24–25 February 2013 • Off–Campus • Virginia Nieuwsma
At the invitation of His Eminence Nicolae, archbishop of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas, The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, dean of St. Vladimir's Seminary (SVOTS) traveled to Bucharest to sign a cooperative agreement between SVOTS and the Faculty of Orthodox Theology, University of Bucharest . His visit, blessed by His Beatitude Daniel, archbishop of Bucharest, metropolitan of Muntenia and Dobrudgea, locum tenens of the throne of Caesarea of Cappadocia, patriarch of Romania, began on the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee when he celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Patriarchal Cathedral of Ss. Constantine and Helen.
On Sunday afternoon, His Beatitude hosted Archbishop Nicolae and Fr. John for an extended meeting at the Patriarchal Residence. Patriarch Daniel presented Fr. John with a pectoral cross and in return, the seminary's Dean offered His Beatitude several SVS Press books and an icon of St. Vladimir depicted with the seminary's Three Hierarchs Chapel. Father John expressed his gratitude to the Patriarch for having blessed the project between the two schools of theology in New York and Bucharest.
"I'm gratified to see that our plans for partnering with overseas schools is bearing fruit," said Fr. John. "Through these collaborative efforts we will be able to serve the various Orthodox churches in the United States more effectively by enriching the formation of our students, and we will lay the groundwork for ongoing and sustained dialogue with Orthodox schools of theology overseas." The agreement with the University of Bucharest's Faculty of Orthodox Theology is the second one to be formalized this winter; on February 12, 2013, Fr. John and SVOTS Chancellor/CEO The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield signed a formal agreement with the Faculty of Orthodox Theology at the University of Belgrade  to establish a Serbian House of Studies at SVOTS.
In that same spirit of collaboration, Fr. John led a conference for faculty and students in the University's Great Hall on Monday, centered on the topic "Becoming Human," the theme of his soon–to–be–released SVS Press book. During the busy morning, he also met with Theology Faculty Dean The Rev. Dr. Stefan Buchiu and other faculty members, signed the document outlining the cooperative agreement, and joined his Bucharest colleagues for a celebratory lunch.
"In the USA, the Orthodox faith is two centuries old, and the Orthodox faithful come from all over the world, from Romania, Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Middle East, so that we all live together," noted Fr. John in his remarks during Sunday's Divine Liturgy. "Living together with various nations, traditions and cultures, our place is a very special one which encourages the experience of the Orthodox faith.
"We are all pilgrims in this world, as one of the fathers of the second century used to say," added Fr. John. "This same early Christian sent a letter to Diogenet in which he said of all Christians: 'Any foreign country is their homeland and any homeland is a foreign country for them.' I am in a foreign country, but I feel as if I am at home in my own country."