7/19/2013 - 1 year down, 2 to go!
Greetings again! It was good to see many of you this past Sunday.
It has been a good first year. I am 1 year down with 2 to go. I apologize for not posting an update for a while but better late than never! There has been much going on since my last update.
With this update I figured I would answer some questions that people asked me on Sunday.
How and what is Lent and Pascha like at St. Vladimir’s?
Well, you could say that it is like living in a monastery without actually living in a monastery. The services are longer and more frequent but they are rich and fulfilling. On top of this, we also get to see many different ways that each Lenten service can be served. For example, throughout the year we have many students who are ordained either deacons or priests. This year we had 5 ordinations, 3 of which happened during Lent. Two myths about ordinations that we learned in my Liturgics class is that 1) Ordinations can only happen on Sundays at a Divine Liturgy and 2) they can only happen outside of Lent. Of the 3 Lenten ordinations, 2 were Diaconal at Presanctified Liturgies (one Antiochian style – which occurred at a parish assignment and one Slavic) and the other was done at a Vesperal Liturgy on Annunciation. One of the cool things about this, we don’t get to see this usually in a parish setting. I took videos of the Presanctified Liturgy Ordinations and have embedded them below.
Furthermore, Holy Week and Pascha at seminary are intense. Classes are cancelled. We are either in chapel or at choir rehearsal. By Pascha night, you are so worn out and use to being at chapel all day that the Paschal service seems short in comparison. Overall, the services during Lent and Pascha are rich and rewarding.
How hard is the coursework?
Harder than it needs to be! Just kidding. Joking aside, things are definitely tough here. One of my classmates, who did his undergrad at Oxford, says that workload is much harder at seminary than in England. Each class puts you to the limit and during school year most of my free time goes to studying or writing a paper. Last semester I tried to get ahead in my Patristic class by writing my papers ahead of time. It didn’t work. Even getting ahead only meant more time spent on writing other papers for other classes. Needless to say the work isn’t easy but I can tell you that I’ve learned a whole lot more than I ever knew before going to seminary.
What is the community like?
It is one gigantic bubble where everyone sees everyone every day. (say that 5 times fast.) Because everyone is going through the same difficulties, we all work hard at supporting one another. It is like one big family. We don’t always get along but we always have each other’s backs. There are community meals throughout the year, BBQs and even a Superbowl party.
(I am definitely not into this game at all. Hahaha.)
When someone is moving in or out of seminary, there is always help loading/unloading trucks and pods. If you ever need a ride to the airport, someone is always available to give a ride. The seminary doesn’t leave out anyone. On Monday nights the women will meet over at Fr. Chad’s house and various speakers from all over the world come and teach what life is like as a priest’s wife as well as general involvement in the Church. Occasionally they all get together and go to dinner leaving the kids with the husbands (and recruiting the ones without kids to come over and help too!)
The only really negative thing about community life is that you get close to people and either you leave or they do. That part is tough. Yet, next year we will meet new people and make more friends. So all in all, community life here at seminary is great! Lindsey and I have made some friends here that we will know for years to come.
You are really busy with school but do you ever get time to go into the city or leave the campus?
Of course, there are times when I have some free time or class is cancelled. That is usually when we go into the city to see the sights. We also on occasion will go into the city for an event related to the seminary. For example, Lindsey and I are involved with the Arvo Part project and went with a group to the Estonian House in the city. We also had a chance to travel last year to see a football game in Washington DC and last week, we saw a game at Yankee’s stadium. Everything just depends on schedules and time and making sure to have a date night every now and then.
Final Questions: Who are your favorite and least favorite classes? Professors?
I’ll answer the professor question first. I don’t have a least favorite professor. Each of them is deeply passionate about their trade. They all work tireously to make sure that we know the material presented. If I had to pick a favorite professor, I would probably say Fr. Alexander Rentel. He provides the right balance of humor and understanding for each course he teaches. Because of the way he teaches, my favorite classes are the ones I take with him, especially Liturgics. Liturgics with Fr. Alex is like taking film after a football game. Everything we see in chapel is culminated into the classroom. My least favorite class so far was my class on Paul’s Epistles. It was a tough class and I really had to work hard to pass that class. I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the Epistles prior to that class and it was an eye-opener.
With all everything said, my wife and I would like to thank you all once again for your constant prayers and support. We especially want to thank Fr. John and the Parish Council for their hard work with putting together a financial plan for seminarians. We are grateful for everything that everyone does and we all terribly miss everyone when we are away.
Stephen and Lindsey Osburn
3/1/2013 - The Semester so far...
Greetings everyone! We hope everyone is doing well and Lindsey and I miss you all.
For this installment of our updates, I am going to chime you all into what has been going on since we got back from break.
First, we had the March for Life in Washington D.C in January. It was a great turnout with over 500,000 people showing up! Lindsey was busy taking pictures for the seminary (which I will get into below) while I had the pleasure of walking with all the bishops, including Metropolitan Tikhon and Archbishop Benjamin. We finished the day by having a service for the unborn that have been killed because of this heinous law. St. Vladimir’s also was joined by St. Tikhon’s Seminary and many Orthodox Christians from all over the country. There was even a group of Russians who were visiting on vacation who came and walked with us. It was a great occasion and hopefully we changed the minds of at least some who are pro-abortion. Nevertheless it was worth every step that all of us took.
The next big thing that has happened here was the annual Basketball game against St. Tikhon’s. In a hard fought match and by a score of 39-38, we were able to take back the trophy after 2 straight years of losing. The sportsmanship on both sides was great and everyone had a good time. I didn’t score but I did stop their best player, Fr. Benjamin (who coincidentally also is from the Diocese of the West hailing from Colorado) from scoring and taking the leading during a pivotal point in the game. (I had to foul him to do it but I stopped him. Haha) We prevailed and everyone came back to St. Vladimir’s for Pizza. It was a fun night and we hope to either play them again this year before finals (maybe in Bright Week) or challenge the Catholic seminary down the street.
(I'm number 28)
This past week, on February 20th we met with the Diocese of the West Representatives (forgive me I don’t know their exact titles) Fr. Matthew Tate and Fr. Basil Rhodes. We talked about ourselves, why we are here, what we want to do when we graduate and all of the things you would expect to talk about in this type of meeting. It was a blessing to meet them as they provided us with practical advice and instructions for our time here and how to plan our lives accordingly. After Vespers, all of the DOW students went to dinner with Frs. Matthew and Basil at an Indian restaurant called Spice Village. This was Lindsey’s first time eating Indian food and she wants me to mention that she actually enjoyed it even if it was too spicy. It was a nice night. We laughed, drank some wine, ate some food, and heard stories from the days when they were both in seminary.
Earlier in the update I mentioned Lindsey taking photos (which is another reason you might not see her in any of the photos). She has teamed up with another seminarian’s wife named Leanne Parrot in helping take photos for the seminary. She has already done many events including, SVS vs STS Basketball Game, March For Life 2013, the first liturgy served by a ROCOR Bishop at the seminary, and DOW Dinner 2013. I have hyperlinked all of the articles so you can see her entire gallery. Lindsey really enjoys getting involved here and it has been a blessing she is able to utilize her talents in a way that helps the seminary.
And lastly, I would like to end our update on what is going on with my classes. This semester my classes are really interesting. My music classes are a blast. I expected my LM370 class to be a lot about the musical structure of the services but its really turned into a class about how to handle the music in a parish setting. What do you do if you have to train your choir director? The kind of practical class that really puts you into a perspective of what life on the outside is like. In a sense of it all, it combines the best elements of my Liturgics class and required basic music class (which I challenged out of this semester) and bridges them together in the best ways possible for use in parish life. My other courses are equally intense. For Church History, we just had our midterm covering the Iconoclasm era until right before the Fourth Crusade. Fr. Alexander Rentel, who teaches the course, also gave us the option to publish a blog instead of doing the research paper this semester. I am doing mine on how the Church has been shaped by the conflicts of War. It is not so much on religious wars because I don’t believe that religion causes war but rather that the men who use religion as a tool and weapon have impacted the Church. You can see my blog here at this link: http://osburnfamily.com/churchhistory202/ As far as Patristics goes, we have delved into many different Church Fathers and how their thoughts, conversations, debates and writings have really given us a well groomed theology that we can really embrace. What is furthermore on that is seeing the way the different Fathers debated and discussed issues that we can even use today to relate to. One example is how many Protestants believe in Modalism (seeing the Trinity in different modes like how water takes on the form of liquid, gas and solid) and how this is contrary to the Orthodox understanding of the Trinity. It is these kinds of topics we encounter every day and don’t realize how they relate. In New Testament, we are heavily engaged in the Pauline Epistles. We have spent most of the lectures talking about what Paul said and what he really said and what he really meant (especially in various manners of its relationship to the Jewish Law). As far as the other classes go, Liturgics is great. We are treading away into the Divine Liturgy and how each piece functions. The Arvo Part Lecture Class and Vocal Instruction are equally enjoyable. The Prison Ministry portion of the semester is almost over. We had our last visit today and in two weeks we will meet up and reflect on the ministry as a whole. So I could talk about my classes for far longer than I need to but needless to say, everything in my classes is going well.
In a few weeks Lent begins and things will get intense as I am told, so please keep us in your prayers and we miss everyone.
Stephen and Lindsey Osburn
P.S. Bently is doing well too. :-)
1/21/2013 - First Semester and the coming events
Greetings everyone and Happy New Year! It was good seeing all of you again and we can’t wait till we come back. It has been a little bit of time since my last Seminarian update so this one will be a little longer than usual.
I wanted to spend this particular update focusing more on a reflection of the first semester here at St. Vladimir’s and to give everyone an idea of what else is going on here in the coming semester.
First off, being here has been a huge adjustment for Lindsey and I. Living in the “big city” is something neither one were used to prior to our move out here. It seems like every time we go out it is some sort of adventure. Visiting all the landmarks, trying the unique cuisines, or just finding where to shop for groceries, life here is very exciting and new.
Now onto life at the Seminary and the first semester! We are/have been involved in all sorts of activities at the seminary, including the pro-life group: St. Ambrose Society (I am the Secretary of the group), Arvo Part Project and volunteer at all the special events. Outside of studying, chapel services, studying, sleeping, studying (did I mention studying?), and going to class, my schedule is pretty full. There are so many things to talk about that happened last semester but to sum up a few of them I would say that meeting Metropolitan Tikhon for the first time, kicking off the Arvo Part project with a gala at the Estonian Consultant, and going to the Opera with a group of fellow seminarians were the top of the list (and from a personal side, seeing the Vikings play in DC was as well).
Finally, last week we had the annual Fr. Alexander Schmemann lecture with Dr. Peter Brown. It was a riveting experience and I enjoyed it very much. This week on Friday, we have the annual March for Life in Washington DC that Lindsey and I will be walking in along with the rest of the St. Ambrose Society and Orthodox Christians for Life. The St. Ambrose Society is the Pro-Life group here at the seminary. For my classes this semester, I am taking the 2nd semester of Church History, New Testament, Patristics, Prison Ministry, Liturgics, and 3 Music classes (Arvo Part lecture class, Private Vocal instruction and a musical breakdown of all the services course titled LM370.) I am also singing with the mixed choir now which I am more accustomed with. Other than that, I am looking forward to another great semester here and please keep us both in your prayers.
Stephen and Lindsey Osburn
P.S. Here is a few pictures of Lindsey and I this past semester.
Blessing of the new gym with Metropolitan Tikhon, Fr. Alexander Rentel and many of my classmates.
Myself and my classmate Sandro on Ed Day.
Discussion group for the "It's a Girl" Movie Screening by the St. Ambrose Society.
Outside of our apartment when it started snowing.
Beautiful view of the chapel on the inside.
Who is this happy couple? Hahaha.
10/18/2012 - Life at the Seminary Part 2
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!
Hey everyone! I have spoken to a few of you but I will give the general update to everyone. We are doing well. My classes are going well. We just turned in our first wave of papers last week and this week we had a big presentation on the Didache for Church History.
A few weeks ago we had our annual Ed day here at the seminary. I was on the Greek booth with another seminarian from the West. We were the most popular booth and sold out in the first 2 hours.
It hasn't been all bookwork. Lindsey and I have gotten out to see the city a little bit. (I'll post some pictures at some point) I also had a chance to go see the Metropolitan Opera (they performed Carmen) earlier in the month with a group from the seminary. It was amazing and well worth the trek into the crazy city.
Other than that, things are going well here. I'll keep you all posted throughout the rest of the semester and we miss you all. See everyone in December!
Stephen and Lindsey Osburn
P.S. Congrats to Brian and Juliana. May God Grant Them Both Many Years!
9/13/2012 - Life at the Seminary Part 1
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!
A few things that have been going on:
For my community service, I'm Assistant Sacristan. That means I assist in prepping the chapel for all the services and help altar servers do their jobs. I get first hand experience learning all the services.
I am also getting involved with some of the student groups here. I am student council liaison for the Pro Life group. So my occasional updates might be directed towards that.
Lindsey is doing well. She is involved with the women's group and possibly going to be involved with the Pro life group as well (as her own schedule goes)
I'm also playing on the school's basketball team. We play St Tikhons some time in October.
As far as my studies go, we are in the 3rd week of school. I'm enjoying my classes. It is really cool dissecting our Faith and seeing why we do what we do and how it all happened.
Lastly, I uploaded a video with a brief tour of the seminary. I hope to include more videos in the future.
Miss you all!
As many of you know but for those who don't, my name is Stephen Osburn. I am from Las Vegas and St. Paul's Orthodox Church and I am a first year Seminarian at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVS).
From time to time, I will provide updates on how my journey (or as I like to call "adventure") here at SVS. I will post a little bit about life here at the seminary, as well as photos of various events.
Some time next week I will take a video of the seminary which will be on my YouTube page and this website.
A few of you have been asking me to post some pictures of our trip (drive) to SVS and I will get to that next week as well.
I thank you all for the love and support you have given to my family and I. Please keep us in your prayers and God Bless!
Stephen Osburn Jr.