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On Saturday morning, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon (Mollard), primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), and His Grace Nicholas (Ozone), auxiliary bishop for Brooklyn of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (AOCANA), presided over the Prayer of Supplication (Molieben) in Three Hierarchs Chapel, on behalf of the graduates. Metropolitan Tikhon, president and chair of the seminary Board of Trustees, opened and closed the Commencement Exercises.
In his remarks, Commencement speaker Archbishop Job (Getcha) exhorted the graduates to be mindful of "the one thing needful" mentioned in the gospel story of Martha and Mary (Luke 10.38–42).
"Young pastors are often preoccupied by many things, and most of these things are rather practical—what should I live on, what do I preach about?" His Eminence began, "But the one thing needful, the most essential part, is prayer and worship, the heart of church life.
"We will find amazing and unexpected solutions as long as we pray and accept God's will," encouraged Archbishop Job. "Always have hope in God and entrust your whole lives to God in prayer."
The archbishop was elected to lead The Patriarchal Exarchate for Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe in 2013. Formerly Dean of the Institut Saint-Serge in Paris and professor there of Liturgy and Church History and Senior Scholar at the Institut Catholique de Paris, Archbishop Job is on the faculty at the Institute of Postgraduate Studies in Orthodox Theology at the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambesy, Switzerland. He also authored the recently released SVS Press book The Typikon Decoded.
Other hierarchs present at the Commencement were: His Eminence Silouan, metropolitan of Buenos Aires and all Argentina and Patriarchal Vicar of New York and all North America; and His Grace David, bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of New York and New England. Other special guests included The Very Rev. Dr. Steven Voytovich, dean of St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary, South Canaan, PA; and The Rev. Mardiros Chevian, dean of St. Nersess Armenian Theological Seminary, Armonk, NY.
Special recognition was given to Valedictorians The Rev. Nicholas Eric Roth and The Rev. Kyle Parrott; and Salutatorians Seminarian John Bradley Vien and Luke Bullock. Also, Student Council President The Rev. Alessandro Margheritino presented the St. Macrina Award for Excellence in Teaching, selected by student vote, to Dr. Paul Meyendorff, The Father Alexander Schmemann Professor of Liturgical Theology.
Additionally, the seminary Board of Trustees awarded an honorary Doctor of Sacred Music degree to famed Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. The Consul General of Estonia, Sten Schwede; The Honorable Urve Tiidus, Estonian Minister of Culture; and Her Excellency Marina Kaljurand, Estonian Ambassador to the United States, attended the academic ceremony.
After the Commencement Exercises Maestro Pärt and his wife, Nora, were honored by the St. Vladimir's Seminary Children's Choir, led by Khouria Danielle Miller. The choir sang the Orthodox Christian Vespers service, with music especially arranged for them by composer Ivan Moody. The children's choir will be publishing a recording of the vespers in fall 2014.
Arvo Pärt Project at St. Vladimir's Seminary and featuring his music, performed by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste.
The entire St. Vladimir's community wishes the Class of 2014 many years!