Listen Now. In this episode of Journeys to Orthodoxy, Christy Pessemier interviews Fr. Seraphim Majmudar, who was raised Hindu, converted to Orthodoxy, and is now an Orthodox priest serving at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Tacoma, WA
Fr. Seraphim tells the story of how a trip to India in his youth began to make him question the Hindu faith of his childhood. When he saw the deep poverty, he was drawn to search out answers to why there is suffering and poverty in the world. Eastern religions stress that suffering is an illusion, a belief that Fr. Seraphim could no longer accept. When eventually confronted with the person of Jesus, Fr. Seraphim came to realize that he had to make a decision about who this Jesus was. He recounts how, when he asked God to give him a sign as to what path he should follow, he found a surprising and glorious response.
ABOUT FR. SERAPHIM MAJMUDAR
Fr Seraphim’s parents immigrated from India to the United States in the early 1960’s, and settled in the San Francisco Bay Area. Fr Seraphim was born in 1971, and was raised as a Hindu in the East Bay suburb of Concord, California. He was a swimmer, water polo player and soccer player for most of his youth & adolescence, and attended UC Santa Barbara in the early 1990’s, majoring in Religious Studies.
On his trips to India over the years, he witnessed terrible poverty and suffering. One evening, as he was about to sit down to an incredible meal with his Indian relatives, he smelled smoke from a dung fire just outside the window. Below, he saw a little boy of the same age, whose mother was desperately cooking a few spoonfuls of rice in the dirty lot adjacent to the house. The boy saw him and begged for some of the food from the table inside…and Fr Seraphim’s heart broke and never recovered.
This experience, and others like it, drove him to ask whether there was a God, and if so, was He one of the Hindu gods, or something else? As a result of his studies at UCSB, he eventually concluded that there are only two options: either there is no God and this world is random, or there is a Creator-God who took personal responsibility for human misery. This led to a series of profound experiences which culminated in Fr Seraphim realizing, by God’s power, that Jesus Christ is in fact the true God, and that He did take the sum total of human misery upon Himself at the Cross, and triumphed over it through His Resurrection.
From there, Fr Seraphim searched for a church home, visiting many denominations, until one day, on a skateboard in Isla Vista, he saw an icon with a candle through a window of a building. Making a U-turn, he walked into the building and instantly knew he was home: it was St Athanasius Orthodox Church, home of the well known group of Protestants who found Orthodoxy. Among the clergy there were some of the core leaders of that movement: Fr Peter Gilquist, Fr Jon Braun, Fr Jack Sparks, Fr Richard Ballew and others. About a year later, Fr Seraphim was received into the Orth0dox Church on Holy Saturday, 1993.
After completing his Master’s degree, he moved back to the Bay Area, where he was a teacher at Ss Peter & Paul Academy in Ben Lomond, California. There he met and instantly fell in love with his future bride, Sophie Sethre, and they were married in 1997. They now have five children.
Fr Seraphim was ordained to the diaconate and holy priesthood in the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem in 2000. He served in California until 2005 when the family headed to Pennsylvania to attend St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, from which he graduated in 2008.
After seminary, the family moved to the beautiful island of Cyprus, where he served under His Eminence, Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol, serving the beloved sisters of Panagia Amasgous Monastery in Monagri. The family returned to the United States in 2009. His Eminence, Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco assigned Fr Seraphim to the holy church of Saint Nicholas in Tacoma, Washington, where he continues to serve as the presiding priest.
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