SVOTS welcomes 31 new students as academic year begins

St. Vladimir’s Seminary’s 2018-2019 Academic Year has begun!

Thirty-three seminarians comprise the incoming class. Thirty-one of them are new students, including 8 in the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) Cohort of 2021, 9 in the Master of Arts (M.A.) program, and 14 in the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) program. Two returning graduates from the Class of 2018 are beginning the Master of Theology (Th.M.) program.

Those 33 seminarians represent an incredibly diverse group. They range in age from 22 to 55 years and hail from 17 jurisdictions and non-Orthodox churches, 15 states, and six countries—which means SVOTS’ student body (of full-time students) is now made up of seminarians from a total of 16 different countries. Five of the first-year seminarians are women (16 percent of the group).

“I love the inter-Orthodox focus of St. Vlad’s—that’s really near and dear to my heart,”said first-year M.Div. seminarian Philip McClanahan (Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America). “I had been wanting to go to seminary for years…and it just all came together.”

“I was really interested by the academic name [SVOTS] has,” said incoming seminarian Catherine Alexandres (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America), who transferred into the M.A. program from another theological school.

Catherine and Philip are among the 22 incoming seminarians from Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions. Another 8 new students represent Oriental Orthodox churches and 3 are from other Christian churches.

Here is a breakdown of the incoming class by jurisdiction:

  • Orthodox Church in America = 22%
  • Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America = 18%
  • Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, Patriarchate of Serbia, Patriarchate of Romania, Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church, Armenian Apostolic Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Malankara Churches, Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Episcopal Church, and Free Methodist Church together = 60%

With the incoming seminarians included, SVOTS’ current student body is 82 (96 including continuing, and non-degree students).

Orientation for the new seminarians began Friday, August 24, and continued into the weekend and following week.

“Where you are right now is the center of everything we do,” Professor Archpriest Alexander Rentel, the Seminary’s ecclesiarch, told the incoming class Saturday as they gathered inside Three Hierarch’s Chapel for one of the day’s orientation sessions.

Fr. Alexander also spoke to the seminarians about the blessings and challenges they would encounter during their time at SVOTS in their community, spiritual, and academic life. During orientation, the seminarians met with Fr. Alexander and other members of SVOTS faculty and staff, including President Archpriest Chad Hatfield, Interim Academic Dean Professor John Barnet, and Director of Admissions and Residential life Priest David Mezynski.

Members of the incoming class and returning seminarians gathered in the chapel the following day for Sunday Divine Liturgy, presided over by Fr. David along with Fr. Chad and incoming seminarian Fr. Giorgi Tskitishvili. The priests were assisted by another incoming seminarian, Dn. Peter Runyon, and third-year seminarian Dn. Larry Soper.

Monday, August 27, marked the first day of Fall 2018 Semester courses.

May this new academic year—the first as Vision 2020 unfolds—be blessed for all seminarians, faculty, staff, and their families!