college I returned home. That summer, a wonderful British family was visiting my folks. They lived in Peru and were on holiday in New York. My father knew them through his position of Vice President of an international import/export firm dealing with companies in South America. After hearing about the recent happenings in my life, they invited my dad to let me spend a year with them in Peru!!

An intriguing and incredibly exciting doorway and escape was all set for me to walk through on my way to the Orthodox Church…though I had no idea of just how that would happen, since the Lord kept it completely hidden from me. At this point, I was really “far away” from God! After the Newman Club and college, I truly embraced the proposition of a year far away from the chaos of my life as it was. Ever since the disastrous and indelible exit from “the college that will live in infamy,” there was an abiding and almost gnawing sense that there indeed was a God… and He must be somewhere!!

My world totally and graphically changed during that exhilerating flight from New York City to Miami to Panama City, Panama to Quito, Ecuador to Lima, Peru. With the exception of that gnawing sense of the Lord’s presence somewhere within me, I spent quite a carefree and ‘bon-vivant’ life in and around Peru for about 6 months. The caring and incredibly generous British family with whom I lived in a wonderful penthouse apartment in Miraflores, Peru [a rather affluent and “international” section of suburban Lima] helped me acquire a teaching position, allowed me to almost exclusively use one of their several cars, subsidized a club membership to a magnificent private golf course, introduced me to several “unattached” and truly vivacious daughters of foreign dignitaries and brought me along on many of their day-long sailing ventures.

In brief, at 20 tender and inexperienced years of age, I was tending to believe that Paradise was my immediate neighborhood.

Life was sweet, available, enticing, totally satisfying and completely at my beck and call. Seemingly, the Lord merely decided not to warn me to get ready to duck!!

In celebration of the ’78’ that I shot in my latest round of golf, the sister of one of my co-teachers at the Instituto Cultural and I double dated at a local beach with another couple – her other sister and her fiance. So the fiance Antonio and I decided with great gusto to go body surfing in the 6 foot surf at the beach that day. Beautiful weather…, delightful beach and surf…, lovely company…; it just couldn’t get any better than that! That gnawing sense of His presence now rose up to meet me …head on!

As I ran from the beach and dove into one of those enticing, beckoning waves, the Lord drew His two iron from His golf bag… and WHAM!!…He knocked me into the next week. Right through the top of the wave I flew!! A cartoon from the ’50’s comes to mind… a young, careless boy dives from a dock and gets stuck headfirst in the sand below; the caption reads, “LOOK MOM!! NO HANDS!!” Sooo, I went through that wave just like a knife…and smashed onto the hardened sand behind it…CRASH!!!

Totally stunned and unable to move, my mouth finally came to the surface…

“HELP ME!” I yelled as loud as I could!!

And then I immediately thought, “You clown! Nobody understands English at this beach!” So in Spanish, I again yelled

“AYUDEME!!”

Finally, Antonio came and dragged me to shore…somewhat lifeless.

“O GOD, PLEASE LET ME LIVE!!”

is the prayer that came to me just then!!

Well, He indeed let me live…but not very comfortably it must be said.

After 10 days of an agonizing uncertainty and a more agonizing pain; it was finally discovered that my vault into hard sand left two cervical bones broken into about 26 pieces as it showed on the X-rays. It took my dad flying to Lima, rallying a couple of his friends and associates to arrange a Panagra flight to New York and convince the pilot to land on a most inclement and stormy night in Lima and fly me back to the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.

The Lord had emphatically put my raucous life to a complete stop and began drawing me into the life He set for me. After a lengthy surgery where I was put into skeletal traction with 40 pounds of weight pulling 180 degrees from my neck, I began a rehab that would not only put my neck into better shape…but would alter the entire life I had led and would live from now onward. On a Wednesday evening, the phone near my bed rang.

My ’24-7′ nurse handed it to me, and my girlfriend said quietly,

“Hi Gary, how are you?”

Within the next 10 minutes, my then girlfriend quickly became my ex-girlfriend. While I was living “the high life” in Peru, she had become enamored with another guy. But…the Lord had a plan…I was introduced to another young woman who was babysitting along with my now ex-girlfriend.

After a rather contentious and “sparring” conversation, the young woman told me that she’d try to get by to see me on Saturday. IT WAS STILL TIME FOR THE LORD TO KEEP ACTING!!

Saturday came, as did my dad. He visited on Saturdays and my mom on Sundays. Somewhere in the mid-morning, a most attractive and vivacious young woman showed up at my bedside!! Her name was Terri, and she decided to make good on her statement about trying to get to see me that weekend. Now we know the entire plot of this “conversion” journey… recently high living, young and ‘reckless’ young man, a lapsed Roman Catholic with a need for God; meets a “cradle” Orthodox young nursing student with a great sense of caring for and ‘healing’ people.

Our courtship began that day!! We spent the entire day getting to know Terri and liking everything we learned…both my dad and me, of course. What wasn’t there to like?…friendly, jocular, bright…[Oh, did I mention looooonnngg blonde hair and rather undulating curves?] Well, I told my dad after Terri left that I would marry her in a not too distant time of my life. He was amused!

The next day, my mom was to meet Terri. After a lovely and consuming day, I told my mom just what I told my dad the day before. She, however, was NOT amused. Well, none of us yet realized that the Lord was playing out this story. As I mentioned, Terri was a ‘cradle’ Orthodox Christian in the Russian Orthodox Church. I was still a curious and thirsty pilgrim in search of Christ…I seemed to have lost Him a little while ago! It was an encounter – you will pardon the expression – “made in Heaven.” Terri and I spent the next two months in the hospital – as I recouped from the broken neck – in regular conversation about God, Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy and salvation. I learned a great deal. Finally, I was able to go home for another two-months of recuperation…this time in a leather collar that closely resembled “Ming the Merciless” from Flash Gordon [my, my, I AM dating myself!] We continued my education…actually, my “catechesis.”

We spoke of marriage for a while, and I finally had an opportunity to meet Terri’s folks. Her dad could have been a priest…or at least a catechist! I learned sooo much from him about my future “home.” Terri and I married in September of 1969. After the birth of our daughter [our second child], it was just the right time for me to enter the Orthodox Church and make our family wholly one!! Studying and training with

A) the Irish-Catholic convert priest in their home church;

B) the Romanian-American priest who succeeded the Irish/Catholic priest; and

C) my father-in-law; allotted me every twist and turn necessary to negotiate this journey. Hence, by the time our family was ready for one church and one chalice, I was convinced and anxious for the service of Chrismation to receive the blessing of the fullness of Christ.

Chronologically, I was “introduced” to Orthodoxy [and my future wife!] in 1968 while in the hospital. Our marriage in 1969 took place in East Meadow, Long Island, NY. Fr. Daniel Hubiak was the priest who celebrated our wedding. I was Chrismated in 1975 in Niagara Falls, NY. We moved to Charlotte, NC in 1979 and were members of the Nativity of the Theotokos Mission until we moved to SVS in 1984. It was during our time in Charlotte while we were pastored by then Father Seraphim Storeheim – now Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and all Canada [who was on loan from Canada] when all ahead became clear.

One day in the midst of weeks of unemployment, I asked him,

“Father, after all this stuff that has been my life…do you think God might be calling me to the Priesthood?”

His response was so ‘totally Orthodox,’

“Well…could be!”

Well, we were on our way to SVS 4 months later!! I was ordained to the diaconate in 1986 in Charlotte and to the Holy Priesthood in 1987 at SVS. I guess my life has always been in God’s Hands…I just didn’t realize it until that violent encounter in 1968.

Essentially, any “conversion” truly affected a real change in the manner and intensity of life in the world for me. Yes…the swimming accident was central to any “conversion;” but it is a great mystery as to how much of “an accident” the episode really was.

Fr. Peter Smith is the Priest of St. Mary of Egypt Church in Norcross (Atlanta), Georgia, USA

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France currently home to 500-700,000 Orthodox Christians and growing

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http://conversionstoorthodoxy.wordpress.com

CONVERSIONS TO ORTHODOXY

FRANCE OF MY HEART

France currently home

to 500-700,000 Orthodox Christians and growing

Source:

http://orthochristian.com

http://orthochristian.com/105307.html

ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY

The Handbook of the Orthodox Church has been published in France, providing comprehensive information and practical information about Orthodox life in France. It presents a detailed map showing the location of all Orthodox parishes, monasteries, and dioceses in France by region, and provides information about Orthodox bishops (members of the Association of Orthodox Bishops), priests, and deacons, and also about clergy who have reposed in recent years. The new publication also contains information on icon workshops, Orthodox choirs, Orthodox periodicals, documentaries and art publications, candle and bookstores, and Orthodox movements in France, reports Sedmitza.

The number of Orthodox is growing steadily in France according to the Handbook, which places it at 500,000. The Catholic publication “La Croix” places the number at 700,000, with a preponderance of Russians and Continue reading “France currently home to 500-700,000 Orthodox Christians and growing”

Digital Natives Embrace Ancient Church – Twentysomethings captivated by Orthodoxy

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USA OF MY HEART

Digital Natives Embrace Ancient Church

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Twentysomethings captivated by Orthodoxy

By

Andrea Goodell

Source:

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com

JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY

Tim Flinders will graduate from Grand Valley State University next month. Raised Lutheran, he also explored fundamentalist Baptism, Roman Catholicism and even Messianic Judaism before converting to Orthodox Christianity this year.

“Orthodoxy has completely transformed me already,” he said. “I feel like the first time in my life I’m growing spiritually.”

Flinders, 22, like many other young people converting to Eastern Orthodoxy, was looking for authenticity and historical accuracy in his Christian faith.

“I had so many different questions that needed to be answered,” said Flinders, who added he wrestled with the many divisions of the Christian church over the years.

He became Eastern Orthodox Christian at St. George Orthodox Church in Grand Rapids.

Recently he attended the second annual Encountering Orthodoxy Conference at Hope College.

The Rev. Deacon Nicholas Belcher, dean of students at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Boston, gave the opening keynote address, using the themes of holy week to introduce Orthodoxy to the more than 50 who attended.

Eastern Orthodox Easter, Pascha in Greek — the language favored by Continue reading “Digital Natives Embrace Ancient Church – Twentysomethings captivated by Orthodoxy”

April 24, 2015: Mass Orthodox Baptism in Purok Tagumpay, Poblacion Alabel, Sarangani Province, Philippines – Former “Philippine Independent Catholic Church” members baptized Orthodox Christians

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ROMAN CATHOLICS MET ORTHODOXY

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Orthodox Philippines

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April 24, 2015:

Mass Orthodox Baptism in Purok Tagumpay, Poblacion Alabel,

Sarangani Province, Philippines –

Former “Philippine Independent Catholic Church” members

baptized Orthodox Christians

Source:

http://journeytoorthodoxy.comHERE

JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY

Mass Baptism of the Catechumens of St. Isidore (of Rostov) the Wonderworker Orthodox Church: Photos taken during the Mass Baptism (April 24, 2015) of the catechumens of the newly accepted “St. Isidore the Wonderworker Orthodox Church” in Purok Tagumpay, Poblacion Alabel, Sarangani Province, Philippines. A former parish of the “Philippine Independent Catholic Church” (also known as Aglipayan Church) now embracing Orthodoxy. This is the third parish of the Moscow Patriarchate in the Philippines. Another dozens of Aglipayan parishes is set to be receive and baptize in the next few months. Many years to the newly baptized Filipino Orthodox Christians!

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September 26, 2015: Mass Baptism in Kiamba, Philippines – 187 former “Philippine Independent Catholic Church” members baptized Orthodox Christians

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HEAVEN ON EARTH – ORTHODOXY

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Orthodox Philippines

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September 26, 2015:

Mass Baptism in Kiamba, Philippines –

187 former “Philippine Independent Catholic Church” members

baptized Orthodox Christians

Source:

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/82584.htm

ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY

On Saturday, September 26, 2015, nearly two hundred formerly Catholic Filipinos were received into the Orthodox Church through the sacrament of holy baptism, as reported on the Philippine Orthodox Church—Moscow Patriarchate Facebook page and the Philippine Mission of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROCOR) page.

Despite massive waves that repeatedly knocked them over, Frs. Silouan Thompson and Stanislav Rasputin celebrated the baptism of 187 new Orthodox Christians, lasting six hours.

The newly-baptized are parishioners of four former Philippine Independent Catholic Church parishes in the Sarangani province: St. Joseph the Worker Parish (now St. Joseph the Betrothed Orthodox Church) in Poblacion Kiamba; San Isidro Labrador parish (now St. Isidore of Chios Orthodox Church) in Salakit; Nuestra Sra. Sela Paz parish (now Holy Theophany Orthodox Church) in Kayupo; and the Mission of the Theotokos of the Life-Giving Spring in the town of Maitum, Sarangani Province.
There are now nine parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in the Philippines in addition to another twenty still undergoing catechism. There remain around two hundred faithful to be baptized from these four parishes who were prevented from attending due to distance and bad weather, among other reasons. Their reception is yet to be scheduled.

Saturday’s mass baptism took place after almost two years of catechism and was followed by the Divine Liturgy in which the newly-baptized received Holy Communion for the first time.

Fr. Silouan writes: “Kiamba is in an area where the Moro Nationalist Liberation Front (Islamic secessionist group) is quite active, and a number of foreigners have been abducted this week by various groups of evildoers, so we were grateful for the escort the Philippine National Police provided for our sacrament and our procession from the church to the beach and back (even if their machine guns were a little strange to American eyes).”

Fr. Silouan is presently the only resident priest of the Russian Orthodox Church in Mindanao, often traveling to preach and serve the Liturgy in the various missions in addition to his own of St. John Maximovitch in Santa Maria, although there are plans to assign a second permanent priest by the end of the year.

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