Former Dean Awarded Honorary Doctorate at Father John Meyendorff Memorial Lecture
Establishing a new tradition, St. Vladimir's Seminary hosted the first annual Father John Meyendorff Memorial Lecture with speaker The Very Rev. John H. Erickson, former dean of the Seminary from 2002–2007. Father John delivered the address "'Does Christian Tradition Have a Future?' Father John Meyendorff's Question Revisited" to an overflow crowd of students, faculty, and guests in The Metropolitan Philip Auditorium of The John G. Rangos Family Building.
In his introductory remarks, Seminary Dean The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr hailed the featured speaker as a leading historian, gifted musician, able adminstrator, friend, and mentor. Dr. Paul Meyendorff, son of Protopresbyter John Meyendorff and Secretary of the Faculty Council, then awarded a Doctor of Canon Law degree, honoris causa, to Fr. John, on behalf of the faculty and Board of Trustees. Father John is also The Peter N. Gramowich Professor of History Emeritus from St. Vladimir's, and many of his former students who learned both Canon Law and Church History from him were on hand to support and congratulate him. As Chancellor/CEO The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield noted later in the evening, it is the first Doctorate of Canon Law awarded in the Seminary's history.
The honoree also offered the homily at the Sunday morning Divine Liturgy in Three Hierarchs Chapel. His Beatitude The Most Blessed Tikhon, primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), presided over the day's events, which concluded a weekend of festal celebration for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
In his lecture, Fr. John outlined the challenges facing this generation's theologians and scholars. "Today's post–modernist world of historical scholarship asks, not only, whose voice is heard, but whose voice is absent, and why? Fathers and heretics aren't as easy to distinguish as they used to be: today's historians question original sources relentlessly, and are more suspicious of them and their conclusions. Today's students wade through a multiplicity of perspectives.
"In a world marked simultaneously by gullibility and skepticism, the answer lies in our sacramental tradition, and in the Eucharist," Fr. John went on to say. "The Eucharist reminds us that Christ has already won, and we are liberated from bondage to the principalities of this world and can live in unity with
one another and with God. We must be transformed by the Faith so that we can live it, and others can see it.
"The culture has lost all sense of past and narrative; in this situation, the people of God gathered in Eucharistic assembly will be the most powerful witness to the truth of Tradition," he concluded.
Beginning this year, the Meyendorff Lecture will usher in the fall academic season just as The Father Alexander Schmemann Memorial Lecture held every January on the Feast of the Three Hierarchs begins the spring term. Protopresbyter John Meyendorff's contribution to St. Vladimir's was immense; an outstanding scholar and churchman, he joined the faculty as professor of Church History and Patristics in 1959, while holding successive joint appointments as lecturer in Byzantine Theology at Harvard University's Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, professor of Byzantine History at Fordham University, and adjunct professor at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary. Dean of the Seminary from March 1984 until June 1992, Fr. John also published widely in the fields of theology and history.