Biographical Information for 2020 Parish Forum Speakers and Contributors
Father Peter Baktis received a BA from Concordia College, Bronxville NY, MDiv from St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, a MDiv and MTh from The General Theological Seminary, and a Master of Strategic Studies US Army War College.
He has served 25 years of active service as an Army Chaplain (COL) retiring 2015. He was the Associate Pastor of the Cathedral Church of the Protection of the Holy Virgin NYC, Rector of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Jamaica Estates and currently the Rector of Mother of God Joy of All Who Sorrow Orthodox Church in Princeton, NJ.
Fr. Peter has published several articles in both Theological and Military Professional Journals. He is currently a board member of the Dialogue Institute, Temple University and second vice president Military Office Association of America Pines and Lakes Chapter in NJ. He is the Orthodox Church in America representative to the National Council of Churches USA convening table of Interfaith Dialogue and is the representative for both the Jewish-Christian Dialogue and Christian-Islam dialogue sponsored by the NCC. He resides in Hopewell NJ.
Father Stephen Frase is the Parish Rector of St. Gregory of Nyssa in Columbus, OH. Additionally Fr. Stephen is the spiritual advisor for the campus ministry groups / Orthodox Christian Fellowships (OCFs) at The Ohio State University, Denison University, and Ohio University.
Along with his parish and para-Church service, Fr. Stephen is a science teacher in the Olentangy Local School District, north of Columbus.
Fr. Stephen and his wife, Matushka Elizabeth, have two daughters - a high schooler as well as a middle schooler.
Fr. Stephen is the clergy co-chair of the Parish Development Forum.
Fr. Paul Jannakos was born in E. St. Louis Ill., and grew up in Golden Colorado. In September of 1976 he began his studies as a pre-theological student at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in NY, also taking courses at Concordia College/NY in Bronxville. He has served at St. Luke’s since December of 2015. In 1980 he graduated from Concordia College with a B.A. in Music. He graduated in 1983 with a M. Div. degree from St. Vladimir’s and was married to Michelle (Julylia) Jannakos in Cleveland Ohio, the year before, in 1982.
Fr. Paul was ordained to the holy priesthood on March 3rd, 1985 by Bishop Boris in Chicago at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral. Since his ordination, Fr. Paul has served in parishes in Minnesota (St. Mary’s Cathedral), Montana (St. Nicholas), and Michigan (Sts Peter & Paul, St. Nicholas, and St. Mary Magdalene). After his four children graduated from high school, he began studies in professional counseling at the University of Detroit/Mercy and graduated with a Masters Degree (MA) in Community and Addictions Counseling (2010).
In addition to his pastoral work at St. Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church for the last 13 years, Fr. Paul also works as a licensed professional counselor (LPC) for Ethos Counseling Group. He served for many years as a member of the Board of Trustees at the Flint Institute of Music (FIM) and the Flint School of Performing Arts (FSPA). He loves to compose music, garden, and fly-fish.
Father Andrew Jarmus was raised in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg, Canada, a Master of Divinity from St. Andrew's Ukrainian Orthodox College, Winnipeg, and a Master of Theology from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Boston, MA.
Ordained to the priesthood in 1992, in addition to pastoral his assignments, Father Andrew spent over 10 years working in church administration, specifically in the area of communications, for both the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada and in the Orthodox Church in America. For 13 years he also lectured at his alma mater, St. Andrew's College.
Father Andrew is the priest at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, in Fort Wayne, IN, a parish of the OCA's Bulgarian Diocese; he is also the diocesan chancellor. In addition, he is the creator and host of "The Kingdom Within" podcast and writes a blog of the same name.
In his off time, Father Andrew and his wife, Kristi, are enthusiastic lacrosse parents.
Fr. Sean A. Levine earned his BA in New Testament Literature, with a minor in Pastoral Care and Counseling, from Oral Roberts University (1993).
After three years in civilian pastoral ministry, he enlisted in the US Army as a Chaplain's Assistant, and after four years in the Army, left active duty for Asbury Seminary, where he completed a MA in Theological Studies (2003) and an MA in Biblical Studies (2008). In 2004, Fr. Sean re-entered active duty as a Protestant Chaplain, and spent two tours in Iraq between 2004 and 2007.
Leaving active duty again in 2007, Fr. Sean attended St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, where he was ordained to the priesthood in 2009, and completed the M.Div. in 2010. He returned to the Army Chaplain Corp in October, 2010, where he continues to serve. In 2017, he received a MS in Marriage and Family Therapy from Texas A&M University--Central Texas Campus in order to serve in his present capacity as the Family Life and Pastoral Counseling Chaplain at Fort Belvoir, VA, where he lives with his wife, Mka Jennifer, and son, Andrew (14). His son, Ethan (21), is a Junior at Texas A&M University.
Fr. Sean is presently a Doctor of Ministry student at Erskine Theological Seminary (expected grad., May 2022).
Archpriest Lawrence Margitich is the rector of the Protection of the Holy Virgin Parish and St. Seraphim Cathedral in Santa Rosa, CA. He earned a B.M. at Berklee College of Music in Boston (class of 1980) and an MDiv from St. Vladimir’s (class of 1984). Before ordination he served as choir director. He is on the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of the West, provides support for the Liturgical Music Department of the Diocese and for the OCA.
Fr. Justin Patterson has been an Orthodox priest since 2005. He attended St. Tikhon’s Seminary. He and his wife, Tamara, completed their seminary studies at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, where they both received degrees in 2005. Fr. Justin and Tamara have two sons, ages 9 and 12.
For the past 10 years, Fr. Justin has served as pastor of St. Athanasius Orthodox Church in Nicholasville, Kentucky. In that time, the community was able to move from a storefront-type existence into a proper church. (Both priest and parish survived a building program!) Constant questions that Fr. Justin and his parish have together responded to each year include: How to organize church education programs for children given available resources? How to provide opportunities for youth when there are few young people? How to balance people’s lives with services and other educational pursuits?
In his years at St. Athanasius, Fr. Justin has worked hard to “go native” in Kentucky. He is active in the community on various boards (School Advisory, City Ethics, and County Food Pantry Boards.) Fr. Justin has come to have a deep interest in Kentucky, its history, and its people.
Fr. Justin is also a musician and enjoys--as a relic from his pre-seminary days--academic study of Soviet history.
Father Kirill Sokolov leads Holy Trinity Cathedral in worshipping God according to the Holy Scriptures and Holy Traditions of the Church, encouraging union with God and among the faithful, coordinating educational and charitable efforts, and ministering to the congregation and wider community.
Father Kirill was ordained to the Holy Diaconate by Metropolitan Herman on Three Hierarchs’ Day 2004 with then-Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev) and more than a dozen priests concelebrating. He was asked to remain a permanent diaconal presence at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. The Holy Synod of Bishops elevated him to the dignity of Protodeacon in 2007, and in 2009, to the office of Archdeacon of the Orthodox Church in America. By 2009, Archdeacon Kirill and his wife Sophia had both graduated seminary, and Father Kirill was serving as Associate Chancellor for Systems and Lecturer in Liturgics at the school. In 2010, the Sokolovs moved back to the Bay Area to be closer to family.
On Bright Saturday 2017, Father Kirill was ordained to the holy priesthood by Archbishop Benjamin. On January 21, 2018, he was appointed Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral. He also serves as Director of Diaconal and Late Vocations for the Orthodox Church in America, is a member of the Office of Pastoral Life, and consults in educational technology, leadership, and research. Father Kirill received his educational doctorate in organizational leadership from Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology.
Father Kirill and Matushka Sophia are grateful to God for their three children (ages 15, 13, and 9).
Father Nicholas Solak is a graduate of Saint Vladimir's Seminary; first in 2002 with an M.Div degree and again in 2008 with D.Min degree. He has been a parish priest at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Stroudsburg PA since 2002 and the Dean of the Wilkes-Barre Deanery since 2013. Since 2009 he has been an adjunct professor at Saint Vladimir's Seminary teaching Pastoral Theology courses and as a faculty member of Saint Vladimir's Doctorate of Ministry program. He is the Program Director of the OCA's Thriving in Ministry Program - a Lilly Endowment funded program establishing clergy and clergy wives peer learning for parish priests and their spouses.
Fr. Thomas Soroka is the rector of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church (OCA) in McKees Rocks, PA, near downtown Pittsburgh, PA and is currently the manager of the Departments of the Orthodox Church in America.
He is a graduate of Duquesne University holding degrees in Music Education and Music Composition. Fr Thomas attended St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, NY and descends from a long line of priests. He has held management positions for major corporations in the area of Learning and Development, and Leadership Training.
Fr. Thomas is the host of Ancient Faith Today Live with Fr Tom Soroka (https://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/aftodaylive) and oither popular podcasts on Ancient Faith Radio, The Path ( http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/thepath) and Sermons at St Nicholas.( http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/sermonsatstnicholas
He and his wife, Matushka Joni, have three daughters.
Father Marc Vranes has been at Holy Trinity in Willimantic CT for 22 years. He is a native of Midland, PA, and was raised at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church.
A graduate of St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary (Crestwood, NY), he is also an IOCC Frontliner. Fr Marc is employed full-time for the Bristol Adult Resource Center as a Program Coordinator, and works as a per diem chaplain for the Hospital for Special Care, a long-term acute care hospital, in New Britain, CT.
Fr. Marc has three grown children and is a huge New York Mets baseball fan.
Fr. NicholasWyslutsky is a 1988 Graduate of Marywood University, Scranton PA with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and graduated in 1989 from St. Tikhon’s Seminary earning a Master of Divinity degree.
Upon graduation Fr. Nicholas remained at St. Tikhon’s where he managed the Seminary Bookstore and press. Under his tenure from 1988 the bookstore was renovated, the first full catalog was published and a point of sale inventory system was developed and implemented. In 1991 he married his wife Elizabeth. In August of 1992 while still working at St. Tikhon’s he was ordained to the deaconate serving as the traveling deacon for Archbishop Herman.
In February of 1994 Fr. Nicholas was ordained to the Holy priesthood and together with his duties at St. Tikhon’s was assigned as rector of Holy Ascension Church, Lykens PA. In December of 1996 he and his family moved from South Canaan, to Olyphant PA where he was assigned as Rector of All Saints orthodox Church. In 1998 he gave up his responsibilities as manager of the seminary bookstore and press.
In July of 2004 Fr. Nicholas was assigned as Rector of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church Mogadore, OH. Over his 16 years in Mogadore together with his pastoral duties Fr. Nicholas has put his computer and technological skills to use upgrading and installing audio and video systems for education as well as a multifunctional video system for the live streaming of services which has been a part of their parish ministry for the past 3 years.
Fr. and Matushka Elizabeth have 4 children Joachim, Simeon, Gabriella and Mary.
Steve Adams is a member of St. Athanasius in Nicholasville, KY where he organizes the live stream ministry of the parish. Steve has grown up with technology, wrestling with computers & associated technology for 40 years. Graduating from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in Computer Science, he has worked for the largest employers and the smallest of startups. He has also integrated technology into the pulpit as a former part time local pastor of the United Methodist Church, in the Christian music arena, and in various youth outreach events.
Tracey (Rdr. John) Edson is the Director of Liturgical Music at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Portland, Oregon. He directs choirs at Alliance Charter Academy and Community Music Center. He is founder and director of KLIROS, a semi-professional mixed chorus that performs quality music for liturgical services. He maintains a private voice and piano studio and coaches voice students at Portland Community College where he coaches a chamber music ensemble. He is looking forward to the re-establishment of live choral music soon!
As the Parish Development Ministry leader for the OCA’s Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania, Joseph Kormos presents workshops and webinars, authors a parish leadership newsletter and helps to create parish tools for stewardship, growth and parish administration. He has served as leader for three OCA Pre-Conciliar Commissions and as a member of the Midwest Diocesan Council.
As a result of travels and in his role as parish development ministry leader Joe has visited 90 Orthodox parishes in the past 10 years. Materials from this ministry can be found at www.ocadwpa.org/pardev.html
Experienced in communication, team building, project management and an ability to conceptualize fresh solutions, Joe has been a product innovation consultant and product development executive.
Joe and his wife Joyce are among the founding members of Christ the Savior – Holy Spirit Orthodox Church in Cincinnati OH where he serves on the stewardship committee and as choir director. They have a son, a daughter, five grandsons and one granddaughter.
Dr. Vladimir Morosan is one of the leading experts outside Russia in the field of Orthodox liturgical music. He is Founder and President of Musica Russica, a publishing company specializing in the publication and dissemination of Orthodox choral music throughout the Western world. He is also the Director of the “Orthodox Sacred Music Reference Library” Project, the largest online library of Orthodox music. As Founder and Artistic Director of Archangel Voices, a professional-level choral ensemble, he has recorded six CDs of Orthodox liturgical music in English; he is also the composer and editor of numerous choral arrangements. He serves as consultant to the Department of Liturgical Music of the Orthodox Church in. A tonsured reader in the Orthodox Church, he currently serves as Director of Liturgical Singing at St. Katherine Orthodox Mission in Carlsbad, California.
Elaine Rentel was raised in the Orthodox faith in western Pennsylvania. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in History from the Pennsylvania State University. In 1973 she and Fr. Daniel and their children moved to Columbus Ohio, where they still reside. Matushka received her Master’s Degree in Social Work in 1982 and worked in the field for many years, including both clinical and administrative positions. She retired from private practice two years ago. She also served for many years as the Choir Director at St. Gregory’s Church in Columbus, having retired in 2014
Phil Tesar is a lifelong member of Archangel Michael Orthodox Church in Broadview Heights, Ohio, where he is currently the Office Administrator at the church and Marketing Director for Woodside Event Center at St. Michaels (parish social hall). Phil’s professional background is in the Marketing & Communications field – where he has worked for a number professional sports teams and non-profit organizations. He is also a graphic designer and web developer and is building his own small business – PT Designs (philtesar.com). He has taken the lead on Live Streaming at Archangel Michael, and is heading a small committee to install permanent and long-term streaming equipment at the church.
In addition, he is active with the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America (FOCA) and serves on the communications committee – handling social media, website and newsletter distribution. He and his wife Natalie (from St. Innocent Orthodox Church in Olmsted Falls, OH) have two children – Malakai and Malia.
Catherine Vrugitz, currently retired, spent the majority of her career in the medical insurance arena. First as a manager then as Vice President of product development. In that position she assisted major companies in developing new products to offer to their customer base. Part of that development included developing a training curriculum to support product delivery along with all quality assurance programs to insure consistent delivery. Her job required extensive traveling, many presentations and ultimately a successful roll out of product. Cathy has a degree from Ohio Dominican University with a major in Psychology. She did graduate studies at the University of Pécs in Hungary, studying the Hungarian Language.
Cathy has been active in the Orthodox Church for almost 50 years, participating in every aspect of the church from education to board president. She is the founder of the Myrrhbearer’s Orthodox Cemetery, an effort which took ten years to come to fruition but is now in place offering comfort to all Orthodox believers. Currently she is an active member of St. Gregory of Nyssa in Columbus, Ohio. One of her main interests is raising money for the scholarship fund.