Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary [SVOTS] celebrated an eventful Feast of the Three Hierarchs on its campus on Wednesday, January 30, 2019. The day began with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and concluded with the 36th Annual Father Alexander Schmemann Lecture and Mid-Year Commencement. The day also marked the end of three-days of the Orthodox Church in and Anglican Church in North America [ACNA] dialogue, which was also hosted on campus.
The Divine Liturgy for the feast of the patrons of the Seminary’s campus chapel — Saints Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom — was presided over by His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West and His Eminence, Archbishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, both of whom are SVOTS alumni. Joining clergy from among the Seminary faculty and student body were several other alumni, including Archimandrite Gerasim, Administrator of the OCA Diocese of the South and Dean of Saint Seraphim of Sarov Cathedral, Dallas, TX, and Archpriest John Parker, Dean of Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, South Canaan, PA.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, Seminary President Archpriest Chad Hatfield presented a palitza (epigonation) embroidered with an icon of the Three Hierarchs to Archbishops Benjamin and Melchisedek as a gift from the Seminary.
The Divine Liturgy was also attended by Anglican clergy who were preparing for their final day of meetings with a delegation from the Orthodox Church in America. The OCA-ACNA Dialogue began on Monday, January 28. The OCA delegation included Archbishop Melchisedek, dialogue co-chair, and Father Chad Haftield and Father John Parker. Anglican representatives included co-chair Bishop Kevin Bond Allen and Bishop Ray R. Sutton. A photo gallery of the Liturgy is available on the SVOTS website.
The ACNA entered into informal dialogues with the OCA in 2009, and has met regularly with the OCA since then to explore the history of the Orthodox and Anglican ecumenical dialogue and to encourage cooperation.
On Wednesday evening, University of Notre Dame Professor Dr. David Fagerberg delivered the 36th Annual Father Alexander Schmemann Lecture, titled “The Anchor of Schmemann’s Liturgical Theology.”
“The man who was famed as a liturgical theologian says his main interest is not liturgical embellishment. The first floor [of the ‘house of Schmemann’] is not his total occupation,” said Dr. Fagerberg. “I therefore propose we do him an injustice if we fail to excavate down to the anchor of his thought.”
Dr. Fagerberg integrates Schmemann’s theology, among other sources, into his own study of liturgical theology and is author of the recently released Liturgy Outside Liturgy: The Liturgical Theology of Fr. Alexander Schmemann [Chora Books, 2018]. During his lecture, Dr. Fagerberg expressed his sincere gratitude at being invited to Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, where Father Schmemann taught and worked for more than three decades.
“I know it’s customary for a speaker to say that he is glad to be wherever he’s speaking, but I really, really mean it,” said Dr. Fagenberg. “It’s not just customary for me. The material that has come out of this place has affected me in my own work, and it’s a privilege for me to be back and make a public statement of ‘repayment of debt.’”
An audio recording of the Schmemann lecture is available online.
The Seminary’s Mid-Year Commencement Ceremony followed the lecture, during which two Doctor of Ministry candidates—Priest Alcuin Kellerhouse and Priest David Subu—received their degrees in absentia.
At the evening’s conclusion, Archbishop Benjamin offered a final word of thanks and encouragement to the seminarians present.
“One of the things that Father Schmemann spoke about was the beauty of the Liturgy and its ability to transform lives,” Archbishop Benjamin remarked. “And if I had a word for the students, I would say, when you graduate, if you are ordained, make the Liturgy beautiful. The world needs the beauty of the Liturgy.”