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Dorm rooms get a blessing

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2008/02/04/news/features/doc47a3a27d26251215948314.txt Dorm rooms get a blessing By Jomay Steen, Journal staff Monday,
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 4, 2008
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      http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2008/02/04/news/features/doc47a3a27d26251215948314.txt

      Dorm rooms get a blessing
      By Jomay Steen, Journal staff Monday, February 04, 2008

      As a way to keep their religious ties strong and
      provide a little bit of home while away at
      school, two engineering students asked a local
      priest to bless their dormitory rooms at South
      Dakota School of Mines & Technology.

      Last Saturday, Alexandra Prisjatschew and Nathan
      Priegnitz opened their doors to the Rev. Thomas
      Williams for a Theophany House Blessing in
      Palmerton Hall at the School of Mines.

      The blessings of the two dormitory rooms were a
      first for Williams of St. John Orthodox Church.

      “I’m blessing homes from now until mid-February,”
      he said. “This is the first time that I’ve blessed dormitory rooms.”

      Priegnitz, 19, of Pauls Valley, Okla., initially
      had investigated the idea of the blessing being
      allowed on campus. Once the sophomore mining
      engineer major found out that it could be done, he contacted Williams.

      “It started as a curiosity. Could we get our dorm
      rooms blessed? It then evolved,” Priegnitz said.

      He said the religious ceremony was almost another
      way of bringing his family and their home life
      back to the area. Standing in front of his
      third-floor closet, next to his refrigerator and
      bureau at the foot of his bed, Priegnitz recited
      prayers as Williams prayed and shook holy water about the room.

      “It’s a peace-of-mind thing,” Priegnitz added.
      “It’s also another way of keeping the church going for us.”

      Downstairs, Prisjatschew, a 21-year-old senior
      geological engineering major of Strasburg, Colo.,
      was looking for ways to feel the familiar comfort
      of Christ in her college life while living so far
      away from her family. Traditionally this blessing
      would take place at her family’s home in
      Colorado. It was only natural that she wanted to
      participate in that same religious ceremony in her own room.

      “It is our home when we’re away from home. Every
      year, we do this at home. It’s hard to integrate
      those home traditions. … This is one way to do that,” she said.

      “It helps in our everyday lives,” she added.

      Tied to the baptism of Christ in the Jordan
      River, holy water is taken to the home in a
      golden aspergillum to bless the home, Williams said.

      “It’s a very strong tradition with the Eastern Orthodox Church,” he said.

      “The water sprinkled throughout the home
      represents the water Christ was baptized in,”
      Williams said. “It is a way of recalling the
      presence of God and blessing the home.”

      In a typical home blessing, incense would be
      burned, candles lit and the priest would be led
      throughout the home by a child or household
      member carrying a candle. All the while, Williams
      chants a hymn as he sprinkles holy water within
      the rooms and on the lintel of the door. However,
      for the dorm rooms, he altered the ritual
      somewhat by simply saying the words rather than
      chanting them and standing in one position in the 9-foot by 13-foot dorm rooms.

      “There is a definite connection between the home
      and church, and this will reinforce it,” Williams said of the ritual.

      As Williams concluded his prayers at the
      ceremony, he teased Priegnitz and Prisjatschew
      that it would be traditional for the homeowners
      to invite the priest to dinner. Prisjatschew
      promptly offered to share a snack of crackers and
      cheese, but Williams declined.

      “You’re all set for the year,” Williams said as he left the room.

      Contact Jomay Steen at 394-8418 or jomay.steen@....
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