Seventeen seminary students from Belgrade, Serbia spent one week on the seminary campus as “performers in residence,” cultivating important religious, cultural, and academic ties with the seminarians and faculty at St Vladimir’s, from September 12–19, 2008.
Highlights of their visit included a public concert performance in the John G. Rangos Family Building, featuring multi-part Russian Orthodox liturgical hymns and traditional Byzantine chant following the typikon of Mount Athos; and their choral participation in the Vigil of the Feast of the Elevation of the Cross, celebrated by His Grace Maxim (Vasiljevic), Bishop of the Western Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America.
Bishop Maxim is docent of the Divinity School at the Theological Faculty of the University of Belgrade and docent for Christian Anthropology and Sociology at the Theological Faculty of the University of East Sarajevo. He also is on the Board of Trustees at St. Vladimir’s.
Commenting on the daily routine and life on St. Vladimir’s campus, Dr. Nenad Milosevic Professor of Liturgics in the Faculty of Orthodox Theology at the University of Belgrade, said he was most impressed by the “seriousness of the studies” at St. Vladimir’s and the “responsibility felt by the students and faculty to witness to the Orthodox Christian faith in an American environment.”
“Europeans presume that Orthodox Christians in America have succumbed to the values of the surrounding culture,” he said. “But our visit to St. Vladimir’s has been a lesson for us: We have seen how Orthodox Christians, while not ignoring the surrounding society, can become witnessing Christians to it.
“Of course, our time here also has been important in that we have gotten to know each other personally, and have begun to understand the programs and functional operations of St. Vladimir’s,” he concluded.
The Very Rev. John Behr, Dean of St. Vladimir’s, further noted the strengthening ties between the two seminaries. “Bishop Maxim recently has been elected to our Board of Trustees,” he said, “and, we have granted honorary doctorates to both Patriarch Pavle, [Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovci, and the Serbian Patriarch] and retired bishop Atanasije Jevtic [formerly the bishop of Zahumlje-Hercegovina]. Another hierarch, His Grace, Firmilian (Ocokoljich) [Bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Midwestern America], taught Hagiology and both Western and Serbian Ecclesiastical Histories at St. Vladimir’s; he was also appointed Dean of Serbian Students. Moreover, one of our most beloved faculty members, Dr. Veselin Kesich, professor of New Testament emeritus, and our newest faculty member, Ms. Alla Generalow, Director of Liturgical Music, both are of Serbian background.”
Ms. Generalow accompanied the Serbian seminarians to several venues as they toured the Northeastern the United States, including the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava in New York City and Holy Cross Seminary in Boston.