Of all seminarians in their year group, only four graduated from the seminary
In 1967, of the previous century, at the age of eighteen, I entered the Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville. Another nineteen-year-old young man, a shy Ukrainian Canadian named Igor Kapral, who barely spoke Russian, also came there. Frankly, I also could barely speak Russian then.
At the time, our class was considered quite big—it consisted of twelve freshmen. But when we graduated, there were only four of us left: besides Vladyka and myself, the other two who also went through graduation were today’s Archpriest Sergiy Kotar and a monk who, sadly, quit monasticism a few decades later. Besides, Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov, a rector of many years of the St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in New Jersey, studied with us via the correspondence course, but he was a lot older than us. He also successfully graduated from the seminary.
Many left because they couldn’t withstand the challenges and realized that this life wasn’t for them. First of all, if the subject of the study doesn’t interest you, it is really hard to keep studying. Besides, we should keep in mind that the climate in Jordanville is quite demanding—it’s very cold and damp there in winter. On top of everything else, we were expected to practically lead the life of the monastics: attend the church daily, keep to fasts and make do with the meals that were rather scanty to those of the world who are used to eating meat. Some of us couldn’t take it.
In his youth, Igor was a parishioner of the Moscow Patriarchate church in Edmonton, and later became a spiritual son of Bishop Sava (Saračević) of Edmonton. An ethnic Serb, Bishop Sava headed the ROCOR diocese. For, even if we are the Russian Church, we also bring together a great number of other ethnicities—there were and still are the Russians, the Ukrainians, the Belarusians, the Americans, the Serbs, the Bulgarians, the Georgians, the Greeks, the Kyrghiz, the Uzbeks, the Kazakhs, the Koreans, the Azerbaijanis, the Chinese, and the African Americans among our laity, clergy, and even episcopate.