23 August 2013 • Orientation • On Campus
“We have a full complement of students in all our programs this year,” said Pdn. Joseph Matusiak, director of Admissions at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, “with 20 new seminarians enrolled in our core Master of Divinity program, 15 new students in our Master of Arts program, and 4 new students in our Master of Theology program.
“The campus is already buzzing with activity as new students begin Orientation,” noted Pdn. Joseph.
The 39 new seminarians are joining 28 returning students, twenty of which are continuing their studies in the Master of Divinity program; additionally, 5 part-time students and 10 more students who are finishing their degree program requirements are enrolled. The total student body for Academic Year 2013–2014 equals 83.
New students are following an Orientation schedule Friday, August 23 through Sunday, August 25. Classes for all students will begin on Monday, August 26.
The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, dean, served the opening Molieben for the new students and preached from the Gospel of John, chapter 17, on Jesus’ words, “The hour has now come.”
“The hour has now come,” repeated Fr. John, “Reflect upon these words: Jesus Christ had come to teach the Truth about the Father and the Christ, and the Gospel tells us that knowledge of Christ is eternal life and not just abstract knowledge.
“Also reflect upon the fact that we have just read the same Gospel that is read on Holy Thursday, the time of Christ’s Passion,” he continued. “We also, in this place, are being made ‘one’ through the Passion that we all are about to undergo here, for we are not here just to gain information but to undergo a transfiguration and transformation.”
The Seminary’s Chancellor (CEO), The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, in his opening address quoted Metropolitan Theophilus, who was President of the Seminary when it began in 1938, saying, “ ‘We need educated servants from different cultural backgrounds. Polemic work necessitates preparation.’”
The new class of seminarians represents a range of ecclesial bodies: 9 from the Orthodox Church in America, 6 from the Antiochian Archdiocese, and students from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, Moscow Patriarchate, and Serbian Orthodox Church, among others, as well as Oriental Orthodox students from the Coptic, Malankara, and Armenian churches. The class also includes other interesting demographics: 8 of the 39 students are women; 11 of them are married; and 25 are under the age of thirty.
“This Class, as our 75th anniversary class, is unique,” observed Fr. Chad. “Now is the time not only to look back at our history but also to creatively engage in today's new challenges. We never want to lose sight of the fact that we are a missionary school, and we want our graduates to have a zeal for spreading the Orthodox faith. We need your energy, and your willingness to sacrifice.”
The Rev. Dr. David Mezynski,  Associate Dean for Student Affairs, added, "St. Vladimir’s is truly blessed to have so many students living in community with a common goal: to live a life well pleasing to God, a life of acquiring virtue, a life in pursuit of theology—the experience and knowledge of Him.
"They remind me of a statement by St. Niketas Stethatos (paraphrasing Acts 4:32), who wrote, 'And among the disciples of our Lord there was but a single soul and a single heart…'," continued Fr. David. "Through our own ascetic labors we as a community strive to realize this unity by laying down our lives for our brothers and sisters in Christ, so that at the end of their studies our students might go forth across the world to bear witness to our Savior and to guide those entrusted to them in this life of love."
Photos by John Patrick Nieuwsma