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Bishop Thomas Offers Commencement Address, Receives Honorary Doctorate at St. Tikhon's Seminary

By Joseph Clark

During the weekend of May 26–29, 2017, the Monastery of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, America’s oldest Orthodox monastic community, held its 113th Annual Pilgrimage, and St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary celebrated its 75th Annual Commencement Exercises. Five saints of the Church: St. Tikhon of Moscow, St. Raphael of Brooklyn, St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre, St. Alexander Hotovitzky, and St. Nicholai of Zhicha, have walked the hallowed grounds of these communities, and all who visit this holy mountain are touched by the prayers of these saints.

The festivities began with the arrival of the “Hawaiian” Myrrh-Streaming Iveron Icon of the Mother of God. Many miracles are attributed to her intercessions, and the mere presence of the holy icon brought joy to the faithful. The miraculous myrrh was so plentiful that upon entering the altar, after processing with her, His Grace Bishop Thomas’ hands were thoroughly covered, and this occurred in spite of the wooden case and velvet cover in which she is kept. It was a real joy to be able to venerate her during each of the Divine services over the four days of the pilgrimage. As is customary within monastic communities the full cycle of services was celebrated, so the faithful were able to participate in the stream of Grace that flows from this place. Families were able to break bread together, and the many vendors present provided a pleasant accent to the social activities of the weekend.

On the second day of festivities, the community of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary commemorated 75 years of preparing faithful men and women for service to Christ’s Church with its annual commencement exercises. The seminary Board of Directors, Faculty, and Staff decided to honor one of our own, His Grace the Right Reverend, Thomas (Joseph), Bishop of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic, by conferring upon him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. This award is in recognition of His Grace’s dedicated service to Christ’s Holy Church, his passionate commitment to Orthodox Youth and his contributions to Orthodox Education both here and abroad. Also, His Grace blessed all in attendance with wise, and sometimes humorous, words as this year's commencement speaker.

Within the graduating class of 2017 was Subdeacon George (Marshall) Goodge of St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. Subdeacon George was awarded a Master of Divinity degree with Honors in Theology. Additionally, the commencement ceremony included addresses by His Beatitude, Tikhon (Mollard), Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada (OCA) and President of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, His Eminence, Michael (Dahulich), Archbishop of New York and New York and New Jersey (OCA) and Rector of St. Tikhon’s Seminary, and the Very Reverend Archpriest Steven Voytovich, Dean of St. Tikhon’s Seminary. Among the faithful gathered together were a multitude of priests, deacons, and lay members of the Church from multiple jurisdictions, making the day a truly Pan-Orthodox celebration. (Photos:

St. Tikhon's Commencement Address by Bishop Thomas, 05.27.2017 (PDF)107.49 KB