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July 2006 Newsletter

Greetings in Christ! I hope this ministry update finds you well. The end of June means one thing in Annapolis—the arrival of a new crop of plebes (freshmen midshipmen) at the U.S. Naval Academy. Every year all the plebes are marched into Alumni Hall to meet the chaplains. They’ve already learned quickly how to follow orders, ‘square’ corners, and chop their steps.

For twenty minutes I met with our seven new Orthodox plebes to introduce myself and this OCF ministry to them. It was just enough time to make introductions, tell them I’d be praying for them, and inform them of our first Divine Liturgy that coming Sunday.

This year, for the first time, we will be able to minister to the Orthodox plebes throughout the summer. After four years of ministry at the Naval Academy, familiarity with Orthodoxy is increasing and thanks to a friendship I’ve developed with the Roman Catholic chaplains, is opening up new opportunities for ministry.

We’ve now been given use of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, not only for this summer, but throughout the coming academic year. This is a major blessing. This past Sunday we held the first ever Orthodox Liturgy during Plebe Summer as Fr. Constantine White, Dean of St. Nicholas OCA Cathedral in D.C., celebrated the Liturgy for us with me assisting and offering the homily. Six of the seven men were able to participate.

The Gospel could not have been more appropriate for this first Sunday of their formation. Christ reminds us that we cannot serve two masters; that we must put Him and His Church first in our lives if we are to become the men of God He desires. The plebes were challenged to see their spiritual formation in Christ as their first priority—one that will then enable them to become the military leaders they want to be.

These seven young men are (standing in the picture) Alex Kovalenko, Bill Resarg, Michael Kerrigan, Basil Doratsos, Dro Gregorian, and (not pictured) Adrian Tolea and Chris Petkas. They represent a cross-section of Orthodoxy in America: Greek, Armenian, Romanian, and Ukrainian. Please keep them and me, their OCF (Orthodox Christian Fellowship) chaplain, in your fervent prayers as they continue to persevere through their Plebe Summer ‘boot camp’ and as I strive to help them ‘own’ their Orthodox Faith and apply it to their lives in the midst of their military formation.

Your contributions make this ministry possible. Thank you! If you are not yet a supporting participant in this ministry to St. John’s and the USNA, please prayerfully consider a monthly pledge. Even $15 makes a big difference.