Bonnie grew up in a small parish in rural Washington State that did not have a priest until she was in high school. Every Sunday the members of the parish had a reader's service, singing the Carpatho-Russian melodies that her grandmother had brought from the old country. Bonnie's grandmother had a profound influence on her life, especially in imparting her love for the Church. Bonnie stood by her side at the chanter's stand and learned to lead the congregation in singing. Later, she moved to Seattle and became a member of an OCA parish. She participated in the services as a reader in Church Slavonic and English and as a member of the choir.
After a number of years of working in business, she attended St. Vladimir's Seminary and received a certificate in liturgical music, after which she stayed an extra year to gain credits for the Master of Arts in Liturgical Music.
"I had always taken it for granted that women were to be active participants in the life of the Church," Bonnie comments. "But as I experienced more and more of the Orthodox world at large, I found that my assumptions did not always match the reality. I am particularly concerned with the influx of fundamentalist attitudes and approaches that attempt to limit the role of women and that present a distorted view of life in the Church. I am hoping that this publication will be able to address some of the concerns that I and many others have regarding the participation of women."
She recently completed a Master's degree in Music and Women's Studies and is a Ph.D. candidate in musicology at Brandeis University. She is also working on a graduate certificate in Critical and Creative Thinking.
She works as a choir director at St. John of Damascus Church in Dedham, Mass.
- Click here to read articles by Bonnie Michal from the pages of the Quarterly.