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Ordination Speech of Fr. Sophronios Vomend to the Priesthood

Ordination Speech of Fr. Sophronios Vomend to the Priesthood 

Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, New York, NY 

January 22, 202

Sebasmiotate, Theofilestate, Honorable Fathers, Family and Friends

Sebasmiotate, Your Eminence, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, I am eternally grateful for the honor and gift to become a Presbyter under your omophorion. Moreover, I have the blessing to witness your leadership and service firsthand at the Archdiocese. In your tireless service, the words of the Psalter comes to mind:

“I will not enter my house

    or go to my bed,

I will allow no sleep to my eyes

    or slumber to my eyelids,

till I find a place for the Lord,

    a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

You serve tirelessly for the Church and people of God, depriving yourself of personal comfort to labor for the ministry of joining humanity with the Holy Trinity.

Moreover, in imitation of the Holy Apostles, and the words of St Paul, you are “in labor and toil, often without sleep and…apart from these external trails, I face daily the pressure and concern for all Churches.”

As the Archbishop and Archshepherd, you set the precedence and example by not only your title, but by your constant example of self-offering for the Church. Like our Lord, God and Savior, in your high position, you never seek to be served but to serve and give your life unto others.

Thank you for your Eminence for not only teaching me Christian leadership by your words and actions, but also allowing me to participate in that same ministry of offering myself into God and humanity.

Words cannot express the thanks and gratitude for all you have done and are doing. To always honor your name and ministry, in my priesthood, I hope to always have your example and guidepost to imitate your self offering and tireless service to the Holy Church.

Theofilestate, Your Grace, Bishop Athenagoras of Nazianzus, you have many mantles that of a prolicent pastor, athonite ascetic, a scholar along with your diverse experiences and ministries.

Although you have raised so high and are of such high caliber, you remain authentic and approachable.

As a spiritual father, I can share to you things as I would talk to a brother, without fear or hesitation. Moreover, as everyone who knows you can profess, there is no task too low and a person too unimportant whom you will not serve and consider.

I am indebted to all your sacrifices and mentorship.

You have and continue to set the bar very high for what it means to be a Christian and clergy. As a spiritual son, you never allow myself to be settled in one step or level, becoming static and content, but always pushing and teaching me to strive for perfection in Christ.

Your guidance does not come with control or heaviness which sometimes is mistaken attached to the monastic life but with the true and pure aim of love towards the Triune God, the Panagia and the Saints. One that is driven by the Spirit of God for the Church and zeal for the holy.

Thank you over and over for all the countless times for your help, your ministry and guidance.

Words are not capable of expressing your impact in my life, for you have been among the greatest influences of service to the Church in the priestly and pastoral setting.

Like with the Archbishop, I pray to return all you have done for me and for the Church, to honor your name and service while I minister unto others, remembering how you treated and guided those whom you serve, most of all myself.

Fathers,  I want to wholeheartedly share my deep gratitude for your support and examples. Everyone's presence fills me with  great joy and honor.

For those present and those not, you have been as the Prophet Daniel declares” shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever and ever.

Fathers, you have been a light and lamp that has guided my path. Your life, actions and virtues fills me zeal for the holy.  From my first spiritual father, who has taught me about the basics of the Christian life, listened to my pains and joys, raised me spiritually and encouraged me to study Theology, to those who at St Vladimirs and Holy Cross, guided and taught me to refine my understanding of God and His Church, those who at the parish level and ministry exemplify virtue, to those at the holy Archdiocese who place their trust and show me their daily kindness. In all of it, you fill soul with holy jealousy

You have been stars on my path to show me the light that shines from our Lord God and Savior, pointing and enlightening the life in Christ.

Without your involvement and ministries I would not stand where I am today.

I THANK YOU deeply.

As Christ taught that “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” I would like to thank my father for though passed, he is fully alive in Christ and present in the service through and in Christ. He has always been my hero and a man who showed me true sacrifice and discipline. Although a man of few words, he taught me a lot by his example. He grew up with a tremendous amount of external difficulties, yet there was no hardship he avoided, no job too difficult, and no sacrifice too great to reach his goal.

Growing older and looking back, I understand how much labor it is to raise children for God and society well. Every sacrifice, the countless hours of work although his body was in pain, pulling me out of bed very early morning to exercise, disciple at work and school, rebuking behavior unbecoming of a Christian make me realize that I have an enormous amount of respect for all he has done to raise myself and a family.

Although he is parted, I always carry him with me.

My mother, the other hero of my life. A mother’s heart has a strength where all strengths pale in comparison. All muscles when driven to atrophy weaken to the point of being unusable. But a mother is driven by the muscle of a mother’s heart. It can never be depleted nor become sore of unending repeated use. It is that which makes you stand all night and work all day even with bodily illnesses, struggle through any pain, cry out to God through difficulties for her children. You are showing all of us your unconditional unrelenting love.

Words cease and even thanks itself is not enough gratitude for your sacrifices. From carrying me in your womb to your night vigil of yesterday to prepare everything for the ordination.

You truly are the reason for my faith in God. You have shown such a radical example of love that I cannot but believe that there is a God who loves so much and dearly.

Growing up, you filled my imagination for the saints and the Church.

I remember you telling me the story of St John the Hut dweller and how he would leave all to carry the Holy Words of God and read them daily.  I remember the stories of St. George the Trophy bearer and how he stood steadfast in temptation emperors raised against his character, and how he would never give in. The stories of the disciplines of St Macarius, the two Roman brothers who would deprive themselves of their needs to give unto the other, always placing God before the self and the ego.

But most interesting to me was the story of yourself. Seeing you so fervent for God and the prayers. Seeing you struggle through your hardships of life yet never complaining or fighting God. Even against all odds, Christ and the Theotokos have been on your mouth and soul.

It is due to you prayers and life and sacrifice that I pray, serve and believe in the good of humanity and have my trust in God.

My friends, thank you for all your love, the laughter, the cries, the trust, the services and truly the good and even the bad times.

As the golden mouth preacher of the Church, St John Chrysostom declares:

“a friend is more to be longed for than the light…for it would have been better for me that the sun should be extinguished, than that we should be deprived of friends; better to live in darkness, than to be without friends. And I will tell you why. Because many who see the sun are in darkness, but they can never be even in tribulation, who abound in friends. I speak of spiritual friends, who prefer nothing to friendship.”

I am thankful and blessed to have each and everyone here. You traveled far and even those who could not come due to Covid or other reasons. I am very blessed and grateful to have you.

You have been friends beyond that of mere acquaintances. You have and are friendships which are founded in Christ for friendship began usually because of one way or another related to the Church and Christ.

It grew because of our common intention and goal and continues to be so. It is a friendship which is rooted in heaven and branches into this world and continues to grow eternally.

I pray that no matter what waters, land, atmosphere, or distance separates us that our friendship continues to grow.

It is a true elixir of life (Wisdom of Sirach 6:16)

 

I cannot thank you enough - the thought and memories that happened and still are still to come, fills my heart with great joy, laughter and strength.

 

GOD:

Growing up I wondered how I repay God for all the things he has done for me.

 

I found the same intention within the 116th Psalter through the  Divine Liturgy and the answer to how I can repay God:

So unto God- From the 116th psalm:

I have nothing to offer for all that I have is of Yours. I am greatly indebted to all Your goddesses towards me. But out of your gifts and from your own, I can lift up your cup of salvation and call upon your life, death and resurrection and give thanks unto You.

 

As Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of Your people. So I offer my body, soul andsSpirit for your most holiest service so that you can guide it in the path of dying to myself and living for you and Your Church.


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