Dr. Constance Tarasar
Lecturer in Christian Education
Dr. Constance Tarasar, a pioneer in the field of Orthodox Christian education and the first woman to enroll in one of St. Vladimir's degree programs, fell asleep in the Lord on Friday, November 7, 2014.
A native of Minneapolis, MN, Dr. Tarasar graduated from seminary in 1965 after finishing coursework for a Bachelor of Divinity degree and submitting a thesis on the role of women in the Church. Her years at St. Vladimir's proved eventful, even determinative, for her life; there, she met Fr. Alexander Schmemann, who became her theological inspiration and lifelong mentor.
Later, she returned to the Seminary to serve as Lecturer in Christian Education.
"She was a real leader and model for our women students," noted the Very Rev. Dr. John Behr. "As a towering figure for many years in the field of Orthodox education, she served as executive director of the Orthodox Christian Education Commission (OCEC) and chair of the Orthodox Church in America's Department of Religious Education. Throughout her outstanding career, she mentored generations of seminarians while producing an immense amount of curriculum. Many of the student and teacher manuals used in church school programs originated with her."
In addition to her work in Christian Education, Dr. Tarasar contributed significantly to broader dialogue. In 1976 she was selected to represent the United States at an international "Orthodox Women's Consultation" at Agapia Monastery in Neamt, Romania. The consultation sought to dialogue and explore the role of women in the Orthodox Church in modern society. As a representative to the World Council of Churches, she served as a regular participant and leader in ecumenical discussions on women's roles and issues.
Prior to her retirement and return to Minneapolis, Dr. Taraser helped develop an Orthodox Christian curriculum used in Romania, Russia, and other central and eastern European countries. In these same years, she also helped to bring Orthodox education online, making curricular materials available on the internet.
“Above all, Dr. Tarasar loved the Church and devoted her entire life to the ministry of Christian Education,” said Fr. John Behr. “The Seminary is indeed grateful for her many contributions. May her memory be eternal!”