Seminarians Speak

To Lead, We Must Learn How to Serve

Author: 
Fr. Mark Vair

Fr. Mark (3rd from left), SVOTS seminarian Mirjana Ruzicic (right), and other IOCC seminarian volunteers, in New OrleansFr. Mark (3rd from left), SVOTS seminarian Mirjana Ruzicic (right), and other IOCC seminarian volunteers, in New OrleansAt the beginning of 2015, two of us from St. Vladimir's Seminary joined students from three other Orthodox seminaries, to participate in a home building effort in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Sponsored by the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity, the humanitarian project addressed the ongoing need for housing rehabilitation in the city still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Most of our days were spent working on home construction and rehab, but we also were able to take a trip to see the Ninth Ward, a section of New Orleans that had been Fr. Mark, Kh. Vasilia, and CatherineFr. Mark, Kh. Vasilia, and Catherineespecially impacted by the hurricane. A decade after Katrina, there is still a lot of work to be done in rebuilding New Orleans.

This is the second year that IOCC has enlisted a team of seminarians to assist in the building and repair of homes; several students from St. Vladimir's participated in a similar project in 2014. In fact, since 2005, nearly 1,000 volunteers on IOCC Orthodox Action Teams have donated over 33,000 man-hours to repair 193 family homes across the United States damaged by natural disasters.

These past three years, I have been in the classrooms, the library, and the chapel at St. Vladimir's, studying and praying. However, soon it will be time to graduate and leave this behind, and I then will begin to apply the theology I have studied. The home build with IOCC reminded each of us seminarians that the universe is our parish, and that our Church is without borders. If we are to lead, we must first learn how to serve.


A third-year seminarian, Fr. Mark was ordained to the priesthood on the Feast of the Holy Cross this past year at Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church in Linthicum, Maryland. His wife, Kh. Vasilia, is a clinical social worker who works at an outpatient counseling center with youth and their families in the Bronx, NY. They welcomed their first child, daughter Catherine, into this world on November 8, 2014. Father Mark will serve in the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America upon graduation; he is looking forward to fulfilling his vocation through Christian service and ministry.

Previous Seminarians Speak articles:

Title Author Date
To Lead, We Must Learn How to Serve Fr. Mark Vair February 10, 2015
At the National Festival of Young Preachers Tristan Gall January 9, 2015
The Saints John Mikitish December 16, 2014
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall... Lijin Raju November 19, 2014
Transfiguration Seraphim Long October 16, 2014
What I Did This Summer Dn. Theodor Svane September 23, 2014
Restoring the Western Rite Ian Abodeely August 14, 2014
"Delicately Perched": An Armenian Student's End-of-year Insights Kathryn Ashbahian May 7, 2014
The Vocation of Fatherhood Joshua Trant April 2, 2014
A Unique Orthodox Community Experience Dn. Shiryl Mathai March 10, 2014
The Festival of Young Preachers, 2014 Fr. Gabreil Alemayehu February 14, 2014
The Road to Hospital Chaplaincy Beryl Knudsen February 4, 2014
How Many are Your Works, O Lord! Bogdan Neacsiu December 5, 2013
Oregon and New York, Farm and Seminary Ashli Moore October 23, 2013
Reflections on a New Academic Year Sandro Margheritino September 24, 2013
Our Common Love Gabrielle Kushlan March 19, 2013
We Are Being Formed Daily Jabra Tannous November 26, 2012
Serving with His Beatitude Ignatius IV, Patriarch of Antioch Richard Ajalat October 29, 2012
A Life in Christ Under Guard Harrison Basil Russin September 25, 2012
For a Monastic, Seminary Life Seems "Ideal" Monk James March 13, 2012
Embracing All Who Suffer Loss: Seminarians Train for Post-Abortion Counseling Seminarian Dn. David Wooten March 8, 2012
Marching Peaceably, Praying Mightily Seminarian Dn. David Wooten January 26, 2012
"I was in prison, and you visited me." (Matt 25:37) Adam Horstman March 14, 2011
Bless These Waters: Theophany at SVOTS David Wooten January 14, 2011
Feasting before the Fast, Thanksgiving at SVOTS Sarah Bracey-Johnson November 22, 2010
"It's Worth It": Reflection on "Ed Day" Andrew Boyd October 29, 2010
"I (used to) Play in a Rock Band" Jamey Bozeman September 15, 2010
St. Vladimir’s Seminary and the Upward Call Fr. Lucas Rice July 19, 2010
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