Much to the surprise of His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH, the faculty, trustees and students of St. Tikhonâs Orthodox Theological Seminary bestowed on Sayidna the Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa. In a gesture of brotherly love in Jesus Christ, His Grace, Bishop MICHAEL (outgoing seminary dean and now Bishop of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, Orthodox Church in America) personally announced the award, recognizing Sayidnaâs lifelong efforts to spread the Holy Gospel everywhere he has lived and shepherded. The honorary doctorate described Sayidna as a âloyal son of Antioch and devoted father in North America, illumined educator and patient shepherd, inspiring churchman and loving archpastor.â You can read the entire citation here
Sayidna then had the honor and distinct pleasure of addressing the graduating class of 2010, their families and friends at the 68th Commencement exercises at St. Tikhonâs. At this institute of spiritual learning and refinement, Sayidnaâs message
centered on knowledge, but not the secular type that traps us in this world and deprives us from the life to come. Sayidna reminded the gathering that âthe Theologian is one who prays.â His Graceâs message often cited that pillar of spiritual knowledge, the ecumenical teacher St. Basil the Great. Though this archbishop of Caesarea did not abhor secular learning, Sayidna quoted him as saying âthe arrogance of philosophy has nothing in common with humility.â
His Grace reminded the graduates that this seminary experience must allow them to âincarnate the Faith into the language and ethos of our contemporaries through our own holy practice. We must study to speak effectively from such a holy life; but we must heed St. Gregory Palamas as we do so, lest we become âcaptive to vain philosophy.âÂ We must be conversant in the issues at stake today.Â However, we must remember to lead our hearers and followers away from these âmirrors and shadowsâ into the Substance itself, our Faith.â Sayidna closed his commencement address by reminding the graduates who have studied the priesthood to live as priests, and cultivate their experience with the help of their bishop, senior clergy and laity who are diligent in their ministries, and emulate them.
Prior to his address, Sayidna presented Diocesan graduate Rev. Fr. John Christiansen with his degree, the Master of Divinity (M.Div) degree. Sayidna will remain at the seminary through Monday, when he will take part in the 106th annual St. Tikhonâs Seminary Memorial Day Pilgrimage.