Leave-TakingsPosted: August 23, 2015
The Feast of the Dormition falls on August 15 every year. The feast’s leave-taking comes on August 23 (also the feast day of St. Irenaeus of Lyons!). On Sunday August 23, Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church is also noting the leave-taking of our second deacon, the Reverend Deacon Joseph Ramos. He is leaving our parish to do a year of special studies at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVOTS) in Crestwood, NY. He is going so to be ordained a priest, God willing.
Deacon Joseph and I, and our families, have known each other for about 15 years. He and I have seen our children grow, and have seen the accumulation of grey in our hair. Fifteen years ago, though we did not know it at the time, we were journeying to the Orthodox Church. However, we both took a detour for a time of ministry together as priests in the Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC). I served as his assistant at Christ the Victor CEC in Puyallup, WA. We briefly parted ways when I and my family left the CEC and were received into the Orthodox Church.
It wasn’t long after my departure that our Lord would move Deacon Joseph and his family to the Orthodox Church. Joseph and his wife, now Matushka Felicity, began their service in our parish as youth directors. He was ordained to the diaconate in May, 2013 by Archbishop Benjamin, and I was delighted to see his ordination and be a part of the company of clergy gathered around His Eminence that day.
Our lives have often followed a parallel pathway. In September, 2006, I too left family and parish to do a year of special studies at SVOTS. I so clearly remember arriving on campus, unpacking in my dorm room, and weeping for two hours. I made monthly flights home for long weekend visits to be with my then younger family. The studies went well and the time went by exceptionally fast. I returned to Holy Resurrection a deacon, then ordained a priest by His Eminence September 9, 2007.
My friend will very likely have his time of doubt and tears while his family is 3,000 miles away. He will complete the academic year and be ordained priest, God willing. Upon his victorious return, one Saturday evening after the completion of Great Vespers, he and I will enter the Sanctuary. I will make my confession at his side before the Altar, and receive our Lord’s forgiveness of sins through his priestly words, God willing.
I will miss my friend and brother, but God will be with him and bless him. Please pray for Deacon Joseph, Matushka Felicity, and their children these next nine months.