65th Commencement of Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary
On Sunday, May 26, 2013, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary celebrated its 65th annual commencement. Candidates who had successfully completed all requirements were awarded Diplomas of the Bachelor of Theology Degree and the right to wear the seminary “znachok,” or badge. These together signify the culmination of years of successful study, examinations, participation in Holy Trinity Monastery’s Divine Services, and labor at monastery obediences. Holy Trinity Seminary’s Bachelor of Theology Degree is accredited by the Board of Regents of the New York State Education Department, which gives the recognition for students to further their study wherever they wish.
The graduates prepared all week with comprehensive exams and then finally with a farewell luncheon on the Saturday before graduation, as a final service to the brethren of the Monastery and their fellow seminarians.The Commencement was preceded by the All-night Vigil and Divine Liturgy, which were officiated by His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. This year, Bachelor Candidate Peter Markevich was ordained to the diaconate during the Divine Liturgy. We exclaim with all: Axios!
At 2:00pm on Sunday, all seminarians including candidates for the Bachelor of Theology gathered outside the Monastery Trapeza for a procession to Holy Trinity Cathedral, singing “Christ is Risen” all the way. A thanksgiving molebin was served, followed by a group picture, and the procession to the Seminary Hall. The graduation ceremony opened with singing the prayer “Christ is Risen” followed by local arrangements of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Bozhe Tsarya Khrani,” or “God Save the Tsar,” the pre-revolutionary Russian National Anthem, sung by members of the Seminary/Monastery choir.
Archimandrite Luke, Rector of Hoily Trinity Seminary officially declared the ceremony open. He gave some encouraging words to the graduates. Metropolitan Hilarion gave the next address to the seminarians. Third came the keynote speaker, Sergey Chapnin, senior editor of the official Moscow Patriarchate magazine. Mr. Chapnin, as an eminent journalist of Church matters, had much to say about contemporary religious thought in Russia and the current state of post-communist Russia concerning religious matters. He addressed challenges that the Russian Orthodox Church is facing today.
At the conclusion of Mr. Chapnin’s address, Bachelor of Theology degrees were awarded to the candidates. Before awards for excellent academic performance among all students were given, Vladika Hilarion awarded Protodeacon Victor Lochmatow the Synodal Znamenskij Order (орден) Third Class (степень) in recognition of forty years of teaching and service to Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary, for which he received a standing ovation from all students, faculty, and guests. On behalf of the administration, faculty, and student body, we would like thank Fr. Victor from the bottom of our hearts and wish him many years!
Valedictory speeches were given in Russian and English by Rev. Deacon Peter Markevich and Hierodeacon Serafim (Nikoloski) respectively.
The Commencement ceremony concluded with prayer. It was followed by a festal luncheon for all. We would like to congratulate the class of 2013 and wish them success with many years of service to the Holy Orthodox Christian Church.
Your Eminence, fathers, graduates, students brothers and sisters!
Christ is Risen!
I would like to turn to you our graduates with a few words of greeting and advice. By God's mercy you now prayerfully celebrate the conclusion of your studies at Holy Trinity Seminary. Abba Longinus says, "Give blood and receive the Spirit". You have struggled hard to obtain the knowledge, and more importantly the experience which you take with you as you continue today on your path of salvation. Each in his own way has received a gift of the Holy Spirit which you will carefully preserve and develop through ascetic labors.
The spiritual tradition and life which in part nurtured you has as its source and its roots the fathers of Holy Trinity Monastery of recent past, those fathers who established the Russian Church Abroad and those that nurtured them the Great Martyrs and luminaries of the 20th century Russian Church and further back into the rich history of the Russian Church and the universal inheritance of Holy Orthodoxy. I bring this to mind in order to offer all if this tradition for your guidance in the future. You need not create something new, revise or reinvent the life in Christ that has been given to you. All answers to your personal spiritual questions, moral and social issues, the boundaries of the Church, questions which many today would relegate only to science, art and culture, even that which pertains to matters of aesthetics, all of this you need only search for guidance in the above tradition and Holy Fathers.
We have only indicated the path to you, and although you might be sorely tempted in the future, it is your responsibility, for your own sake and that of those who will look to you for advice and guidance, to remain on this path.
God help and strengthen all of you.