The annual round of commencement exercises of the seminaries of the Orthodox Church in America, which normally takes place during the month of May, this year has been altered due to the pandemic. Nonetheless, Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and Saint Herman Theological Seminary, will graduate a total of 50 students prepared to serve the Orthodox Church in America and other churches both here and abroad.
With the pandemic striking during the spring semester, our seminaries quickly moved to online learning so that the work of educating our future church leaders could continue. “We are particularly proud of our seminary deans, faculty and staff this year who have gone above and beyond what is already a challenging job,” said Metropolitan Tikhon.
“They had to rethink and retool a semester in progress, and it is thanks to their efforts that we have arrived at this moment of celebrating a new generation of priests and lay leaders who are well prepared to pastor and serve the body of Christ.”
Saint Tikhon’s Seminary will open their 78th commencement exercises this evening at 6:30pm EDT (5:30 CDT; 3:30 PT) with an address to the graduating class by Archimandrite Zacharias (Zacharou) of the Stavropegial Monastery of Saint John the Baptist, Essex, England, titled, “Now is the Judgment of this World.” All are invited to attend by tuning into the YouTube Channel of the Orthodox Church in America.
Commencement exercises will continue on Saturday, May 29, with the conferral degrees and academic hoods in individual, private ceremonies under conditions that follow CDC guidelines, as well as state and local civic directives.
Saint Tikhon’s graduates 15 Master of Divinity students from the Orthodox Church in America, the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America and the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria. This year’s co-valedictorians are Priest Silouan Burns (OCA) and Mr. Ian Attila (Church of Bulgaria).
“While the circumstances we face are difficult, and the celebration of our graduates will be modest, we hope that our efforts will give honor to the Class of 2020 as they leave us to take up their various ministries,” said Archpriest John Parker, Dean of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary.
In early April the leadership of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary took the decision to postpone its normal commencement exercises for the class of 2020 . Commencement is now scheduled for Saturday, September 12, 2020, with the hope of having a full celebration beginning with a hierarchical Divine Liturgy in the morning, and a Service of Thanksgiving and the commencement exercises at 1:00pm in the Metropolitan Philip Auditorium of the John G. Rangos Family Building.
Saint Vladimir’s graduates 33 students among the four degree programs at the seminary with 19 Master of Divinity degrees ; 11 Master of Arts degrees; 2 Master of Theology degrees; and 1 Doctor of Ministry degree.
“This year’s graduating class represents the commitment Saint Vladimir’s has to pan-Orthodoxy,” said Archpriest Chad Hatfield, seminary dean. Among the class of 2020 are students from the Orthodox Church in America, the Antiochian Archdiocese of America, the Georgian, Romanian and Serbian Patriarchates, and the Oriental Orthodox churches.
“My heartfelt congratulations to Saint Vladimir’s Class of 2020 which not only thrived amidst the normal rigors of graduate school but also patiently and diligently endured all the limitations that were set by a historic pandemic for the last weeks of their experience at the Seminary,” said St. Vladimir’s Academic Dean Dr. Alex Tudorie. To read more about the graduating class of 2020 see here.
Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVOTS) plans to begin the 2020-2021 academic year as normal with on-campus classes — but the school has alternate plans if a full reopening is delayed due to further COVID-19 restrictions in New York State.
Saint Herman’s held their 47th commencement exercises via zoom on Sunday, May 10, 2020. Archpriest John Dunlop, seminary dean, awarded diplomas to Priest Stephen Wood and Deacon Irenaios Anderson. Archpriest John Dunlop and Deacon Anderson also received certificates of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), during the ceremony.
“The faculty, staff and students of Saint Herman’s give thanks to God for our new clergy who have begun their ministries and the opportunity to labor and learn in the northernmost vineyard of Christ, blessed by Saint Herman and all the Alaskan saints,” said Father John Dunlop.
Saint Herman’s Theological Seminary, a seminary of the Diocese of Alaska, is dedicated to the training of clergy and lay leadership for the Church in Alaska. In addition to preparing those who may be ordained to the priesthood and diaconate, the seminary trains readers, catechists, religious educators, choir directors, and substance abuse counselors to serve the faithful of the Diocese’s vast territory.
In related news, at a recent meeting of the Board of Trustees of Saint Herman’s, His Eminence Archbishop David of Sitka, accepted the resignation of long time seminary dean, Archpriest John Dunlop. Father John and Matushka Dr. Bea, have served faithful the community of Saint Herman’s Seminary for 23 years. In recognition of his many years of service, Archbishop David and the members of the board conferred upon him the honor of Dean Emeritus. In addition, His Eminence and the board expressed their deep appreciation for Matushka Bea for her many years of selfless service to the seminary.
In commenting on the great efforts of Archpriest John during his years as dean, Archbishop David said, “Moving forward I am hopeful that these efforts will prove to be a great benefit to the parishes and peoples of Alaska. With God’s help and following our patron’s Saint’s instruction: From this day forward, we will love God above all and fulfill His Holy Will.”
At the same meeting, the Board of Trustees decided that classes will continue remotely for the Fall 2020 semester.