On June 5, 2022, the 7th Sunday after Pascha - the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 1st Ecumenical Council, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary held commencement exercises at the conclusion of its 74th academic year. The day began with a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy celebrated by His Grace Bishop Luke of Syracuse, Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery and Rector of the Seminary. During the sixth hour, His Grace tonsured undergraduate senior, Jorge Luque-Martin a Reader.
A Moleben of Thanksgiving began at 2pm preceded with a procession of all seminarians, faculty in residence, board members, members of the administration, and the guest speaker from the monastery building to the Cathedral. Bishop Luke and participating clergy offered a Moleben of Thanksgiving for the Seminary's successes, and in supplication for divine blessings on all those who help to perpetuate the institution. The responses during the Molebien were sung by the Holy Trinity combined monastery/seminary choir, and at the conclusion, We Praise Thee, O Lord (Tebe Boga Xhalim composed by D. Bortniansky) was sung by a mixed quintet.
Following a group photo in front of the iconostas, a second procession from the Cathedral to the Seminary, including His Grace, Bishop Luke, began the formal commencement ceremony. Seminary Dean, Nicolas G. Schidlovsky, M.F.A.,Ph.D., then led the seven (7) graduates into the Protopresbyter Valery Lukinaov (main) Hall located in the Dean Nicolas Alexandrov Seminary Building.
The ceremony began with the mixed quintet singing the Troparion of Ascension, the American National Anthem, God Save the Tsar, and finally, a ‘Memory Eternal’ was intoned and sung for the newly departed Metropolitan Hilarion.
Bishop Luke, seminary rector, gave welcome remarks which included His Grace’s words of caution regarding the current technological environment, where the constant onslaught of information and news destroys a peaceful state, drowns out the acquiring of useful knowledge, and generally creates a state of personal and spiritual unrest.
Next, Deacon Anthony (Gaelan) Gilbert, Ph.D. gave the main commencement address titled: “The Orthodox Seminary Curriculum in North America: Growing the Seeds of Classical Christian Education” (Fr. Deacon Anthony’s address can be read in its entirety by clicking on the title in the previous sentence).
Dean Nicolas then spoke about the seminary curriculum generally, and to the graduating class in particular. He thanked Deacon Anthony for his address, and talked about the importance for the Orthodox seminaries to take the lead in this regard, and states that Holy Trinity Seminary will be moving in this direction in the months and years to come.
At this point in the program, the main focus of the event; the conferral of degrees, took place. Dean Nicolas read the following text: “By the recommendation of Holy Trinity Seminary’s Faculty Council and the resolution of the Seminary Board of Trustees, I hereby bestow the degree of Bachelor of Theology upon the following students of the Class of 2022: Timothy Agarkov, cum laude, Undergraduate Valedictorian (Reader) John Keller, summa cum laude, Alexander Liberio, and (Reader) Jorge Luque-Martin, cum laude.
This text was repeated for the following graduate students who received their Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree: Hieromonk Felipe (Balingit), cum laude, Alexandre Duiven, and (Subdeacon) Peter James, cum laude.
Following the conferral of degrees and acknowledgements of the scholarship/bursary donors by the master of ceremonies, nagradi (awards) for excellence and for diligence were presented by Protodeacon Andrei Psarev, Ph.D., Professor of Canon law and Russian Church History and Director of Undergraduate Studies, to the following students:
Reader Luke Kendrat – excellence
Nikolai Dupree – diligence
Reader Yevgraf Jackimowicz – excellence
Andrey Slivin – diligence
Oleg Cruz – excellence
Stefan Lukianov – diligence
Next, Reader John Keller and Subdeacon Peter James both gave collegial/valedictory addresses, each recalling, in their own unique ways, their years at the seminary, and how this formation has prepared them for the years ahead.
At the conclusion of each presentation, Reader John and Subdeacon Peter were each presented the ‘Holy Seminary Achievement Award’. This award was instituted and sponsored this year for the first time by Stefan and Christian Andreev of the Jordanville Monument Company in memory of their father, Michael Stefanov Andreev. A check for $750.00 was presented to Reader John by Protodeacon Andrei, and a check for $1,000.00 was presented to Subdeacon Peter by Rev. R. Demetrios Harper, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Church History and Moral Theology, and Director of Graduate Studies.
At the conclusion of this 2021-22 academic year, Fr Demtrios will be leaving his teaching position at Holy Trinity Seminary, as will Fr John Malcom, Director of Pastoral Practicum and Field Education; Instructor of History and Theology, who was unable to attend this year’s Moleben and commencement ceremony. The seminary administration thanks both Fr. Demetrios and Fr. John for their many and valued contributions to the seminary in recent years, and wishes them well in their new ventures.
Also; on the fourth Sunday of Pascha, the Paralytic, May 2/15, His Grace Bishop Luke ordained 1st year MDiv student Deacon Lawrence Cunningham to the Holy Priesthood for the mission in the Philippines. Axios to Fr. Lawrence and to Reader Jorge, and congratulations to all of our newest alumni of HTOS of the class of 2022, and to their families.
Photos, refreshments, and fellowship followed on the lawn outside the seminary building.