Meeting With Our New Chaplain

St. Nicholas Church Iconostasis
St. Nicholas Church Iconostasis

Dear Friends,

Patience is said to be a virtue, and good things supposedly come to those who wait. We at Gregory the Great Academy now find proof in these maxims as we see them come true in our midst.

As many of you know, after over a year of searching for a chaplain, we found a willing priest who was able to secure permission from his superiors. I would like to share with you my initial impressions and introduce you to the man, Fr. Michael Salnicky. Father is a man of great faith and experience, and our school is immensely blessed to have him taking on our spiritual needs for this upcoming year.

Last Thursday I traveled with Mr.’s Fitzpatrick, Culley, Smith, and Prezzia to St. Nicholas Church in Pocono Summit for a meeting with our new chaplain. Even though I had been told what to expect, I didn’t entirely realize what was in store. After reciting the Angelus in front of the church, we made our way to the door and were greeted by a short and jolly looking priest. He met us with a big smile and hearty handshakes all around. It was a good first impression.

Fr. Michael introduced himself and then asked to each of us to talk a little about our backgrounds and academic subjects. As we went around the table talking about our individual places in the GGA program, it was immediately apparent that he was conversant in nearly every course we teach, and in complete agreement with our focus and goals. The education that a Classical Liberal Arts school in the Catholic tradition can bring was clearly as important to him as it is to our community. He also discussed his own academic and vocational background, which was peppered with interesting tales of sail boating and safaris.

Upon learning I was the music teacher, Father immediately jumped up and ran into a back room. He returned with a copy of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and cheerfully presented it to me. The book contains much of the music to be used in the Liturgy and is a great resource for me to use as we integrate it into the Sacred Music Program. As it turns out, he and one of his parishioners are heavily involved with the Eparchy’s cantor school and are quite willing to help us become familiarized with the Divine Liturgy. Father also expressed his support for Byzantine Znamenny Chant and singing in Church Slavonic. This is an incredible blessing that will allow the Academy to really explore the musical riches of the Christian East! (To those who wonder if this means we will no longer study Gregorian Chant, Sacred Polyphony, and traditional western hymnody, let me appease those fears. They will continue alongside this new music in the same vein our community has come to know and love.)

After our meeting, we all made our way to the Carpathian Village, an Eparchial retreat center where Father makes his residence, which is about fifteen minutes from the Church and ten from Chestnut Grove Resort. The Village is an eighty acre retreat center and Shrine with potential to host a myriad of activities. It has has plenty of camping areas, cabins, an industrial kitchen and pavilion, and outdoor shrine. It also hosts several of Father’s big game trophies from his many hunting and safari trips! It is possible that we will be making use of these facilities from time to time thanks to Father’s generosity and enthusiasm. God is good.

I think I speak for all my fellows when I say that this meeting left me incredibly excited about the elements Fr. Michael and his parish will bring to the liturgical life of the Academy. The truth is, while many of us are familiar with the traditions of Eastern Christianity, we aren’t at home in it. That may be changing. We have been blessed, friends, and are ready to traverse the Carpathian Mountains together!

Of course while we are incredibly excited at all of the new opportunities before us, we need your help to keep this project going. Even small donations of $20 a month, for example, can help pay the gas money needed to send the Highlanders to special Masses and musical performances throughout the region. It will help us provide the best equipment for the sports program, materials for our classes, and so much more. Please consider a monthly donation today, no matter how small, by visiting our website. We are very grateful for the support and faith of our community of friends. Be assured of our prayers for you all!

Fraternally in Christ,
Matthew Williams

Photos from our visit.

Outdoor Shrine at the Carpathian Village
Iconostasis at the outdoor shrine
Rear view of the shrine
Father Michael’s trophy Elk