Clergy - Past & Present
Father Timothy Sas
It is with great joy that I serve the wonderful people of Twelve Holy Apostles Church here in Duluth. Though my ministry here dates back to September 2004, it is just a continuation of the faithful service of 30 pastors who preceded me in the long history of this parish dating back to its official founding in March 1918.
Together with Presbytera Gabriela and our four daughters – Andrea, Casiana, Theodora, and Sofia – we love this parish and the city of Duluth. Our oldest, Andrea, was 4 years old and our youngest, Sofia, was 4 months old when we moved to Duluth so this is definitely our home. We pray that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ consider us worthy to remain in this parish for a long, long time.
In sharing a bit about me in this section of our website, I find that my life story can be simultaneously interesting and unimportant. It may attract interest because my life includes some events, which are atypical, but unimportant because my day-to-day ministry consists of relationships, which are indeed typical. Having said this, I do hope you find it useful in getting to know me.
I was born on April 16, 1973 in the city of Simeria, Hunedoara County, Romania as the oldest of five children in the family of an Orthodox Christian priest. Due to increased persecution at the hands of the Communist regime, my parents fled Romania in July 1988 and ended up in a refugee camp in Sweden. They were well received there and by the grace and mercy of God we, the children, were reunited with them in February 1989. After only one year in Sweden we moved in January 1990 to Vancouver, BC, Canada where my father became the pastor at one of the Romanian Orthodox Churches in Vancouver. Vancouver became home and still has a dear place in my heart. Historical contexts created some turbulence in my teenage years, but I had a wonderful upbringing with lots of fun and excitement. Most importantly, my parents Fr. Aurel and Presbytera Lidia raised me in a most loving and caring family. They were and remain faithful servants of Christ and His people. Their sacrifices for my siblings and I, are immeasurable and I have yet much to learn from their example.
In September 1993 I began undergraduate education at the University of Saskatchewan, but transferred in September 1994 to the University of Manitoba primarily to be able to start taking courses concurrently and participate in the student life at St. Andrew’s Seminary in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I remained in Winnipeg until my graduation from St. Andrew’s Seminary in 1998. This time in Winnipeg has provided me with superb time for growth as a person and particularly in my personal commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. I look back upon those years with great love and still enjoy friendships with people from my time there. Soon after, in August 1998 I moved to Winona, Minnesota at St. Mary’s University where I completed a master’s degree. Though a short time, this also afforded the opportunity for growth in the area of business administration and some international travel. Later I began a Ph. D. program in higher education administration at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, but decided to withdraw before I completed it. It was definitely the right decision for our family and I do not regret it, as I am confident that was not my calling.
The year 1999 is one of the momentous years of my life. On July 11 I was married to the beautiful Gabriela Ioana Chirita. We first met in January 1990 as her family – faithful Orthodox Christians, also being refugees from Communist Romania – were members at the parish where my father served as priest. On the feast of Transfiguration Friday, August 6 I was ordained to the diaconate and Sunday, August 8 to the priesthood by the hand of the late Archbishop Victorin at St. Stephen Church (ROA) in South St. Paul, Minnesota. I began my priesthood at that beautiful small church on the banks of the Mississippi with a small but loving group of people. We still have meaningful friendships at St. Stephen’s Church.
In March 2002, after some unexpected changes, our family of three joined the amazing community of St. Mary’s Church (GOA) in Minneapolis. I became assistant priest to Fr. Harry Pappas as presiding priest; who quickly became like an older brother and remains a meaningful loving friend. The next three years at St. Mary’s Church continuously being aided and encouraged by the experienced pastors Fr. Anthony Coniaris and Fr. Theodore Filandrinos, became a true school of pastoral formation. During our time at St. Mary’s Church the Lord blessed us with the arrival of three more daughters, which was imaginably very difficult. However, the loving support we received from Presbytera Kerry Pappas and the entire community at St. Mary’s Church has been nothing short of heavenly. Many of our closest friendships even today are faithful Christians we have met during our time there.
Although I began serving Twelve Holy Apostles Church in September 2004, we moved to Duluth only in April 2005, as we were expecting our youngest Sofia to be born. The parish here welcomed us warmly but we came with the intent to stay here only a short three years. Clearly God’s plans were different, as we fell in love with the congregation as well as our neighborhood and the city of Duluth with all it has to offer. We feel fully and completely part of the fabric of this parish and the city. The congregation has gone through a few transformations throughout my tenure as pastor, some of them challenging, but all of them have made us a loving family of Orthodox Christians. I, as their unworthy servant, give fervent thanks to God daily for allowing me to be one of them.
Beyond parish work, I have been blessed to work with national office of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship as well as with youth and camping ministry. Currently, those aspects are only a small aspect of my regular schedule. Though I am, at best, a poor musician, I love our liturgical Psaltic (Byzantine) Chant and continue to grow in it. Additionally, I’ve grown through the relationships formed with wonderful priests and deacons in the Minnesota Eastern Orthodox Christian Clergy Association (MEOCCA) in which I continue to be actively involved. The clergy serving nearby parishes form a team whose influence and support is invaluable to me. Some of them, particularly my closest friends Fr. Richard Andrews and Fr. Zoran Savic, have become like family to me.
To further give you an understanding of me, as a person, it’s important to share with you that I am a ‘mostly’ patient and always joyful person in all aspects of my life. I thrive on fun interactions with all kinds of people, always enjoying conversations; though I often run the risk of talking too much. I enjoy a variety of activities beyond my ministry as well. I love music of all genres but I especially listen to songs with poetic creativity in the lyrics. I enjoy cycling and the North Shore is amazing for that, even though the summers are short. I love reading adventure books and watching movies, though I have limited time to enjoy those nowadays. Lastly, I have a great love for the sport of football (the real kind, in which we use our feet to kick a round ball) and am actively involved in the soccer community in Duluth. Traveling to visit new places of – urban and nature – my wife and daughters is one of my favorite activities.
More importantly then anything however, my unceasing prayer is that the Lord God help me to be of usefulness in the lives of the people that He places in my path. My brokenness shows very often in all of my work, but I hope that the Holy Spirit who is ‘everywhere present and fulfills all things’ will complete where I fall short. Glory be to God for all things!
I remain always yours in Christ,
Fr. Timothy Aurel Sas