Diocesan Seminarians

Priest Peter & Matushka Chelsea (Xenia) Simko

Home Parish: St. Gregory of Nyssa, Columbus, OH

Seminary: St. Tikhon’s Seminary

Year & Program: 3rd year M.Div. student

Fr. Peter hails from Canfield, Ohio, and he grew up worshiping at Saint John the Forerunner Greek Orthodox Church in Youngstown, Ohio.  He served in the altar as a child, and was ordained a reader by now-retired Metropolitan MAXIMOS when he was ten years old. Fr. Peter attended Case Western Reserve University, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and met Chelsea.  Chelsea had been raised in the United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas.  Both ended up becoming members of Campus Crusade and Orthodox Christian Fellowship, in which Fr. Peter eventually served on the national Student Advisory Board.  Upon graduation, they both landed in Columbus, Ohio; Fr. Peter worked as a site civil engineer for several firms, and Chelsea worked as a social worker, eventually getting her Masters of Social Work from The Ohio State University.

In Columbus, the couple attended Saint Gregory of Nyssa, where Chelsea was Baptized and Chrismated in 2012, and where the two were married in January of 2014.  Fr. Peter and Chelsea gradually became involved in a number of parish ministries, helping out with whatever they could.  In December of 2017, after completing the Saint Macrina Institute coursework through the Diocese of the Midwest and the Diaconal Vocations Program, Fr. Peter was ordained to the subdiaconate by His Grace, Bishop Paul.  Fr. Peter is attending Saint Tikhon’s.

Priest Matthew & Christine McDonald

Home Parish: Saint Thomas the Apostle Springfield, MO

Seminary: St. Tikhon’s Seminary

Year & Program: 3rd year M.Div. student.

Fr. Matthew was born in 1981 in San Jose, CA.  He was raised attending mostly Baptist and Pentecostal churches. He first encountered the Orthodox faith at college, when he was brought by a friend to a Vespers service.  He did not begin attending the Church at that time, but a year later began to become more fixated on the idea of a historical Christianity. This led him back to St. Thomas, and he began attending at that time.  After he was married, both he and his wife were baptized and chrismated by Fr. Andrew Moore.  Fr. Matthew and his wife, Christine, have three children.

Fr. Matthew and his family have attended St. Thomas the Apostle since 2005. Beginning in 2013, Fr. Matthew became more involved with serving behind the altar and reading in Church. His wife regularly sang in the choir.

Fr. Matthew now attends St. Tikhon’s and is expected to graduate in 2021.

Deacon Anthony Saunders

Home Parish: Holy Ascension Orthodox Church, Albion, MI

Seminary: St. Tikhon’s Seminary

Year & Program: 2nd year M.Div.

Fr. Anthony (Payton) and Bethany (Martha) are Michigan natives who met as students at Spring Arbor University, where they both earned undergraduate and graduate degrees. Fr. Anthony worked as a math teacher for nine years, first at a therapeutic boarding school, then in public school. Bethany worked as a counselor at a private practice.

Fr. Anthony and Bethany were chrismated on Holy Saturday in 2010, at Holy Ascension Orthodox Church, in Albion, MI. The Saunders have been active participants in parish life: helping with the services, teaching church school, supporting the local OCF, and serving on parish council.

Fr. Anthony and Bethany both come from ministry-oriented families, who first taught them to continually offer their whole lives to God. In 2019, the Saunders moved to St. Tikhon’s Seminary, in South Canaan, PA. Fr. Anthony is expected to graduate in 2022. Father and Bethany have two young girls, Anna and Adelaide.

Andrew Prather

Home Parish: St. Nicholas Mission, Pella, IA

Seminary: St. Vladimir’s Seminary

Year & Program: 1st year M.Div.

Andrew grew up United Methodist in the Des Moines, Iowa metro area. He attended Central College in Pella, Iowa, double majoring in Religion and Computer Science. While at Central, he discovered the Orthodox Church and started attending St. Nicholas Mission. He became a catechumen in 2010 and was chrismated in 2012. After college, he worked for 9 years in Healthcare IT, specializing in PACs. In late 2019, he felt a call to leave his home of 14 years, for seminary at St. Vladimir’s, enrolling in the Master of Arts program in the fall of 2020. He transferred to the Master of Divinity program in December 2020. Andrew is engaged to Amber Bennett of St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church (OCA), Poulsbo, WA.

Joseph Whittaker

Home Parish: St. Andrew Orthodox Church, East Lansing, MI

Seminary: St. Tikhon’s Seminary

Year & Program: 1st year M.Div.

Joseph and Julianna were born and raised near Lansing, Michigan. Joseph attended Great Lakes Christian College where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Theology. Julianna attended Michigan State University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Upon graduation, Joseph and Julianna married and became involved in a local Reformed church where Joseph was a pastoral intern. It was at that time that they began to read more from the writings of the early Church which eventually led to them entering the Catechumenate at St. Andrews Orthodox Church in East Lansing, Michigan. After one year as Catechumens, Joseph and Julianna were received into the Orthodox Church in October of 2016.

They have three children: Juniper (5), Genevieve (3), and Ephraim (1) and will soon welcome their fourth, a baby girl. The Whittaker family moved to South Canaan, Pennsylvania in the fall of 2020 to attend St. Tikhon’s Seminary. Joseph is expected to Graduate with a Masters of Divinity in 2023.

Support our Seminarians!

Use the links below to donate to the respective seminaries. You can make a note on your donation about which of our seminarians that you would like your donation to go to.

Are you interested in attending seminary?

Seminary is not just for clergy, it is for anyone who takes their Orthodox Christian faith seriously and wants to offer that desire to the Lord in service to His Church.

The process for applying is simple, but very personal. Begin by praying, then speak with your parish priest today about your desire to attend seminary. If it is blessed, he will bring your desire to the bishop at an appropriate time and the Lord will take care of the rest.

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