With the joy of Pascha radiating through the parish community, St. Elijah Serbian Orthodox Church in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania held the first Healthcare Day Seminar on Saturday, April 29, 2023. The seminar’s theme was Healing of Body, Mind and Spirit.
St. Elijah Parish Priest Economos Father Branislav Golic opened the seminar with the Troparion of Pascha and introductory remarks. Father Branislav and active parishioner Dr Scott Michael Newton organized the seminar to discuss healthcare topics from an Orthodox Christian perspective. Dt. Newton served as the moderator for the seminar throughout the day.
Father Golic graduated from Sremski Karlovci Seminary, St. Sava School of Theology and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. He works throughout the year to expand and enrich the life of the St. Elijah Parish. The Healthcare Day Seminar is evidence of his continued efforts at parish growth.
Dr. Scott Newton has 35 years of experience in healthcare as a registered nurse and paramedic. Included in his extensive education and experience are three degrees in nursing including a doctorate in nursing practice from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Newton served as Director of Emergency Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
The seminar began early in the morning and continued throughout the day.
The first speaker was Protodeacon Dr. Michael Wusylko, a medical internist now working in hospice care. Protodeacon Dr. Michael spoke on the topic Faith and Hope during Hospice Care. Protodeacon Dr. Michael is the Associate Director of Good Samaritan Hospice Heritage Valley Hospital. He elaborated on the importance of faith-based hospice care and the positive impact on the patients. The Protodeacon’s message was clear in saying hospice care did not hasten death. Protodeacon Dr. Michael serves at the St. Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral in Allison Park and is on the Board of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.
Mr. Dan Zeljak, an experienced commercial airline pilot with US Airways and the current American Airways. He is a faithful St. Elijah Church parishioner. Mr. Zeljak described with great power his faith experience during multiple surgeries to endure and to overcome serious medical conditions in his life. Faith during a Personal Healing Journey was the theme of Mr. Zeljak’s talk.
Deacon Dr. James Rossetti was the third featured seminar speaker. He addressed the topic of Presence, Repentance and the King of Glory Amidst Illness and Dying. Deacon Dr. Rosetti combined his medical research with theological references during his talk. Protodeacon James is a UPMC hematologist specializing in hematological malignancies and myeloid diseases. He cited numerous Orthodox authorities. Deacon Dr. Rosetti serves at the St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in New Kensington.
Shamassy Kari Rosetti serves as the Clinical Administrator for the Free Health Center of the Neighborhood Resilience Project.in the Pittsburgh Hill District. She has a rich and varied nursing background. Shamassy Kari Rosetti informed the seminar attendees of the Free Health Center’s providing primary care and dental care to the needy. Director Rosetti noted the need for more volunteers to advance the work being done.
At the conclusion of the morning’s program, a nourishing luncheon served by St. Elijah parishioners strengthened the attendees before the afternoon proceedings. The luncheon afforded the opportunity for additional discussions
The afternoon began with the talk by Mr. Gary Stanich. Mr. Stanich, has a wealth of experience from his 41 years as a nurse anesthetist. It was easy for him to speak on the theme of Reflections of a Nurse Anesthetist on Healing. Mr. Stanich mentioned often the times he would sit in church when considering important decisions in his life. Mr. Stanich is a Serbian Orthodox Christian and serves as the President of the Board of Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Church in Steubenville, Ohio. He served as Chief Nurse Anesthetist and Director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program at UPMC Presbyterian and was a clinician at UPMC Shadyside. He was Nurse Anesthetists Clinician of the Year in 2000.
Mr. Dan Emerick was the second speaker in the afternoon. Mr. Emerick has graduate degrees in theology and social work. He operates the trauma response unit at the Neighborhood Resiliency Center in Pittsburgh. The program responds with trained staff in mobile unit to neighborhood trauma locations linked with gun violence. The trained trauma team seeks to bring healing and peace to trauma affected areas. The theme of Mr. Emerick’s talk was Trauma Response Unit and Community Resilience Ministry.
Father Rodney Torbic was the final afternoon speaker. He addressed the history of nine Healthcare Day Seminars at St. George Church in Carmichaels during his time as the parish priest. Thoughts were also offered for parishes on prison ministry and mental health ministry. Father Torbic has extensive experience as a criminal justice professional in addition to having three graduate degrees.
Throughout the day Father Branislav commented on each of the talks and the relevancy of the contents to life of the Church. Dr. Newton supplemented the presentations with insights from his extensive background. As moderator he kept the proceedings moving.
The seminar attendees had the opportunity to ask questions of the presenters and comment following each talk. The questions and comments allowed time for elaboration and refinement of remarks.
The seminar concluded with an Akathist to the Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon. Protodeacon Dr. Michael Wusylko enriched the seminar by bringing an icon of St. Panteleimon containing the saint’s relics. The icon with the relics was present throughout the seminar. Attendees had the opportunity to venerate the icon at the Akathist.
The atmosphere of this full-day seminar was filled with great power and demonstration of Christian commitment. Professional views shined light on important healthcare topics spurring interest and discussion. Thank God for this Healthcare Seminar, for the organizers and the participants. Thank God for all who attended and helped in any way.
Father Rodney Torbic