8 September 2011 • Academic Convocation • By Deborah (Malacky) Belonick
Recognizing the many gifts that Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware), bishop of Diokleia, has offered to the Orthodox Church and to Christians worldwide, the seminary Board of Trustees and faculty bestowed upon him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree, during an academic convocation held on the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos. The convocation was but one of many scheduled activities related to the visit of His Eminence to our campus, who came mainly to deliver the keynote at the North American Conference of the Fellowship of Ss. Alban and Sergius, being hosted by the seminary September 8–10.
Metropolitan Kallistos, a renowned author, teacher, and speaker, held the esteemed position of Spalding Lecturer at the University in Oxford in Eastern Orthodox studies for 35 years, prior to his retirement in 2001. Among his students was our seminary Dean, Archpriest John Behr, who had the privilege of introducing Metropolitan Kallistos to the crowd that had gathered to hear his keynote. Noting His Eminence's extraordinary contributions to the classroom and to the Church, Fr. John remembered fondly his former professor's nickname—"Super K"—apropos to the scholarly instruction and pastoral care that Metropolitan Kallistos had generously given to generations of students.
Upon his reception of the honorary degree, Metropolitan Kallistos thanked the seminary for the distinction, saying, "I have the joy to be speaking today at St. Vladimir's Seminary, and the honor to have been granted a doctorate by this institution. I have long held St. Vladimir's Seminary in high admiration; it is a remarkable powerhouse of Orthodox theology and witness, not only in the West but also throughout the Orthodox world."
Also lauded at the convocation were two seminarians, Dn. David Wooten, 3rd-year M.Div. student, and Harrison Russin, 2nd-year M.Div. student, both of whom received the school's "St. Basil the Great Award" for high academic achievement. Fr. John noted that historically St. Basil is remembered as a “harp of the Spirit,” a “trumpet of truth,” a “flowing river of wisdom,” a “teacher of the universe,” and a “pillar of the Church," and that the award bearing his name encourages recipients toward "intellectual pursuit and vigor in pastoral life." Fr. John Behr congratulated both seminarians, and wished them further excellence in "academic achievement, wisdom, and virtue."