9–12 • June 2013 • On–Campus Summer Program
Deacons and diaconal candidates gathered from states like Colorado and Kentucky for four concentrated days of training during the 7th Annual Diaconal Practicum at St. Vladimir's Seminary. Led by Archdeacon Kirill Sokolov , director of the Diaconal Vocations Program  for the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), the workshop offered instruction on a broad range of liturgical celebrations, and dealt with matters both sublime (how to serve with a bishop) and practical (how to speak and vocalize).
Throughout the year, Archdeacon Kirill works with other mentors at the parish and diocesan level to encourage and train diaconal and late vocations students. In his workshops, he is able to draw from his own experience as an assistant to the metropolitan in hierarchical liturgies at church–wide celebrations and as an archdeacon serving regularly at the Diocese of the West's Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco. A former SVOTS employee and lecturer in Liturgics, the Archdeacon now works as Director of Technology at San Domenico School in San Anselmo, CA.
Assistant Professor of Homiletics and Rhetoric The Rev. Dr. Sergius Halvorsen  assisted Archdeacon Kirill and led sessions on public speaking and voice. "Within the Liturgy of the Church," he explained, "from Scripture readings to litanies and the prokiemena, it is essential that the deacon be well trained in the use of his voice. Our sessions focused on effective vocal production so that the deacons could serve beautifully, intelligibly and with conviction." Regarding his session on public speaking, Fr. Sergius noted that "as an ordained minister of the Church, there will be occasions when deacons will be called upon to speak about our Christian faith, and to preach the Gospel. Possessing basic rhetorical skills will help them to engage these opportunities with confidence and with effectiveness."
On the final day of the practicum, His Grace The Rt. Rev. Michael, bishop of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey (OCA), presided at Wednesday's liturgy, and afterwards addressed attendees. He told the workshop participants that deacons through the history of the Church have been known for exercising a variety of spiritual gifts: St. Stephen was called to witness with his martyrdom, St. Philip was a great evangelist. "Bring your talents to bear—you will feel drained and
strained but our Lord did too," emphasized His Grace. "Take the gifts God has given you and give them back to Him. When you serve, serve piously; learn the services and love them. But it's not all about liturgical pomp and circumstance; deacons have pioneered hospitals and schools and prison ministry too."