New to the Diocese: Deacon Christopher Westrate
Last updated: 2013-06-18 13:05:05
Deacon Christopher Westrate: A Short Biographical Sketch
By the Grace of God, Deacon Christopher Westrate was recently ordained to the Holy Diaconate by His Grace, Bishop Nikon (on May 6th 2007). He feels very blessed to serve in the Diocese of New England and at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in Boston.
Deacon Christopher was born in Danvers, Massachusetts in 1976. Most of his early life was spent in Beverly and Hamilton, but for Chris’s high school years, the Westrate family moved to Safety Harbor, Florida. Dn. Christopher was not raised in the Church, but came to faith in 1989 when he was 13 years old. At 14, he was baptized in a Baptist church and continued to explore the Christian faith throughout his formative years.
In Florida, Dn. Christopher was very involved in a Methodist church a few blocks away from his home. He worked for the church’s Youth Group and Children’s Ministry, and he participated in a number of mission experiences in Washington D.C., Haiti and Mexico. Alongside his church experience, Dn. Christopher came to love the study of history and literature, two fields which would influence him in his journey to the Orthodox Church.
After high school, Dn. Christopher attended Gordon College, a liberal arts evangelical school in Wenham, Massachusetts, where he studied history and literature. It was there that he fell in love with Lisa N. Hall, who became his wife the summer before their senior year. Though Christopher studied Church History at Gordon, it was Lisa who introduced him to his first significant experience of Orthodoxy when she encouraged him to read Dostoevsky, and specifically The Brothers Karamazov.
Christopher and Lisa were part of an Anglo-Catholic Episcopal parish in Hamilton, Massachusetts for the first three years of their marriage. There they came to appreciate and embrace the sacramental life through the beautiful liturgy served at the parish. While studying literature at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, where Dn. Christopher earned his M.A., he began to more deeply investigate the Church’s history and the place of the Orthodox Church in the development of doctrine and Christian spirituality. After much study and a very inspirational catechumenate, the Westrates were received into the Orthodox Church at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Boston.
Deacon Christopher and Lisa live in Amesbury, Massachusetts with their two year old daughter Anna. Anna is a source of great joy for them, and they love being parents. They all enjoy taking walks together, exploring new gourmet recipes, and reading lots of books. Deacon Christopher and Lisa lead the Youth Group at Holy Trinity Cathedral. The group has enjoyed a number of retreats, social outings and service projects and meets regularly for church school. The kids at Holy Trinity have a special place in the Westrates’ hearts.
Dn. Christopher has taught literature and writing courses for eight years at New Hope Tutorials. New Hope is an ecumenical educational hybrid, which enables homeschooling parents to supplement their at-home curricula with small group classes (8-10 students). New Hope offers educational resources to parents in the content areas they find most difficult. Dn. Christopher’s classes (8th-12th grades) offer high level studies in the language arts. He feels very blessed to work at New Hope, where he can teach and explore the subjects he loves, and where he is free to relate his academic discipline to the life of faith in Christ.
Deacon Christopher is indebted to His Grace, Bishop Nikon, to his cathedral rector, Archpriest Fr. Robert M. Arida, and to his church community at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in Boston. His Grace has always been very supportive, a wonderful Arch-pastor and guide through the process of vocation discernment. Deacon Christopher has enjoyed serving His Grace as subdeacon, both at Holy Trinity and around the diocese. Fr. Robert Arida’s mentorship has been an immeasurable gift in Dn. Christopher’s coming to the Orthodox faith, growing as an Orthodox Christian, and discerning ordination to the diaconate. Fr. Robert has been an incredible source of inspiration, light and life. Finally, all of the Westrate’s friends at Holy Trinity have offered such a vital gift of support, fellowship and friendship. Deacon Christopher and Lisa feel exceedingly blessed for all that God has given them in life and in this new ministry.