Metropolitan Mar Barnabas of the American Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church spent Friday, January 18, 2008 with St Vladimir’s seminarians and faculty as our “Hierarch in Residence.” Each semester, one bishop is invited to the seminary to spend a day with the students and faculty. Hierarchs in Residence pass on the lessons of their experience, interact socially with the students, and expose them to different traditions. Since 1993, Metropolitan Mar Barnabas has been the spiritual guide and shepherd for over 10,000 Indian Orthodox Christians in the United States, including many SVS students.
To start the day, a shuttle bus took all seminarians to St. Nersess Armenian Orthodox Seminary to greet the Metropolitan and participate in a morning prayer service. Malankara Indian SVS students and recent SVS graduates served with their Metropolitan. “It was great to see our fellow students serving with their bishop," remarked one student. Many Oriental Orthodox students – Indian, Armenian, Coptic and Ethiopian – have lived and studied at St. Vladimir’s Seminary for decades, and this episcopal visit marked a historic first for all of our students.
After a reception hosted by St. Nersess Seminary, complete with many delicious sweets, people returned to St. Vladimir’s Seminary. Later that afternoon, the Metropolitan addressed the student body on the topic, "Unconditional Love": “Only in God, do we find unconditional love, in its fullness and reality. God wants every one of us to grow to perfection in unconditional love, as we men and women are created in the image and likeness of God.
Metropolitan Mar Barnabas then gave a history lesson on the Indian Orthodox Church, starting with St. Thomas. He also made reference to the challenges faced by Indian Orthodox in the United States.
The day concluded with daily Vespers in the Three Hierarchs Chapel on campus with the Metropolitan in attendance.