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On Sunday, May 29, 2016 Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary concluded the 2015-2016 academic year with the Commencement Ceremonies celebrating the achievements of the Class of 2016. His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, presided at the Hierarchal Vigil Saturday evening and at the Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of Samaritan Woman in concelebration with the clergy of Holy Trinity Monastery. At the Sixth Hour, His Eminence tonsured the third-year seminarian Sergey Kosov to the rank of reader and ordained him to the subdiaconate. At the Small Entrance of the Liturgy, the Rev. Priest Ephraim Willmarth, Assistant Dean of the Seminary, was awarded the right to wear the nabedrennik, and three deacons – the Rev. Dn Peter Markevich (’13), the Rev. Dn Andrei Psarev (’95), and the Rev. Dn Andrew Doubleday – were awarded double oraria. After the anaphora, Metropolitan Hilarion ordained Subdeacon Sergey Kosov to the holy diaconate. The homily after the communion verse was delivered in English and Russian by Reader Vitaly Permiakov, HTOS Instructor in Dogmatic and Liturgical Theology.

At 2 o’clock in the afternoon, despite the inclement weather, the faculty, staff, and students of the Seminary proceeded to the Holy Trinity Cathedral for the Thanksgiving Moleben, presided by Metropolitan Hilarion. After the Moleben and the group photo, all proceeded to the Seminary Hall, where the Very Rev. Archimandrite Luke, the Rector of the Seminary, opened the Commencement Exercises and offered his welcoming remarks, reflecting upon the need for the students of theology to continue asking questions, seeking the truth, following the example of the Samaritan Woman in the Gospel.

The focus of the Commencement ceremonies was the keynote address delivered by Dr Christopher Veniamin, Professor of Patristics at St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (South Canaan, PA) and a spiritual child of late Elder Sophrony (Sakharov) of St John the Baptist Monastery in Essex. In his engaging talk, Dr Veniamin stressed the need for future pastors to persist in their discipline of prayer, calling upon the name of God, building a foundation for becoming true theologians.

Following the address, the diplomas were awarded to the members of the HTOS Class of 2016. Four seminarians – Reader Stanislav Matveev (magna cum laude), Daniil Semenov, Reader Stefan Stoyanov, and the Rev. Priest Seraphim Wing (in absentia) – received the degree of Bachelor of Theology. Two students – Reader Johannes Sanjaya and Nicholas Williams – were awarded Certificates in Pastoral Studies, and the Rev. Dn Dmitry Matveev received the Certificate in Theological Studies. In the address from the graduating class, Reader Stanislav Matveev, chosen by the Pedagogical Council as Valedictorian, reflected upon the experiences and challenges of living and studying at the Seminary as the ground for testing one’s own preparedness for the service to the Church.

Special recognition at the Commencement ceremonies was given to two faculty members who are leaving Holy Trinity Seminary at the end of this academic year: Mr Arseny G. Mikhalev (’09) who taught courses in Old and New Testament since 2012, and Mr Cyprian (Scott) Fennema, a graduate of Yale University, who taught Philosophy during the last academic year. The Rev. Ephraim Willmarth read the decision of the Pedagogical Council to recognize and to thank both departing faculty members for their good and faithful service to the Seminary and to wish them success and God’s blessing in their future endeavors. The presiding hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, concluded the ceremony with his closing remarks.

The 68th Commencement Exercises concluded with the reception in honor of the HTOS Class of 2016, as well as clergy, faculty, staff, students, and guests, on the lawn outside of the Seminary building. The Rector, the Administration, and the Faculty sincerely congratulate the Class of 2016 and wishes the new alumni of the Seminary the blessing of the Lord and every success in their future service to the holy Orthodox Church!