BRIDGEPORT—Father Ralph Seraphim Rohlman, former director of the Propagation of the Faith, died on October 2 in Bridgeport. Father Seraphim was born on July 13, 1965, in Bridgeport, and attended area elementary schools and Central High School.
He was attending the University of Bridgeport on a full music scholarship when he heard a missionary bishop speak in his home parish of St. Dimitrie Romanian Orthodox Church. Inspired by that talk, he prepared for the priesthood in the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church at Saint Herman Theological Seminary in Kodiak, Alaska, While completing his six years of study there he met his future wife, Catherine Anelon. Following Orthodox guidelines, they were married in 1988, before his ordination. Father Seraphim was ordained to the priesthood on October 5, 1990 at Saint Nicholas Church, in Nondalton, Alaska.
During his years in Alaska he traveled throughout the Aleutian island chain and along the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers, performing funerals and marriages, baptizing and celebrating the Divine Liturgy. He founded a hospice program in Anchorage and set up the first chaplaincy program at the Bureau of Indian Affairs hospital there.
His next call was to Hawaii, where he served in a tiny mission parish. He was later sent to Texas to teach at a seminary, and to New Mexico, Montana and Nebraska.
He was received into full communion with the Catholic Church, and was incardinated in the Diocese of Bridgeport in 2009. He celebrated his first public Mass in this diocese at St. Theresa Church, Trumbull, on January 2, 2010.
In the Diocese of Bridgeport, Father Seraphim served as director of Community and Prison Outreach. He was assigned in 2012 as parochial vicar at St. Andrew Parish and Our Lady of Good Counsel Chapel in Bridgeport. He was appointed director of the Office of the Propagation of the Faith in 2015, a post he held until his recent retirement due to poor health.
Father Seraphim was a talented linguist, able to preach in Native Alaskan languages, Romanian and Slavonic. He was also a trained vocalist and writer of icons.
Friends may call on Thursday, October 5, from 4-7 pm at St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church, located at 100 St. John’s Drive in Trumbull. The funeral service will begin at 7 pm. On Friday, October 6, Father Seraphim’s funeral will be celebrated with the Divine Liturgy in the Melkite Rite at 10 am, also at St, John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will preside. Father Michael K. Skrocki, pastor of St. Ann Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Danbury, a close friend of Father Seraphim and his family, will be the celebrant.
Father Seraphim is mourned by his wife, Catherine, and their daughter, Evgenia. Condolences may be sent to their address: 40 Tesiny Circle, Bridgeport, CT 06606. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Seraphim, and for the consolation of his family.