Deciding to serve God and the Church is a sacrifice, and that sacrifice begins during your time in seminary. Like many other students, I came to seminary already a married man with children. I had a career working at a phone company, I had a house, our family had roots where we were. But the call and desire to serve God is stronger than those roots. In 2005 my family and I arrive at St Tikhon's not really knowing what to expect, or knowing what the next 5 years would hold for us.
St. Tikhon's is a reputable seminary that has produced some of the finest priests this country has known. However, from the beginning of the seminary history one thing seems to have changed - the demographic of students. In the early days and not to distant past, the average student was a young, single man who would finish his studies, go home, find a girl, get married and then get ordained. Today, there are many many students who are older, already married men - some with children. The main problem with this is that St Tikhon's was build to house single students. So, the married students often find themselves living quite a distance from campus in one of the surrounding towns.
For the first 3 years we were one of those families. We reserved an apartment sight unseen, and when we arrived we found a small apartment smack dab on Main Street - literally if you took 5 steps out of our front door you would be standing in the busy road. Other students lived in apartments much too small for their families. I heard of one family with 2 children, who lived in a 1 bedroom apartment. They let their kids have the bedroom and at night the parents would lay a mattress down on the stair landing and would sleep there. Another student rented an apartment in which the floors were so soaked with cat urine, he had to sand the hard wood floors to try and remove the smell.
Our stories are not unique. Everyone who serves the Lord, sacrifices something. Thank God, there are many people who are trying to make this one sacrifice - a suitable living environment for students - less burdensome. The St. Tikhon Married Student Housing Project has been started to establish a family housing complex just down the road from the seminary. Many have already donated to this project, but there is still much work to be done.
As an alumni of the seminary and former married student I pray that this project be completed soon, and in order to help raise money for it I am planning to run a half marathon this October in Cleveland, OH. Please consider sponsoring me for this worthy cause. Pledges can either be a flat donation for the entire race, or a per-mile pledge (half marathons are 13.1 miles). If you have any questions please feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Cleveland FOCA President, Becky Tesar. Thank you and may God reward your generosity!
~ Fr. Joseph McCartney
Archangel Michael Orthodox Church
Broadview Heights, OH