The Path of Kyriaki-Fevronia Ka’akau
by Kyriaki-Fevronia Ka’akau
If someone told me four years ago that I would become Orthodox I would have suggested psychological testing! Before moving to Washington in 1996, I was a Protestant for 26 years, hopping from one church to another. There was always something missing but I couldn’t identify it. My marriage of 16 years failed so I decided to “take a break” from anything church related, move to Washington with my son and start over.
After being there for nearly a year, I quit one security job and was hired for another company. My new boss, Pete, was a big bear of a man with a wonderful sense of humor and the ability to speak the language of his ancestry which I had always wanted to learn—Greek!
To a background in Hawaiian, Hebrew, Latin, French, and American Sign Language I wanted to add Greek, especially since the New Testament was written in it. When Pete suggested I call one of the Greek Orthodox churches in Tacoma I had no idea what to look for. I “let my fingers do the walking” and arbitrarily chose St. Nicholas.
I know that the Holy Spirit led me to choose that parish. I inquired about Greek lessons and the woman took my name and phone number. A few days later Despina Kipelidis called me. That was the beginning of my adventure!
During my Greek lessons, we would talk about spiritual things and she would answer my questions about Orthodoxy with as much zeal as I had as Protestant. She loaned me books like St. Seraphim of Sarov, Mother Macarius, etc. Being the “good Christian” that I was, I checked everything against scripture. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t getting into something strange or something that went contrary to what I knew scripture taught.
I could find nothing wrong but it took a while to get used to certain theological issues such as the rightful position of the Holy Mother, and the transformation of the break and wine into the Body and Blood of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ. Once I started attending services— first at St. Nicholas and then at Holy Resurrection (OCA)—1 began finding what had been missing in all the other churches I attended—WORSHIP and REVERENCE.
I was relieved in what I found in Orthodoxy. There was no “show” or a need to “entertain” to attract new believers. I found meaning in everything that was done in the Liturgy and at home. It was comforting. I had come home.
The traditions in Orthodoxy are passed down from the Apostles themselves and there is the desire for more spiritual discipline. There is a right way and a wrong way to worship, dress, pray, fast, etc.
And I found people who wanted to do it right. I had been covering my head for 19 years and for the first time I wasn’t the only (outside a messianic congregation)! There is consistency. There is a cycle. But make no mistake about one thing; there is just as much, if not more, emotion. These traditions are in no way dead or boring! I discovered in Orthodoxy that which so many other Christians have forgotten. After several months of being a Catechumen I was baptized. My Godmother is Fevronia Prodomidou from Kavala, Greece.
I chose the name Kyriaki, after my Greek teacher’s aunt so I actually have TWO names; Kyriaki-Fevronia.
I have been Orthodox for a little over a year now and thought it would be wonderful if my family, especially my son, became Orthodox, it’s God’s job to enlighten them the same way He enlightened me. I’m just in awe of the way He blessed me and helped me find my way home!
Born in Vienna, Austria of both European and Slavic backgrounds, Father Seraphim, like most Austrians, was born into the Roman Catholic Church, and always considered the Orthodox Church another side of the same coin. As a young man he immigrated to Australia, eventually taking on the citizenship of his chosen homeland.
It was in this country that he came into contact with the Liberal Catholic Church (derived from the Old Catholic Church of Holland), meeting his future wife, Margaret, at a church congress. After extensive study for Holy Orders under the direction of the late Bishop Sten von Krusientierna, then Regionary Bishop of the Province of Australia, he was eventually ordained a priest serving in various locations in NSW and Queensland for about 11 years.Conversion
Father Seraphim has always been an avid reader, and when he found an image of the great Russian Saint, St Seraphim of Sarov, in a magazine, he was inexplicably taken by it, so cut it out and placed it in a frame next to his bed. From this time on, grew such a desire to learn more about Orthodoxy that he reached the point of making the most difficult decision of his life: to request release from his ministry in order to join the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church.
With the commencement of the ceremony taking place on St Seraphim’s Day in August of 1987, he, Margaret, and two of their children, their daughters, Leolie Tatiana and Jasmine Mary, were chrismated at the Orthodox Church of the Holy Annunciation (OCA) in Brisbane. Although living about 3 hours’ away, they attended there as regularly as possible, as well as the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and occasionally visiting the Serbian and Greek churches. In 1991 the family joined the Antiochian Orthodox Church of St Mary the Virgin in Sydney.
It was also about this time that Father Seraphim’s lifelong studies, interest and involvement in the arts and crafts culminated in his graduating as a studio potter from the College of Art, Lismore TAFE, in 1992.
Ministry in the U.S.
Changes in their lives brought about the decision to relocate temporarily to the United States, and in 1993, Father Seraphim, Margaret and their two daughters now aged 16 and 14 arrived in Nashville. (Their sons were already independent and living their own lives.) The temporary move extended into many more years than originally planned, and both daughters, one with an American born family, eventually moved back to the land of their birth, joining their brothers and their families.
In the meantime, the family was actively involved in the many facets of church life at St Ignatius Antiochian Orthodox Church, even living with the Pastor, Father Gordon Walker and his wife, Khouria Mary Sue, for the first two years. Father Seraphim, in particular, not having a work visa, was able to devote considerable time to helping Father Gordon, most importantly, managing the large church bookstore.
Although not able to pursue his love of pottery, he was fortunate enough to be able to participate in several Iconography workshops by Master Iconographers Phil Zimmerman and Ksenia Pokrovsky.
Residing with Father Gordon presented the opportunity to meet and have closer contact with Father Daniel Byantoro, the founder of the Indonesian Orthodox Church, and in 2004, at Father Daniel’s request, Father Seraphim followed him back into the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
In 2005, Father Daniel and Father Gordon (now retired and CEO of Grace Ministries, an important arm of support for Father Daniel’s work), asked Father Seraphim to travel to Jakarta, Indonesia, as Father Daniel’s representative, for the inaugural Archpastoral visit of His Eminence, Archbishop HILARION of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, Diocese of Australia and New Zealand and under whose omophorion Father Daniel and the Indonesian Orthodox Church (GOI) had been received the year before. Upon his return to the United States via Australia, Archbishop HILARION raised Father Seraphim to the office of Reader on April 16, 2005, at the Church of All Saints of Russia, in Croydon, Sydney.
(It is interesting to note that there is a personal link to the land of Indonesia, as Margaret’s father was born in Bandung, Java, Indonesia, of Australian and Dutch parents and lived here for the first 13 years of his life. Margaret also looks forward to a closer connection with this country and its people in the future.)
Following that time, Father Seraphim functioned as a Reader at the Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, Liberty, Tennessee, under the pastoral direction of Father Gregory Williams.
In 2006, Father Seraphim accompanied Father Gordon Walker to Indonesia once more, to Jakarta and Solo, on the occasion of the second Archpastoral visit of our beloved Hierarch, Archbishop HILARION During that visit he was elevated to the Subdiaconate on February 23, 2006, at The Apostle Thomas Orthodox Church in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Ministry in Indonesia
At the end of the same year, Father Seraphim was informed by His Eminence, Archbishop HILARION and Father Daniel, that he was to be assigned to visit Indonesia once again, that he was to prepare for serving the mission there, including his ordination to the Diaconate and Priesthood in Sydney, prior to his traveling.
With fear and trembling, Father Seraphim approached this momentous step in his life, while giving thanks to God that he would once more be able to serve Him at His Holy Altar. On Palm Sunday, 2007, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood at St Vladimir’s Russian Orthodox Church, Centennial Park, Sydney (having been ordained to the Diaconate the previous day at St Peter and Paul Cathedral, Strathfield).
Father Seraphim’s mission and ongoing prayer is to faithfully serve the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church all the days of his life and he looks forward to further serving his beloved brothers and sisters in Indonesia.