2023: Year in Photos


By God’s grace, St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVOTS) was blessed with a student body of 97 seminarians and saw several exciting new initiatives begin in 2023. A few highlights were: the launch of the St Vladimir’s Online School of Theology, rebuilding seminarian scholarship funds on Giving Tuesday, and the inauguration of the Light of the World Webinar Series. As always, the primary mission and focus of St Vladimir’s Seminary continues unchanged: to train priests, lay leaders, and scholars to be active apologists of the Orthodox Christian Faith—focusing on academic rigor and spiritual formation within a residential Orthodox community.


JANUARY: Seminary faculty and two students represented SVOTS at the International Orthodox Theological Association (IOTA) 2023 mega-conference (Jan 12-14) in Volos, Greece, alongside over 400 other lay scholars, clergy, and hierarchs hailing from 45 different countries; the conference theme was “Mission and the Orthodox Church.” Pictured above are Seminary President, the Very Rev. Dr Chad Hatfield, Fr Anthony Gilbert (M.Div. ‘23), Fr Alexander Earl (M.Div. ‘23), and the Very Rev. Dr Sergius Halvorsen during his presentation.


JANUARY: A large group of seminary faculty, staff, and students traveled to Washington D.C. for the annual March for Life.


JANUARY: His Eminence, the Most Reverend Daniel, Archbishop of Chicago and the Diocese of the Midwest (OCA) led the SVOTS community in celebrating the Synaxis of the Ecumenical Teachers and Hierarchs, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom, the patronal feast of the campus chapel.


JANUARY:  The 40th Annual Father Alexander Schmemann Memorial Lecture was given by the Rev. Dr Hans Boersma, Professor of Ascetical Theology at Nashotah House, who spoke on “God as Embodied: Christology and Participation in Maximus the Confessor.”


FEBRUARY: Archpriest Bogdan Bucur blesses a dorm room on the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple, as the seminary community received “house blessings” across the entire SVOTS campus.


FEBRUARY: The Institute of Sacred Arts (ISA) at SVOTS and Great Music Under a Byzantine Dome hosted a concert performance, The Byzantine Choral Inheritance, by the world-renowned ensemble, Cappella Romana, on Friday, February 17, 2023, at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York. Dr Alexander Lingas, founder and Musical Director of Cappella Romana and ISA Artist in Residence for the Spring 2023 semester, directed a portion of the concert.


MARCH: Each year, during the first two days of Great Lent, a lenten retreat is held after morning matins, and SVOTS seminarians are encouraged to keep silent, focusing on entering the fast in earnest. This year, Dr Peter Bouteneff presented for the retreat, giving a four-part series of talks titled “The Social Self and the Inner Life: Reflections on Communion, Introversion, Extraversion, and Compassion.” 


MARCH: A heavy snowfall marked the first two days of Lent in Yonkers, NY this year, blanketing the campus and adding to the prayerful silence kept by the seminary community.


MARCH: His Beatitude Tikhon, Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of All America and Canada of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) served at SVOTS for the Feast of the Annunciation to the Most Holy Theotokos, raising SVS Press Bookstore Manager Anthony Antwian Davis (M.Div. ‘19) to the rank of reader.


MARCH: Seminary students, faculty, and guests performed a concert titled “Hymns for the Theotokos & the Lenten Season” on Sunday, March 26 in the Three Hierarchs chapel on campus. Three ensembles—a male choir, a women’s choir, and a mixed choir—sang selections of traditional and contemporary hymns from Slavic, Georgian, Middle Eastern, Greek, Malankaran, and modern American composers.


APRIL: Scenes from the Holy Saturday matins service at Three Hierarchs Chapel.



APRIL: Let God arise! Let His enemies be scattered! Archpriest Bogdan Bucur censes the congregation at the Paschal Divine Liturgy.



APRIL: Christ is Risen! Fr Alexander Earl (M.Div. ’23) and Dn Tesfay Rezene (Th.M. ‘23) share in the joy of the feast during the blessing of the Pascha baskets.



APRIL: The Institute of Sacred Arts hosted a panel discussion entitled “Sacred Arts East and West: A Conversation with Aidan Hart, Jonathan Pageau, and Andrew Gould”, on April 24. The panelists were challenged to present their work and approach to liturgical art from the lens of cultural adaptation and bridge-building. ISA founding director and SVOTS Professor of Systematic Theology Dr Peter Bouteneff and Associate Professor of Art History Dr Rossitza Schroeder moderated the discussion.



MAY: Commencement—the graduating class of 2023 with His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, visiting hierarchs, and faculty and trustees of St Vladimir’s Seminary.


MAY: The Commencement Address was given by the Hon. Alex M. Azar II, who was also awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, in recognition of his faithful and dedicated philanthropic service over many years within the Church.


During the Commencement ceremony, Student Council President Mark Sultani (M.Div ‘23) presented the Saint Macrina Award to the Rev. Dn Dr Vitaly Permiakov. The Saint Macrina Award is an honor given each year to a professor elected by the student body to recognize his or her effort and excellence in teaching. Sultani then presented an unexpected and touching class gift to the Very Rev. Dr Chad Hatfield and Academic Dean Dr Ionuț-Alexandru Tudorie, an icon commissioned with a local iconographer, depicting the Mother of God with Christ in her womb overlooking the seminary campus.


JUNE: Over 400 students joined Preparing to Read the Fathers and Orthodoxy & the Old Testament, the first-ever online courses offered through the St Vladimir’s Online School of Theology, an accessible extension of the seminary offering quality online Orthodox education to the general public, taught by SVOTS faculty. The courses were taught by Dr Michael Legaspi and Archpriest Bogdan Bucur.


JUNE: A landmark Summer Music Institute was held, with a special focus on composition by contemporary Orthodox musicians. Highlights of the week included Benedict Sheehan’s Liturgy No. 2, rehearsed by participants throughout the week and sung in church for the second time ever on Friday, June 24; and keynote presentations by composers Mother Katherine Weston and Dawn Helene, discussing their own musical journeys and creative processes while introducing attendees to several hymns they had authored. Distinguished Orthodox church musicians Talia Sheehan, Juliana Woodill, and Dn Harrison Russin also gave intensive workshops on vocal technique and choir conducting.


JUNE: Seminary alumnus Archpriest Kirill Sokolov (M.Div. ‘07) led the training of diaconal candidates on campus for the Orthodox Church in America (OCA)’s Diaconal Liturgical Practicum.


JULY: St Vladimir’s Seminary hosted an alumni reception, sponsored by the Orthodox Vision Foundation, at the 56th Biennial Antiochian Archdiocese Convention in Phoenix, AZ. Over 60 alumni attended the event, reconnecting with former classmates and learning about recent developments in Seminary life.



AUGUST: Education Day was held online via Zoom; the event featured six hours of presentations conducted by SVOTS faculty members, was attended by hundreds online, and raised over $36,000 for seminarian scholarships.



AUGUST: Thirty new seminarians joined the student body at SVOTS for academic year 2023-24, bringing the total enrollment to 93 living on campus; half of that number is joined by their wives and small children.



SEPTEMBER: In keeping with a yearly tradition, the seminary community marked the Ecclesiastical New Year with a moleben and the planting of a new tree on campus.



SEPTEMBER: Students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered in person and online on Sep. 12, 2023, to hear scholar and SVS Press author, Dr Paul Gavrilyuk, give a special talk on the contrasting leadership styles of two formational leaders of St Vladimir’s Seminary, Fr Georges Florovsky and Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann.



SEPTEMBER: His Eminence Metropolitan Saba, primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (AOCANA), made his first-ever pastoral visit to St Vladimir’s Seminary on September 28.



OCTOBER: In his first visit to St Vladimir’s Seminary since graduating, Fr Simon Menya (M.Div. ‘19) gave a presentation on the Orthodox mission he shepherds in Gulu, Uganda. Over 20 seminarians, faculty, and staff attended Fr Simon’s talk, hosted by the St Innocent Mission Society.



OCTOBER: St Vladimir’s Seminary hosted its inaugural session of the Light of the World Webinar Series on October 17 via Zoom live stream. Co-hosts His Grace Bishop John (Abdalah), Auxiliary of the Diocese of Worcester and New England (AOCANA), and Orthodox writer, Khouria Frederica Mathewes-Green, spoke at length on the topic “Submission to the Church: How to Become Children of the Light.”



OCTOBER: Seminary families gathered for the annual Fall Festival, which included a chili cook-off, games and crafts, and a children’s costume contest.



NOVEMBER: Seminary wives got together for a meeting of the St Juliana Society at Fr Chad and Mka Thekla Hatfield's house. The speaker for this meeting was Papadia Grace Attwa, the sister of current seminarian Job Njoroge (M.A. '25). Papadia Grace was born in Kenya and has lived in the United States for the last 8 years, and spoke to the St Juliana Society on "Finding Joy in Christ".



NOVEMBER: Faculty dish up Thanksgiving dinner for seminary students and their families, in a longstanding SVOTS tradition.



DECEMBER: Seminary children gathered at the Metropolitan Philip Auditorium for a special visit from St Nicholas (played by a seminarian)! 



DECEMBER: On December 13, 2023, the campus community marked the 40th anniversary of the repose of Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, dean of Saint Vladimir's Seminary from 1962 until his death in 1983. May Fr Alexander’s memory be eternal!



DECEMBER: In one of several ordinations held at Three Hierarchs Chapel this year, 3rd-year M.Div. student, Giorgi Lomsadze, was ordained to the holy diaconate by the hand of His Grace, Bishop Gerasim of Fort Worth, Auxiliary to the Diocese of the South (OCA), on December 13, the feast of St Herman of Alaska. Axios!