9 March 2011 • Off-campus Event • By Deborah (Malacky) Belonick
Priest David Mezynski, currently Associate Dean for Student Affairs at St. Vladimir's, became "Father-Doctor David," when he earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Fordham University this past week. Father David defended his thesis titled "The Effects of the Origenist Controversy on the Pastoral Theology of Barsanuphius and John" before a panel of his readers and advisers, which included Archpriest John Behr, dean of St. Vladimir's Seminary, and professors from the Faculty of Theology at Fordham University: his mentor, Dr. George Demacopoulos,  and Dr. Michael Peppard,  Dr. Maureen A. Tilley,  and Dr. Joseph T. Lienhard, SJ. 
Encouraging friends, such as Priest Nilus Lerro, the Director of Student Affairs at St. Tikhon's Seminary, as well as several seminarians from St. Vladimir's attended Fr. David's doctoral defense and were on hand to be the first to offer congratulations. From 2004 to 2005 Fr. David served as Assistant to the Dean, and from 2005 to 2009 as Director of Student Affairs, at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary, South Canaan, Pennsylvania, before joining the staff at St. Vladimir's.
"I'm still floating six feet off the ground, and all I can think about is that I'm finally done," said Fr. David. "It took me a total of eight years, which seems like a long time, but basically I was working on this part-time while working at St. Tikhon's, and then at St. Vladimir's. I especially want to thank His Grace Michael (former Dean of St. Tikhon's Seminary and now bishop of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey) for encouraging and supporting me as I pursued my doctoral studies, as well as Dr. George Demacopoulos, for his patience and guidance, and Fr. Nilus Lerro, for his never-wavering belief that I would actually finish."
Dean Fr. John Behr noted Fr. David's accomplishment, saying, "It has been a joy to work with "Father-Doctor" David on his dissertation over the last years, and especially to see him shine today as he faced his examiners. He has learnt a lot from working so closely through the letters of Sts. Barsanuphius and John, as I have from him, and I am sure that it will stand him in good stead in his future ministry."
Likewise, Chancellor/CEO Archpriest Chad Hatfield offered his congratulations, remarking to Fr. David, "You joined our team with 'part of the deal' being that you complete your doctoral studies. That day has arrived and you honor all of us at SVOTS!"