On December 6, St. Nicholas Day, the Saint Arseny Institute celebrated the completion of the very first term of classes since its establishment as a project of the Archdiocese of Canada, Orthodox Church in America. During the vespers service, in which several students did the readings, the whole student body was remembered in prayer before the Lord. Mother Magdalen, our resident nun, who upholds us so faithfully in prayer, led the choir in beautiful singing, with the help of priest-wife Diane and Fr. Robert Kennaugh, our Dean for the province of Manitoba, and some of the students and others. Besides Fr. Robert, the rest of the Institute administration took part in the service, led by the Very Reverend Fr. Anatoly Melnyk, rector of Holy Trinity and chaplain and teacher in the Institute. Fr. Mirone Klysh and Protodeacon Raphael Cole served at the altar, and Spencer Estabrooks, our Director, joined the choir and contributed as a reader.
Some twenty-five students, teachers, administration team members, family, friends, and local faithful were present for the Vespers and fellowship afterward in the hall.
The first-ever graduates of the Readers Program Reader Hlib Melnyk from Holy Trinity Sobor, Dean Burnett from St. George parish, and Spencer Estabrooks, also from St. George parish were acknowledged. They will be presented with certificates at the first Arseny Reading on Saturday, January 17th (see Upcoming Events).
Our registrar, Fr. Mirone Klysh, announced that the current number of students registered is twenty, and that both registrations and inquiries for taking the courses or programs by correspondence were increasing from across Canada and even into the United States. In January we may have students from Washington, D.C., Vancouver Island, B.C., Lethbridge and Edmonton, Alberta, and Moosejaw and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan joining the local students who have made up most of the student body during the first term.
Brief presentations by three students regarding St. Nicholas, the central meaning of Christmas, and the key Person of Christmas, were made by diaconal student Lasha Tchantouridze, readers’ program student, Dean Burnett, and auditor in Liturgics/Liturgical Theology, Moon Suk Cho. Lively discussion followed the presentation, with some intriguing and hopeful practical suggestions for celebrating the Nativity of the Lord in our families and parishes and ways the Institute might foster a renewed focus on the Nativity of the Lord among the churches in Winnipeg. This theme continued the Institute’s concern to contribute to the upbuilding of Christian family life and to the full participation of laity in the life of the Church.
Our director, Spencer Estabrooks, expressed thanks to the many who have contributed so enthusiastically and selflessly in so many ways to the establishment of the Saint Arseny Institute. Spencer thanked priest’s wife, Diane and the parish of St. Nicholas for providing the refreshments. He also announced that the Institute had received the blessing of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America at their recent meetings.