Hundreds of Faithful Enjoy Orthodox Education Day 2007


On Saturday, October 6, 2007, St Vladimir's Seminary welcomed hundreds of guests who traveled to the seminary's campus for this year’s Orthodox Education Day. It was a full day of prayer, fellowship, good food, and educational workshops as participants explored this year's theme: "Our Church: Her Mission and Her Future.” One of the highlights of the day was the keynote address by Fr Chad Hatfield, SVS Chancellor and CEO. Fr Chad spoke on the topic of Our Mission Today, challenging his audience to consider the lives of the great Missionary Saints in America’s Orthodox history: St Herman, St Innocent, and St Tikhon – and how they call us to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel today. His address was immediately followed by a panel discussion with representatives of mission work in the Antiochian Archdiocese, Greek Archdiocese and OCA. Fr Chad moderated, taking questions from the floor addressed to Fr Eric Tosi (OCA), Fr Gregory MacGregor (Antiochian Archdiocese) and Fr James Kordaris (Greek Archdiocese).  “This is the first time that mission representatives from these three jurisdictions have ever been on a stage together,” said Fr Chad as the session concluded. As a pan-Orthodox institution, St Vladimir’s is an ideal forum for these kinds of meetings and discussions. While each of these speakers represented his respective jurisdiction, together they also represented the diversity of the Orthodox Church. The speakers included converts to the Faith and those born into it, those coming from large established parishes and those from small mission parishes, all of whom are involved in mission work aimed at evangelization, revitalization, and the growth of the Church. 

The day started off with a procession from the Three Hierarchs Chapel to the tent for the celebration of a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy to commemorate the feast of the Glorification of St Innocent. His Beatitude Metropolitan Herman of the OCA presided, and His Grace Tikhon, Bishop of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania and rector of St Tikhon’s Seminary, concelebrated. Many local priests from different jurisdictions joined seminary clergy around the altar. A special OED Community Choir that included both seminarians and other Orthodox faithful filled the tent with their voices. Fr John Behr, the seminary’s new dean, gave the homily, which he tied to the theme of the day with a focus on St Innocent, whose life “exemplifies the Church as mission.”

AFTERNOON ACTIVITIES

Following the Liturgy, delicious foods from North America, Greece, Russia, Serbia, Middle East, and India filled the plates of all those in attendance as they feasted under the sunny skies. The day was unseasonably warm and bottles of water were sold out by the end of the afternoon.

The children’s corner of the field was the most vibrant. Girls with butterflies and boys with pirate patches painted on their faces threw balls, played games, sculpted clay, and glued beads on icon frames.  For teenagers, Dr Peter Bouteneff, SVS Professor of Dogmatics, offered a workshop on Film and Faith, analyzing movies in light of Orthodox theology.

There was a significant presence of college students on campus for Orthodox Education Day as SVS and OCF partnered to host an overnight retreat concurrent with the day’s program. Students from across the tri-state area and beyond were on the seminary campus to hear John Stonestreet, a full-time OCF chaplain and recent alumnus of SVS, give a series of talks entitled Donald Trump or Tonsured Monk? Hillary Clinton or Homemaker in the Kitchen? WHAT IS MY VOCATION?

Other popular workshops of the day included Orthodoxy 101 by Fr Luke Veronis with nearly 60 people in attendance and a seminar entitled Diaspora- What’s That? by Fr John Erickson, former dean and long-time SVS Professor of Church History. Church musicians and choir members had the special treat of hearing Dn Kevin Smith, SVS Instructor in Liturgical Music, present the workshop, Liturgical Music: Something Old and Something New. A circle formed around Fr Chad Hatfield and Fr John Behr as they discussed the Future of the Seminary highlighting the new curriculum in the main tent. Several seminarians who served on OCMC Mission Teams last summer recapped their experiences in an intimate conversation with those who were interested in missions.  

Various other afternoon activities available to visitors included campus tours, bookstore sales, a guided visit of the library, and free time for quiet reflection in the chapel. Throughout the Rangos building there were exhibits on display from some of the most active Orthodox ministries, including OCMC, IOCC, OCF, New Skete Monasteries, Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery, Raphael House, Ss Cosmos and Damian House, Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards, Project Mexico, Russian Brotherhood, Indian Orthodox Youth Group, and the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry.

The day concluded with a memorial service and Great Vespers in the filled-to-capacity seminary chapel. As the day wrapped up, one of the day’s organizers was overheard saying, “I am so grateful that all these people got up this morning and decided to come to St Vladimir’s Seminary today.”

The seminary extends its deep gratitude to all the parishes and individuals who donated money, food, time, and efforts, and to all the seminarians who helped to make Orthodox Education Day 2007 a successful and joyful day.