The beginning of an academic year is always exciting. We welcome new seminarians, we meet their families, and we begin new programs and new community assignments. Seniors consider what they will do once they graduate, while juniors learn how to manage their busy seminary lives.
The Academic Year 2013–14 is certainly shaping up to be a unique one. We are celebrating our 75th anniversary, we have inaugurated the first Father John Meyendorff Lecture, and we are getting ready to host the Fall 2013 Orthodox Inter–Seminary Movement (OISM) event. And this is only the beginning! We can look forward to many more exciting events throughout the year.
This year, we welcomed one of the largest incoming classes that St Vladimir's has seen in many years. We have 39 new seminarians joining 28 returning students. This incoming class is roughly three times the size of my class!
This new class is also diverse. The new students come from various jurisdictions and Churches, age groups, academic and working environments, and cultural backgrounds. The international component is also very significant; we have students from Egypt, India, Estonia, Russia, and Canada, among others. We can all benefit enormously from the different traditions present at St Vladimir's through a respectful and enriching conversation among the various expressions of faith in Jesus Christ.
Additionally, we are not only living as neighbors, but through our community assignments we are asked to serve each other. This requires patience and humility at times, but it is a priceless opportunity to learn from one another, support one another, and establish relationships which will last for the rest of our lives. I cannot think of a better or more practical way of forming people who are going to serve in pastoral ministry and church leadership.
We don't just look inward, however. As we often state, we take on the task to communicate Orthodox Christianity to the world, inviting all to partake of the fullness of the Faith. In accordance with this principle, the student body elects a Student Council which aims to strengthen student participation in campus life, but also encourages outreach beyond the seminary community through designated projects, charities, and causes.
As Student Council President, I work with five other seminarians who represent the students of the Th.M., M.Div. and M.A. programs. At our first general meeting, I emphasized the importance of the Council, since it's been an effective liaison between the Administration and the student body these last few years. I also noted that we will continue to encourage outreach ministry beyond the community. In the past year, great work has been accomplished thanks to the two student interest groups, the pro-life St. Ambrose Society and the St. Herman of Alaska Ecology Group. Several students are also in the process of forming an interest group to focus on cross–cultural missions.
The 2013-14 academic year will be busy and will require a lot of work from all of us. However, we approach it with excitement and joy. Glory to God for all things!
Sandro Margheritino is an M.Div. student at SVOTS from the Diocese of the Midwest (OCA). Born and raised in Palermo, Italy, he was raised in a Roman Catholic family and came to Orthodoxy at the age of 18, after which he majored in International Relations – Political Science at the University of Palermo.Sandro's wife Anna was born in Moscow, Russia, and she currently works as an iconographer. Sandro has served as short-term missionary in Albania and Kenya in the past two years. Deeply inspired by his Italian roots, he is passionate about food and cooking, art, traveling and, of course, espresso!