Eastern Orthodox service held at Joan of Arc Chapel

Last Thursday, tucked away in the Central Mall, the Rev. John  Jones led the first Vespers service of the year in the St. Joan of Arc Chapel. Vespers is the first service in the liturgical day of the Eastern Orthodox churches, and is usually celebrated at sundown every day.

The theme of Vespers is the “Light that dispels the darkness,” according to a handout from the service. Traditionally in monasteries, other services are then held throughout the night, Jones said.

“Vespers is a time where people can take a break and stand in the presence of God to heal,” Jones said of the service that included call-and-response prayers.

Jones said this is a service that can rejuvenate people for the rest of the day.

“I want people to take away the beauty of the liturgy,” Jones said. “Draw people into the presence, the profound beauty of the relationship with Christ to the world.”

The Vespers service is part of the Orthodox liturgical cycle, which is organized into eight themed “tones” or “modes,” according to the handout.

Agust Magnusson, a graduate student in the College of Arts & Sciences who attended the service, said it is nice to have a few peaceful minutes at the end of the day.

Magnusson said the Vespers service is an important part of the Orthodox religion. It shows the presence of the Orthodox Church on campus and the services available to Orthodox students, he said.

“It is great to have the opportunity to worship on campus,” Magnusson said at the service.

J.J. Kotalik, a first-year graduate student in the College of Arts & Sciences, heard of Vespers through Jones, his advisor.

Kotalik attended Vespers services as an undergraduate at Seattle University, but this was the first Vespers service he has attended at Marquette.

“It is nice to have these services because it allows other Orthodox Christian students to get to know each other and worship together,” Kotalik said.

Marquette has an Orthodox Christian Fellowship student organization, which co-sponsors Vespers services.

Magnusson, president of OCF, said in an e-mail the group’s purpose is to foster the spiritual life of Eastern Orthodox students and those who are interested in the spirituality of the Eastern Orthodox churches.

OCF has not yet met this semester, but members meet regularly for Bible study, prayer, shared meals, and discussions, Magnusson said.

The next Vespers service will be held Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. in the St. Joan of Arc Chapel.

“Vespers are open to anyone to worship, not just Eastern Orthodox,” Jones said.

Jones said there would be six Vespers services this semester, but he would like to see that number increase with the new OCF chapter.