Fr. Seraphim Scheidler (1942 - 2011) was priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, rector of parish of St. Innocent of Moscow in Nashville, Tennessee.
He was born November 25, 1942 in Vienna, Austria of both European and Slavic backgrounds, Father Seraphim, like most Austrians, was born into the Roman Catholic Church, and always considered the Orthodox Church another side of the same coin. As a young man he immigrated to Australia, eventually taking on the citizenship of his chosen homeland.
It was in this country that he came into contact with the Liberal Catholic Church (derived from the Old Catholic Church of Holland), meeting his future wife, Margaret, at a church congress. After extensive study for Holy Orders under the direction of the late Bishop Sten von Krusenstierna, then Regionary Bishop of the Province of Australia, he was eventually ordained a priest serving in various locations in NSW and Queensland for about 11 years.
Father Seraphim has always been an avid reader, and when he found an image of the great Russian Saint, St Seraphim of Sarov, in a magazine, he was inexplicably taken by it, so cut it out and placed it in a frame next to his bed. From this time on, grew such a desire to learn more about Orthodoxy that he reached the point of making the most difficult decision of his life: to request release from his ministry in order to join the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church.
With the commencement of the ceremony taking place on St Seraphim’s Day in August of 1987, he, Margaret, and two of their children, their daughters, Leolie Tatiana and Jasmine Mary, were chrismated at the Orthodox Church of the Holy Annunciation (OCA) in Brisbane.
Although living about 3 hours’ away, they attended there as regularly as possible, as well as the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and occasionally visiting the Serbian and Greek churches. In 1991 the family joined the Antiochian Orthodox Church of St Mary the Virgin in Sydney.
It was also about this time that Father Seraphim’s lifelong studies, interest and involvement in the arts and crafts culminated in his graduating as a studio potter from the College of Art, Lismore TAFE, in 1992.
Ministry in the U.S.
Changes in their lives brought about the decision to relocate temporarily to the United States, and in 1993, Father Seraphim, Margaret and their two daughters arrived in Nashville. Their sons were already independent and living their own lives. The temporary move extended into many more years than originally planned, and both daughters, one with an American born family, eventually moved back to the land of their birth, joining their brothers and their families.
In the meantime, the family was actively involved in the many facets of church life at St Ignatius Antiochian Orthodox Church, even living with the Pastor, Father Gordon Walker and his wife, Khouria Mary Sue, for the first two years. Father Seraphim, in particular, not having a work visa, was able to devote considerable time to helping Father Gordon, most importantly, managing the large church bookstore.
Residing with Father Gordon presented the opportunity to meet and have closer contact with Father Daniel (Byantoro), the founder of the Indonesian Orthodox Church, and in 2004, at Father Daniel's request, Father Seraphim followed him back into the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
In 2005, Father Daniel and Father Gordon (now retired and CEO of Grace Ministries, an important arm of support for Father Daniel's work), asked Father Seraphim to travel to Jakarta, Indonesia, as Father Daniel's representative, for the inaugural Archpastoral visit of His Eminence, Archbishop Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, Diocese of Australia and New Zealand and under whose omophorion Father Daniel and the Indonesian Orthodox Church (GOI) had been received the year before. Upon his return to the United States via Australia, Archbishop Hilarion raised Father Seraphim to the office of Reader on April 16, 2005, at the Church of All Saints of Russia, in Croydon, Sydney.
It is interesting to note that there is a personal link to the land of Indonesia, as Margaret's father was born in Bandung, Java, Indonesia, of Australian and Dutch parents and lived here for the first 13 years of his life. Margaret also looks forward to a closer connection with this country and its people in the future.
Following that time, Father Seraphim functioned as a Reader at the Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, Liberty, Tennessee, under the pastoral direction of Father Gregory Williams.
In 2006, Father Seraphim accompanied Father Gordon Walker to Indonesia once more, to Jakarta and Solo, on the occasion of the second Archpastoral visit of Archbishop Hilarion During that visit he was elevated to the Subdeaconate on February 23, 2006, at The Apostle Thomas Orthodox Church in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Ministry in Indonesia
At the end of the same year, Father Seraphim was informed by His Eminence, Archbishop Hilarion and Father Daniel, that he was to be assigned to visit Indonesia once again, that he was to prepare for serving the mission there, including his ordination to the Diaconate and Priesthood in Sydney, prior to his traveling.
With fear and trembling, Father Seraphim approached this momentous step in his life, while giving thanks to God that he would once more be able to serve Him at His Holy Altar. On Palm Sunday, 2007, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood at St. Vladimir's Russian Orthodox Church, Centennial Park, Sydney (having been ordained to the Diaconate the previous day at St Peter and Paul Cathedral, Strathfield).
Father Seraphim's mission and ongoing prayer is to faithfully serve the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church all the days of his life and he looks forward to further serving his beloved brothers and sisters in Indonesia.
Due to serious illness, Fr. Seraphim moved to Nashville and was transferred to the Eastern American Diocese. With the blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion, Fr. Seraphim founded the missionary parish of St. Innocent of Moscow in Nashville.
January 17, Priest Seraphim reposed in the Lord. He was 68. Fr. Seraphim is survived by his Matushka Margaret, his sons James and Nicholas, and his daughters Tatiana and Mary.