Faculty Footnotes

Surprising Vitality! Orthodox Christianity in Vienna

Fr. John Behr, exuberantly lecturing at the University of ViennaFr. John Behr, exuberantly lecturing at the University of Vienna"If you want to witness a welcoming political, cultural, and religious atmosphere for Orthodox Christianity," said Fr. John Behr, "just visit Vienna!

"The vibrant Orthodox community there models evangelical outreach, ecumenical cooperation, serious study, and vital worship, and I was overjoyed and honored to be part of it all during the Bright Season of Pascha," he noted.Fr. John Behr, serving with Fr. Ioann Moga, Antonius the Great Romanian Orthodox Church, ViennaFr. John Behr, serving with Fr. Ioann Moga, Antonius the Great Romanian Orthodox Church, Vienna

Father John, dean of St. Vladimir's Seminary and world-renowned patristics scholar, was the guest of Fr. Ioann Moga, priest at Saint Antonius the Great Romanian Orthodox Church and professor of theology at the University of Vienna, from April 15–17, in Austria's capital city.

During his stay, Fr. John presented two public guest lectures at the university—"Orthodox Spirituality Today" and "The Interpretation of Death in Early Christian Anthropology and Contemporary Theology." He also conducted a research seminar for the doctoral students of Professors Rudolph Prokschi and Thomas Prügl, on the topic, "Irenaeus of Lyon: Identifying Christianity," which included a discussion by St. Irenaeus on bishops, taken from his treatise Against Heresies (III.3).

Fr. John with Fr. Ioann Moga and Metropolitan Arsenios, at a presentation for Orthodox Christian public school teachers of AustriaFr. John with Fr. Ioann Moga and Metropolitan Arsenios, at a presentation for Orthodox Christian public school teachers of AustriaBesides sharing his scholarly knowledge at the university, Fr. John had the pleasure of meeting with 20–30 Orthodox Christian public school teachers for a discussion about "Religious Education in the United States."

"Austria has an incredible public education system," explained Fr. John, "Within a population of some 8 million, half a million are Orthodox, and they are guaranteed religious instruction in their own tradition in state schools. Hence there are a large number of Orthodox teachers employed."

The discussion, with a question and answer period following, was held at the Orthodox Office of Religious Education, in the presence of His Eminence Arsenios, metropolitan of Austria and exarch of Hungary and Mid-Europe, Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Lastly, Fr. John met with leaders of Pro Oriente, an ecumenical venture established during the Second Vatican Council, with the goal of improving relationships among the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches. They discussed matters of common witness between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, and possible common projects. As well, Fr. John presented a seminar on matters of contemporary Orthodox theology.

"During this exceptional trip, which offered an extraordinary gaze into Orthodoxy in Austria, I also found the time for a delightful visit with Sister Vassa (Larin), a fellow scholar and host of the sensationally popular 'Coffee with Sister Vassa' YouTube show," said Fr. John.Fr. John Behr and Fr. Ioann Moga with doctoral students of Professors Rudolph Prokschi and Thomas Prügl, University of ViennaFr. John Behr and Fr. Ioann Moga with doctoral students of Professors Rudolph Prokschi and Thomas Prügl, University of Vienna

"Sister Vassa's humorous format—always evident, but especially buoyant during Bright Week—provided me with an out-of-the ordinary venue for theological discussion," he chuckled, "but in the end, I was challenged with some really serious questions, and, I hope, gave equally serious answers!

"All in all, this visit to Vienna, afforded me the honor of—paraphrasing St. Paul's words—'being all things to all men (and women!),' and I thank God for this great blessing," he concluded.

·Watch Fr. John Behr’s interview on “Coffee with Sister Vassa”!
·See a gallery of photos of Fr. John’s trip to Vienna (credit: Fr. Ioann Moga).

Previous Faculty Footnotes:

Title Author Datesort icon
Unity in Diversity: The Opportunities and the Challenges Dr. Peter C. Bouteneff October 20, 2010
Women in the Orthodox Church, Here and Now Dr. Peter C. Bouteneff May 26, 2011
Reflection on "For God and Country" Orthodox Education Day 2011 Dr. Peter C. Bouteneff October 24, 2011
"Ministering to God": A Reflection On the Life of St. Innocent of Alaska Very Rev. Alexander Rentel October 11, 2012
Orthodox Unity and Autocephaly: Fr. John Meyendorff's Timely Message Dr. Paul Meyendorff November 6, 2012
Travelogue and Final Reflections Very Rev. Alexander Rentel July 11, 2013
Becoming a Healing Presence Dr. Albert S. Rossi October 25, 2013
Meeting Jesus in the Temple Very Rev. Dr. John Behr March 27, 2014
Working With Student Leaders Dr. Albert S. Rossi September 11, 2014
Professor Rentel Serves OCA as Canonical Consultant Very Rev. Alexander Rentel September 17, 2014
Presentation at Westminster Highlights Arvo Pärt's Spiritual Roots Dr. Peter C. Bouteneff September 30, 2014
Professor Meyendorff Meets with Working Group on Theological Education Dr. Paul Meyendorff October 7, 2014
At the Pappas Patristic Institute Conference Rev. Dr. J. Sergius Halvorsen October 16, 2014
North American Orthodox–Catholic Theological Group Meets Dr. Paul Meyendorff November 3, 2014
Dr. Meyendorff Meets with St. Irenaeus Orthodox-Catholic Working Group Dr. Paul Meyendorff November 12, 2014
Estonia's Prime Minister Offers Kudos to Arvo Pärt Team Dr. Peter C. Bouteneff December 18, 2014
Dr. Meyendorff Speaks at Huffington Ecumenical Institute Conference Dr. Paul Meyendorff March 9, 2015
Dr. Meyendorff Presents Lecture in Rome, Italy Dr. Paul Meyendorff April 3, 2015
Seminary's Arvo Pärt Project Organizes NYC Event Dr. Peter C. Bouteneff April 14, 2015
Surprising Vitality! Orthodox Christianity in Vienna Very Rev. Dr. John Behr April 23, 2015
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