On May 28, 2023, the 7th Sunday after Pascha - the Sunday of the 318 Holy Fathers of the 1st Ecumenical Council, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary held commencement exercises at the conclusion of its 75th academic year. The day began with a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy celebrated by His Eminence, Metropolitan NICHOLAS of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. His Grace Bishop Luke, seminary rector, was traveling abroad.
After the noon meal, a Moleben of Thanksgiving was served at 2pm, preceded by a procession led by Metropolitan Nicholas, Dean Nicolas Schidlovsky, Archpriest Peter Perekrestov (commencement speaker), members of the administration, the board of trustees, faculty in residence, and the entire student body. The academic procession moved from the monastery building to the Cathedral. Metropolitan Nicholas 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 Seminary choir, and at the conclusion, We Praise Thee, O Lord (Tebe Boga Xvhalim) 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 Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas began the commencement ceremony. Seminary Dean, Nicolas G. Schidlovsky, M.F.A.,Ph.D., then led the eight (8) graduates (from our on-campus degree programs) into the Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov (main) Hall located in the Dean Nicolas Alexandrov Seminary Building.
The ceremony began with the singing of the Troparion of Ascension, the American National Anthem, and God Save the Tsar.
The welcome remarks from Bishop Luke (in absentia) can be read here.
Next, Archpriest Peter Perekrestov (B.Th. class of ’78) First Priest of the Holy Virgin Cathedral Joy of All Who Sorrow San Francisco, CA gave the main commencement address titled: "Ever Ancient, Always New".
Dean Nicolas began his remarks by thanking Fr. Peter for his address. He then spoke to the members of the graduating class about the importance of learning to take what they learned during their years in the seminary, and to first to apply it in their own lives, and to then take these teachings out into the world. This, Dean Nicolas stated, is their calling; to take up their Cross, and fulfill their call to pastorship in the Church. You can read Dean Nicolas’ remarks in their entirety by clicking here.
The program moved on to the main focus of the event; the conferral of degrees. 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 (B.Th.) upon the following five (5) students of the Class of 2023: Undergraduate Valedictorian Reader Oleg Cruz, summa cum laude, Rev. Deacon Ivan Golovin, Stephan J. Lukianov, Dimitry Shaposhnikov, and Brighton Constantine Whytock”
This text was repeated for the following three (3) graduate students who received their Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree: Graduate Valedictorian Leo Sheridan Grabowski, summa cum laude, Subdeacon Ismail Patrick Hinds, cum laude, and Rev. Fr. Romanos Regado.
This text was again repeated for the following seven (7) students who received their Certificate in Theological Studies (CTS – independent study): Thomas Hemstock, Igor Krasnov, Austin (Augustine) Martin, John Olyler, Reader Alexander Shtarov, Rev. Deacon Fiodor Tulbur, and Dmitry Yang.
Following the conferral of degrees and acknowledgements of the scholarship/bursary donors by the master of ceremonies, Archpriest Serge Lukianov (B.Th. class of ’81), Rector of St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Howell (Lakewood), NJ delivered remarks, and also gave nagradi (awards) for achievement and for diligence which Fr. Serge presented to the following students:
BTh. Freshmen: Hierodeacon Ignatius (Matzchke-Brull) – achievement and Dario Rancic – diligence
B.Th. Sophomore: Reader Luke Kendrat – achievement
B.Th. Juniors: Reader Yevgraf Jackimowicz – achievement and Reader Andrey Slivin – diligence.
These awards included a copy of #54 of the journal Road to Emmaus by Silouan Justiniano. This gift was given to the recipients from Dean Nicolas Schidlovsdky.
At the conclusion of these presentations, Reader Oleg Cruz and Leo Sheridan Grabowski were each presented the 2nd Annual ‘Holy Seminary Achievement Award’. This award was instituted in 2022, and sponsored for the second year in a row by Stefan and Christian Andreev of the Jordanville Monument Company in memory of their father, Michael Stefanov Andreev. A check for $800 was presented to Reader Oleg by Stefan and Christian, and a check for $1,050 was presented to Leo, also by Stefan and Christian Andreev.
Deacon Michael Pavuk, Director of Development and MC for the commencement ceremony spoke about the number of organizations and individuals who have established and provide funding for scholarships (merit-based financial aid) and bursary (need-based financial aid). These include:
Metropolitan Philaet - Russian Orthodox Youth Committee
Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov Scholarship – Lukianov Family Foundation
Ivan V Koulaieff Fund
Prince Vladimir Galitzine Memorial Scholarship - Fund For Assistance to ROCOR (FFA)
Col George Codrea USMC Memorial Scholarship - Archpriest Alexander F.C. & Matushka Kathleen Webster
TMN, II Scholarship – Author and Artist Arianne Trifunovic-Montemuro
Bishop Mitrophan Memorial Stipend Award – Yevgeniy and Elena Tkachenko
NEW OFFERING for 2022-23
St Mardarije Scholarship – Tim and Vera Watkins.
The seminary will soon be announcing a newly-established Metropolitan Hilarion Memorial Scholarship
Next, Protodeacon Andrei Psarev, Ph.D., Professor of Canon Law and Russian Church History and Director of Undergraduate Studies, introduced this year’s undergraduate valedictorian, Reader Oleg Cruz who delivered his collegial address on behalf of the undergraduate class of 2023.
Rev. Fr. John Boddecker, Instructor of Scriptural Studies and Exegesis, and Director of Graduate Studies then introduced Leo Sheridan Grabowski who delivered his collegial address on behalf of the graduate class of 2023.
These two collegial/valedictory addresses had each student recalling their years at the seminary, and how this formation has well prepared them for the years ahead.
His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas (B.Th. class of ’98) then gave remarks inspiring the graduates in their service to the Church and referencing his experiences in Jordanville during his own seminary years in the 1990’s, which included reading the text of a letter from one of His Eminence’s seminary professors, Fr. Gabriel Kin, which Fr Gabriel wrote and personalized to each individual graduate.
Photos, refreshments, and fellowship followed between the seminary hall, and on the lawn outside the monastery building and the cathedral.