Byzantine Catholic Seminary Begins New Year

The Byzantine Catholic Seminary has welcomed its seminarians back to campus for another year of theological study and pastoral and spiritual formation. Five new men entered the Seminary this year: Kenneth Malley from the Eparchy of Parma; Joseph Hancharick and Lewis Rabayda from the Eparchy of Passaic and Thomas Slosky and Timothy Weber from the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh.

new seminarians
Left to right: Lewis Rabayda, Timothy Weber, Thomas Slosky, Musil Shihadeh, Deacon Diodoro Mendoza, Very Rev. Eugene Yackanich, Benjamin Crow, Joseph Hancharick, Kenneth Malley, Michael Bezruchka, Steven Galuschik.

Kenneth comes to the Seminary from St. John Chrysostom Church in Columbus, OH. A graduate of California University of PA, he majored in psychology and minored in philosophy for this B.A. degree. Ken then spent four years in the military where he perceived a calling towards the priesthood. After one month in the Seminary, Ken described his situation of being a seminarian: �The best part about being a seminarian at the BCS is that I can pursue my calling in a place that truly helps one to learn how to best serve God's people while growing as a person in a healthy, wholesome, and yet human way.�

Lansdale, PA was the home of Joseph Hancharick prior to his coming to the Seminary. He is a member of Holy Trinity Byzantine Catholic Church in Philadelphia, PA. Joseph has a B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh, and after working for a few years, he attended a one-year program at Penn State University and obtained a Masters in Manufacturing Management in 2000. Joseph spent time in the workforce for a number of years in a variety of occupations prior to entering the Seminary. He was a lab technician in a steel mill, later a supervisor, and then a quality engineer at another steel mill. Merck Pharmaceuticals employed Joseph in 2002 as a certified quality engineer until his acceptance into the Seminary; while there, he completed courses in inventory management. Joseph said that after a few people asked if he ever considered a calling to priesthood, his discernment led to take a step in this direction. He is grateful for all those who have guided him on his journey.

Lewis Rabayda, another seminarian from Passaic Eparchy, comes from Annandale, VA and attends Epiphany of Our Lord Church. Commenting on entering his first year of theology, Lewis says: “After taking the step of accepting my vocation from God, He led me to our Seminary, where, currently, I feel very much at home. I believe God himself has led me here, and through this program I will be able to lead others to his love.” Lewis graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Technology-Penn State and received a B.S. degree in Graphic Design. Originally from Summit Hill, PA Lewis moved to Annandale in 2007 and began to work at small company doing design and layout. Most recently, he worked with Eastern Christian Publications/Orientale Lumen TeleVision in graphic design which Lewis considered not merely a job, but an opportunity for education and apprenticeship for the Eastern Churches.

St. Gregory Nazianzus Church in Upper St. Clair is the home parish of Thomas Slosky, one of the seminarians from the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh. Thomas graduated from Duquesne University with a B.A. degree  in Sociology and then went on to work in sales marketing, as a counselor specialist (drug and alcohol) and in sales. Tom is an accomplished runner and enjoys sports, but his interest to grow spiritually led him to the Seminary to discern his calling to the ministry of ordained priesthood which he believes is “to be a witness to the people of what God is doing for them and to be a witness of their own gifts.”

Timothy Weber, a life-long parishioner of St. John Chrysostom Church in Pittsburgh, PA graduated from Duquesne University with a B.A. degree with a major in Multimedia Arts and a minor in Philosophy. He also earned an M.S. degree in Multimedia Technology. He was able to apply his education by participating in The Alt Project – a documentary film funded in part by departments at Duquesne University. Along with eleven others in the crew, they traveled to Oregon and back, following back roads and alternative routes, stopping at a number of lesser known parks and reserves and points of interest. Their task was to document their travels as well as the facts, people and landscapes they encountered. Recently, Tim worked as a webmaster at the Chancery Office for the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh. As he enters the Seminary, Tim is eager to use his gifts (of technology) for building up the Church in today’s society.  In addition, he wants to learn better how to serve God by serving others, which he considers the heart of ministry for a priest.

In addition to the new seminarians, five men are returning from last year’s classes as well. These include: Deacon Diodoro Mendoza (IV Theology), Michael Bezruchka and Benjamin Crow (both II Theology) from the Eparchy of Phoenix; Musil Shihadeh (III Theology) from the Melkite Eparchy of Newton; and Steven Galuschik (II  Theology) from the Eparchy of Passaic. They returned with stories of their pastoral experiences this past summer in various parishes in their particular eparchies.

With their great variety of backgrounds, with their wealth of experiences and with their intense desire to embrace the life of education and formation in the Seminary, this group of men brings much hope for the future of our Byzantine Catholic Church.  Let us all offer them our prayerful support as they continue their journey towards the priesthood.

Very Rev. Eugene P. Yackanich, Administrator of the Archeparchy, celebrated a Divine Liturgy early in September to open the academic year.  In his homily, commenting on the day’s epistle, I Cor. 2:6-9, in which St. Paul speaks of true wisdom, Father Eugene reminded the seminarians that their task as students of theology is to seek out this Wisdom in their studies, in Scripture, the writings of the Fathers and Mothers of the Church, in the Divine Liturgy and ideas and insights of contemporary theologians. “Wisdom is intimate and personal, for it is Jesus Christ; your journey is to look upon the face of Wisdom that will always bring you back to this Holy Table…and from this seat at Wisdom’s Banquet, you will see that secret revealed in everyone that you meet and everyone that you serve.”