St. Seraphim parishioners celebrate 20th Anniversary of Father John’s Ministry
St. Seraphim Orthodox Church is a center of Orthodox spirituality, culture, and friendly fellowship in North Texas. Some people drive to the Church from Tyler, Waxahachie, even Wichita Falls. Now, for two decades the person who greets parishioners with a Christ-like smile, offers prayers, teaches of Orthodoxy, and conducts services is Father John Andersоn.
The Dallas Telegraph came to the Cathedral to celebrate and to pray together with the parishioners on the occasion of Father John’s 20th Anniversary of ministry. He shared with us about his two decades of service to the Dallas community.
– How did you become a priest?
– I wanted to be a priest since I was 6 years old. I was born and raised as a Roman Catholic. Both my parents are converts. We had a lot of rituals. I was an altar boy. One day I saw a movie about a priest-scientist going to a live volcano. That impressed me. I decided to be a priest-scientist, but I chose to drop the scientist part of it, becoming just a priest –– too many years of college to do both. All through the years I always said, I want to be a priest. It was a hard decision to be married or to be a priest as I was Roman Catholic. Because I could not be good in both, I put the priesthood aside, and then it came back as I become Orthodox.
– Where was this?
– I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and went to Santa Barbara, California to a seminary because it was close to my home.
– Were you ordained in California?
– No, I was ordained here, in Dallas. I served all my 20 years of ministry in Dallas, Texas.
– Why did you move to our city?
– That is where I was needed the most after I finished seminary. It was a good fit for us––for me and my family––and for the parish.
– In the last 20 years what was your most memorable event?
– It was my service to Christ under Archbishop Dmitri’s leadership. It is more than I could ask for. When I came to Dallas, we did not have such a beautiful Cathedral as we have now. Also, the new chapel is almost ready. Now we have a Women’s Monastery in Kemp. It is all God’s work. He stretches us as much as we need.
– Was it easy for you, an Oregonian, to become a Texan?
– I did bring all the trees and waterfalls with me to Texas (at least in my heart), but part of my soul will always be there, in Oregon.
– Father John, please tell us about the parishioners of St. Seraphim Cathedral. The Church is people, not a building. How were they helping you during these 20 years?
– The people of St. Seraphim Church are close to my heart. We have parishioners from all around the world. It is very Pan-Orthodox. There are Slavic people from the former Soviet Union, people from Eastern Europe, and everywhere else. Well, we don’t have parishioners from Australia and Antarctica yet. I have a priest-friend who works in Antarctica. I am jealous.
– Do you have relationship with other churches in the area?
– We have a great blessing in the clergy and people in our area. We fellowship together. It is hard to mention some names, while not mentioning others. There are several missions from the Cathedral and parishes in other jurisdictions. They are good people and very responsive to the needs of the people. We are good friends with a dozen of churches that started here, in our Cathedral.
– Last year we were happy to see you at Armenian Cultural and Food Festival. You spoke with Father Ghevond, a priest of St. Sarkis Armenian Orthodox Church.
– The Armenian Church is less than a mile from our house. It is really convenient to come by. We are good friends with Father Ghevond.
– Today you and the entire St. Seraphim church celebrate 20 years of your ministry. Do you have plans or a vision for the next 20 or maybe 40 years?
– Well, for the next 20 years I sincerely ask everybody’s prayers for God’s guidance and whatever He has in store for me.
– Father John, you have such a great smile. Where does it come from?
– From the Lord!
By Ludmila Taran
Photo by Serge Taran