Reflection: “Inner Work of my Heart now had a new Outward Manifestation”

BURBANK, IL [DOM Communications] – The Diocese of the Midwest utilizes the month of September to focus on providing support for the diocesan seminarians. With the launch of the “S.O.S. – Support Our Seminarians” campaign, we would like to share the following reflection with our audience. Donations collected during this month go directly to supporting the diocesan seminarians who are actively preparing for parish ministry.

Individuals are encouraged to donate through their parishes, by mailing a check to the diocese, or online.


Diocese of the Midwest
5037 W 83rd St
Burbank, IL 60459


Deacon Anthony Saunders
Summer Internship Reflection

I interned this past summer under the supervision of Archpriest Michael Demko, at Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church, in Berwick, PA. It was truly a blessed, joyful, and edifying experience to temporarily step out of academic life and into parish life. At the seminary, we learn and experience so much, but for the first two years the application is mostly personal – within one’s own heart and home. And this is of course as it should be – no one can give without first having received. 

When my internship began, I went from being just another guy in a cassock going about his day, to a co-minister with Fr. Michael, serving real people. On more than one occasion, people I had only just met talked with me about some of the most beautiful, and most difficult things of their lives. Nothing about seminary was theoretical anymore. Suddenly all the early mornings trying 

to pray, all the hours standing in church, all the classes, reading, and papers came to this: what had I managed to receive and hold onto? Had I retained any of the grace made available to me day after day? 

Under Fr. Michael’s supervision, I served at the altar, preached, taught catechism, and accompanied him on visitations. Perhaps there is nothing particularly remarkable about those things on the surface, but many of the most impactful experiences of my time at seminary quietly happened as I carried out those tasks. The ongoing inner work of my heart now had a new outward manifestation: my heart was tied to those of the parishioners. Our struggle toward salvation was connected. 

My internship was busier than I expected, and at times quite difficult, but it turned out to be a breath of spiritual air I didn’t know I needed.

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