The Rev. Nicholas Andruchow (SVOTS 2002) and his wife Presbytera Merilynn (Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology Class of 2002) presented a free public lecture at St. Vladimir’s titled “Changing the World: Transformation through Missions with Project Mexico and St. Innocent Orphanage as a Model.”
Held in the Metropolitan Philip Auditorium on campus, the missions night featured the fascinating narrative of how Fr. Nicholas and Pres. Merilynn ended up moving their family of five to the 16-acre orphanage ranch near Rosarito, Mexico, after a series of extraordinary “coincidences.”
In their talks, the Andruchows explained that the process of transformation through missions is a two-way street. On the one hand, they observe dramatic changes in the lives of the boys they serve at the orphanage, and they receive tremendous gratitude from the local families who receive homes built by Project Mexico volunteers. But they also see how the missionaries and interns’ lives are transformed through their sacrifice of time and talent. Hundreds of lay volunteers participate in home building projects each summer, and in the process discover that they are moved to greater commitment, compassion, and service in the Church.
Before undertaking missionary work, Fr. Nicholas spent two years in the Dominican Republic as a member of the Peace Corps. As a single man, he then worked with Project Mexico for three years, establishing a pig farm and teaching entrepreneurial skills to the orphanage boys. Following graduation from St. Vladimir’s Seminary, Fr. Nicholas and Pres. Merilynn spent nine years leading the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Mission Church in Flagstaff, AZ, before moving to Mexico.
Missions Night is an annual SVOTS event that coincides with the Hellenic College Holy Cross Missions Week. Both events are planned and promoted by The Missions Institute of Orthodox Christianity, of which SVOTS Chancellor/CEO The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Dr. John Barnet, are board members.
“Here at St. Vladimir’s, we are longtime supporters of Project Mexico,” said Fr. Chad in his lecture introduction. “In the future, we hope to bring a team of volunteers to assist in the work there.” The Sessional Professor of Missiology at St. Vladimir’s, Fr. Chad has served as a missionary to South Africa and in more recent years, has led numerous seminarian mission trips to Guatemala and Alaska.
Photos by Rami Dahdal