On Great and Holy Thursday, during the Vesperal Liturgy of Saint Basil, Joseph Robert Wesseler was ordained to the Holy Diaconate by His Grace Bishop Irinej of Eastern America of the Serbian Orthodox Church at St. Vladimir’s Seminary in Crestwood, NY.
The newly-ordained Deacon Joseph is a third-year seminarian hailing from the Diocese of Western America with his home parish being St. Peter the Apostle Serbian Orthodox Church in Fresno, CA. He is expected to graduate with a Masters of Divinity in May.
Deacon Joseph is an active and well-respected member of the St. Vladimir’s community and many of his fellow seminarians attended the ordination service. Deacon Joseph was accompanied by his wife Anastasia and their two children, Thanasi and Sebastian.
As the service began, the windows of the Three Hierarchs Chapel at St. Vladimir’s were opened to allow for the cool spring air and the fresh flowery scents of a new season to seep inside, signaling to the congregated faithful of the looming death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
It was then that His Grace Irinej reminded the St. Vladimir’s community of the approaching Pascha, while reflecting on the sacred journey of Lent and the call for Christian renewal of matter and humanity itself by explaining the natures of God and man within Our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the teachings of St. Maximos the Confessor, and in light of the Eucharist offered “on behalf of all and for all”!
For the newly-ordained Deacon Joseph, the day was one he will cherish as part of his many memories of St. Vladimir’s.
“It seemed to go very quickly, and I was incredibly nervous the entire time,” Deacon Joseph said afterwards. “Bishop Irinej actually calmed me quite a bit with how charismatic and personable he was during the ordination, and I've had several classmates comment on how 'cool' he was during the ordination. I still feel incredibly honored to have been called to the diaconate, and to have Bishop Irinej perform my ordination. It is a day my family and I will remember forever, and marks a turning point in my life. I look forward to being of use to my Bishop, Maxim, and hope to make my home-priest, Father George, proud.”
The newly-ordained anticipates the road ahead being one of service to Our Lord and to the Holy Church as the cries of “Axios!” filled Three Hierarchs Chapel as he was vested to his rank by His Grace Irinej.
Afterwards, His Grace — himself an alumnus of St. Vladimir’s —was able to celebrate a Lenten lunch with the St. Vladimir’s faculty and students
The liturgy was also served with Fr. Chad Hatfield, Chief Executive Officer of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, Fr. John Behr, Dean of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, Fr. Alexander Rentel, Fr. David Mezynski, Fr. Paul Girgis, Fr. Sasha Nedic and Fr. Seth Earl along with Deacons Gregory Hatrak, Daniel Greeson, Christopher Moore, and Larry Soper.
Photos: Djakonitsa Adrienne Soper