30 January 2013 • Patronal Feast of the Chapel of the Three Hierarchs • Virginia Nieuwsma
Let us who love their words come together with hymns
and honor the three great torch–bearers of the triune Godhead:
Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom.
These men have enlightened the world with the rays of their divine
They are flowing rivers of wisdom,
and have filled all creation with springs of heavenly knowledge.
They ceaselessly intercede for us
before the holy Trinity!
Troparion, Feast of the Three Great Hierarchs
"Glory be to Thee Who hast shown us the light!" The booming voice of His Grace The Right Rev. John Abdalah (alumnus '84), auxiliary bishop for the Antiochian Archdiocese's Diocese of Worcester and New England, accompanied by the pealing of the Chapel bells, announced The Feast of the Three Great Hierarchs—Ss. Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom—patrons of the Seminary's chapel. Appropriately, three hierarchs presided over the Divine Liturgy, including Bishop John, His Grace The Right Rev. Bishop Nicholas, auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn for the Antiochian Archdiocese, and His Grace The Right Rev. Maxim, bishop of the Western Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America (SOC), an episcopal member of the SVOTS Board of Trustees.
"It was a great joy to welcome the three bishops," said SVOTS Dean The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr. "When we heard the three Antiochian bishops were elected on the same day, and then subsequently consecrated together , we knew it was too good to be true, and we issued an invitation for them to join us on this day. Today we had two of the three who were consecrated help us celebrate our Feast, along with honored guest Bishop Maxim."
Added Chancellor/CEO The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, "A patronal feast is always festive but this year having three hierarchs for Three Hierarchs gave us a particular sense of celebration." In Fr. Chad's homily, he emphasized the meaning of this feast for Orthodox Christians today. "In the days of Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom, people in the Church argued about who was the greatest theologian, even to the extent of breaking into camps dividing over this.
"Today," continued Fr. Chad, "it is still all too easy to speak of 'us' and 'them'. But we are one in Christ, so therefore, let us celebrate a feast of unity."
Noted second–year student Sandro Margheritino, "In his profound homily, Fr. Chad pointed out that the unity of the three hierarchs is the unity in Christ. Unfortunately we often miss this by focusing on differences which are really insignificant details.This is truly meaningful, on a day in which representatives of three different jurisdictions in America celebrate the Divine Liturgy in unity."
Another second–year student Kyle Parrott added, "It was wonderful to see the chapel, both nave and altar, packed with clergy, staff, students, their families, and visitors. On what otherwise is an ordinary Wednesday morning in January, seeing so many who took the time out of their day to celebrate this feast of Christian unity was very encouraging."
Michael Soroka, Th.M. student, concurred. "We were blessed to commemorate today's feast of the Three Hierarchs with three hierarchs! The hierarchical liturgy can be served in many different ways, and it was wonderful for the seminary community to get just a small taste of this diversity by celebrating today's liturgy according to the practices of the Antiochian Archdiocese."
In addition to the bishops, Fr. John Behr, and Fr. Chad Hatfield, celebrants in the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy included: The Rev. Dr. J. Sergius Halvorsen, The Rev. Dr. Benedict Churchill, The Rev. Kilian (Sprecher), The Very Rev. Dr. Harry Pappas, The Rev. Pdn. Joseph Matusiak and The Rev. Dn. Gregory Hatrak. Other distinguished guests included The Very Rev. Dr. Predrag Puzovic, dean of the Faculty of Orthodox Theology, University of Belgrade, Serbia, and Dr. Bogdan Lubardic, assistant professor at the Faculty of Orthodox Theology.