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An Interview with ARCHPRIEST MICHAEL ROMANCHAK (Class of 1950) Seminarian Matthew Snowden


t was my honor to interview Archpriest Michael Romanchak, a long-time OCA priest now serving a Greek parish in Bethlehem, Pa., for this feature section of the Tikhonaire. I asked Father Michael to recount his years of service in the priesthood. He responded that upon graduation, since he was not yet married, he took an assignment as Choir Director at Dormition of the Virgin Mary Church in Binghamton, N.Y. Two years later, after marrying Julia Knapp, he was ordained to the Diaconate and then the Priesthood, on February 28-29, 1952, by His Beatitude, Metropolitan LEONTY, at the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection in New York City. Parish ministry has not been the His assignment was to serve Liturgy limit of Fr. Michael’s priestly labors. in English and establish a Sunday He served as a volunteer chaplain at School at the Cathedral. the Allentown Psychiatric Hospital After a year at St. Michael’s for 15 years and has been delivering in Syracuse, N.Y., Fr. Michael was meals to the elderly with Meals on sent to Holy Trinity Church in Wheels for nearly as long. He has Catasauqua, Pa., where he served received awards for working with a faithfully for 32 years, retiring on local charity, the United Fund, as the December 31, 1985. Fr. Michael has Orthodox representative. He served remained very active in retirement, as President of the local Orthodox serving as a fill-in priest until 1989 Clergy Brotherhood and served on before taking a position as Assistant the Diocesan Council under Priest at St. Nicholas Greek Archbishop KIPRIAN. Orthodox Cathedral in Bethlehem, Pa., where he continues to serve to Sharing his memories of St. this day. Tikhon’s during his time as a semi40

narian, Fr. Michael reminisces, “The surroundings were very pastoral. All was farmland with cows and horses, which were tended by the monks. The gardens helped to supply the food, which was always wholesome and plentiful. The rooms were sparse and barely adequate. The lack of good accommodations was made up by the enthusiasm of youth. My favorite subjects were liturgics, music, and homiletics. We organized a seminary choir and sang at churches throughout the diocese.” The professor that most inspired Fr. Michael was Father Vasily Amatov, whose stories from his travels and 18-year pastoral ministry in Alaska provided sound advice to hopeful priests. He also treasured his friendship with the monk, Father Afanasy (Shelepoff ), a Russian Athonite monk whose spirituality and love of the Lord inspired the young seminarian. “I do believe his face shone with the incredible uncreated light.” Reflecting on his earliest days as a priest, he relates, “Before serving my first Sunday Divine Liturgy, the first person who came to me for confession was Madame Tolstoy. As the Divine Liturgy began, Professor Nicholas Afonsky and his

2009 Tikhonaire  

The Tikhonaire from 2009

2009 Tikhonaire  

The Tikhonaire from 2009