The Orthodox Chapel of the Transfiguration, located on the campus of Princeton University, is a unique facility of the Orthodox Church in America's Diocese of New York and New Jersey. Neither a full "parish" nor a "mission", this institution was founded in 1964, and services not only University undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty of various ethnicities and jurisdictions, but also townspeople and members of other local educational institutions. Services are held (in English) during the academic year.
In the early 1960's, a group of Princeton students formed the Orthodox Christan Fellowship of St. Photius on the University campus. This initial group would meet informally and would travel to nearby Orthodox parishes on Sunday mornings. An occasional service would be held on campus by visiting clergy.
September, 1964 marked the first Orthodox Liturgy held on a regular basis on the campus, with a room in Murray Dodge Hall serving as the Orthodox Chapel of the Transfiguration. Father Constantin Buketoff, recently retired from his parish in Brooklyn, served as the first pastor of the Chapel, but illness curtailed his service before the academic year ended. In August, 1965, Prof. John Turkevich (Eugene Higgins Professor of Chemistry at Princeton) was ordained and appointed Orthodox Chaplain. He served in that post for 24 years, until 1989, and passed away in March, 1998.
During our history, the Orthodox Chapel and the OCF have welcomed a host of Orthodox prelates, dignitaries and faithful from all parts of the globe. On several occasions the OCF sponsored services which filled the University Chapel to its capacity of 2,000+ . For more than a decade Father Georges Florovsky, the eminent Orthodox theologian, participated regularly in the liturgical life of the Transfiguration Chapel. Biblical scholar Georges Barrois also considered our Chapel his spiritual home. OCF sponsored lecturers and guests have included Nicholas Zernov, Father Alexander Schmemann, Father John Meyendorff, Father Thomas Hopko. Two future bishops served regularly in our Chapel during their studies at the University and PTS: Fr. Ireneu (the present Archbishop of Alba Iulia, Romania), and Fr. Ambrose (now Metropolitan Ambrose presently Metropolitan of Korea.) Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, world-renowned Orthodox theologian at Oxford, was among the founders of our original OCF during his post-doc years at Princeton. To honor Fr. Georges Florovsky for his years at Princeton, the Chapel/OCF sponsors the Florovsky Memorial Lecture; speakers have included Bishop Kallistos, Prof. Jaroslav Pelikan, Prof. Oleg Grabar, Prof. Peter Brown, iconographer Vladislav Andrejev, and Archbishop Michael.
Transfiguration Chapel serves not only the Princeton OCF undergraduates and graduate students, but also local Orthodox faculty and townsfolk, including members of Princeton Theological Seminary, the Institute for Advanced Study, Westminster Choir College, Rider University, and TCNJ. The congregation has included members from various Orthodox jurisdictions: Albanian, Antiochian, Bulgarian, Coptic, Georgian, Greek, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Ukrainian and the Orthodox Church in America. The Sunday Divine Liturgy, celebrated each week at 10:00 a.m. during the academic year, is served almost entirely in English, with responses sung by a four-part choir. Aside from Sunday Liturgies, services are held at Christmas, the Eve of Epiphany (with the Great Blessing of Water), Wednesdays of Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha.
The present Orthodox Chaplain, Father Daniel Skvir '66, one of the founders of the Princeton OCF and Chapel, has served in that capacity since January, 1989. He is assisted by Father Joseph T. Gall. In addition to Bishop Kallistos, two other founders have entered the priesthood: the Very Rev. Arthur Liolin (Chancellor of the Albanian Diocese of the OCA) and Rev. Anatole Lyovin, a ROCOR priest in Hawaii. Other ordained Princeton alumni include Fr. Gregory Winsky, Deacon Joseph Carter, Father Iosif Bena, and Father Kevin Kalish. Princeton OCF graduates Constance Charnas '84 (Sister TheodotI) and Maria Natsis '84 (Sister Antonina)are tonsured Orthodox nuns.
Orthodox Christian Fellowship meetings are held regularly on campus, the dates and times subject to students' academic schedules. Gatherings include services, Biblical and theological discussion groups, lectures, community service programs and social opportunities such as dinners and campus sporting events. Programs have included mini-retreats at various Orthodox monasteries and OCF retreats on and off campus. Our group has offered financial support for members participating in Real Breaks and summer programs of the OCMC. The Chapel/Fellowship also sponsors the Father John Turkevich Memorial Scholarship, awarded to students who have shown particular zeal in their work for the Orthodox community.
Clergy offering significant service to the Chapel of the Transfiguration
- Archpriest Constantin Buketoff, First Chaplain (1964)
- Archpriest John Turkevich, Chaplain (1965-1988) and Professor of Chemistry at Princeton
- Archpriest Daniel J. Skvir '66, Chaplain (1989 – to present)
- Protodeacon (now V. Rev.) Michael Sochka, Assistant Chaplain (1997 - 2017)
- Archpriest Georges Florovsky, Eminent Orthodox Theologian (1964 – 1979)
- Protodeacon Joseph Carter
- Reverend Tristan (Joseph) Gall, Assistant Chaplain (2019-2020)
- Reverend Alexander Smida, Assistant Chaplain (2021- present)
- Deacon (now Rev. Mikhail) Pejovic
- Deacon (now Priest) Iosif Bena
- Subdeacon Georges Barrois, Old Testament Scholar (1968 -1987)
- Igumen Irineu, (1985-1988), presently Archbishop of Alba Iulia, Romania
- Igumen Ambrose (1993-1996), presently Bishop of Zelon, Metropolitan of Korea
Prominent visitors who have celebrated Liturgy in the Chapel of the Transfiguration
- Metropolitan Tikhon
- Metropolitan Theodosius
- Metropolitan Herman
- Metropolitan Jonah
- Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia
- Metropolitan Filaret
- Archbishop Michael of NY-NJ
- Archbishop Peter of NY-NJ
- Bishop Serafim
- Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos
- Protopresbyter Mathew Stadniouk, Dean of Epiphany Cathedral, Moscow