His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, made his first visit since his election as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America to Saint Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary here on Friday and Saturday, September 13 and 14, 2002, for the celebration of the Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and the installation of Prof. John H. Erickson as the school’s new Dean.
As Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, Metropolitan Herman also serves as President of Saint Vladimir Seminary.
After his arrival at the seminary, Metropolitan Herman had a luncheon meeting with the school’s faculty, offering words of warm encouragement while emphasizing the importance of personal encounters in the seminarians’ formation. Sharing his many years of experience as Rector of Saint Tikhon Orthodox Theological Seminary, South Canaan, PA, he reflected on the inevitable “ups and downs” of seminary life, which can happen quickly and unexpectedly. In all, he assured the faculty of his continued support and prayers.
On Friday evening, Metropolitan Herman presided at the festal Vigil and celebrated the Rite of Elevation of the Holy Cross in the seminary’s Chapel of the Three Hierarchs. The following morning, he celebrated the festal Divine Liturgy.
On Saturday afternoon, Metropolitan Herman formally installed Prof. Erickson as Dean of the Seminary in the presence of the seminary’s trustees, faculty, students, and staff and many of the school’s friends and supporters.
In presenting Prof. Erickson with the medal of Saint Vladimir and the Father Georges Florovsky Cross, traditionally given to the Dean of the seminary, Metropolitan Herman spoke with warmth and friendship towards Prof. Erickson, noting especially Dean Erickson’s love for the seminary, his tireless work for Christ and the Church, and his world-wide renown as a scholar.
Prof. Erickson replied that he hoped that Metropolitan Herman would share his own long experience with and commitment to theological education with faculty and students alike while keeping the school in his prayers. He then then delivered a forward-looking address, in which he urged Orthodox Christians to consider precisely how to be faithful to the Tradition, to “the faith once delivered to the saints,” in the modern-day context.
Pointing to the rapid changes in daily life, he noted that Orthodox Christian theologians must strive to address the technological, biomedical, and cultural developments facing the world today. At the same time, he suggested that certain kinds of answers could be found even to the most modern questions from within the gifts of Orthodox liturgical life, including iconography. He noted that ongoing globalization can generate a spirit of tribalism, as well as many differing and hotly contested views on the genuine essence of Orthodox Tradition. While Orthodox Christianity is faced with an increasing need and challenge to speak the truth, it is crucial that this be done with love and not in a spirit in which those who see things differently are demonized.
Among the several hundred attendees were His Eminence, Archbishop Peter of New York and New Jersey [OCA]; His Grace, Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos [Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America]; Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick, OCA Chancellor; and Protopresbyter Daniel Hubiak, former OCA Chancellor. The Rev. Michael Evans represented the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, while Mr. Bishoy Mikhail was present on behalf of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Also attending were the Very Rev. Michael Dahulich, Saint Tikhon Seminary; Prof. Abraham Terian, Saint St Nersess Armenian Seminary; the Rev. John Long, SJ, former Rector of the Russicum, Rome; Prof. Thomas Bird, Queens College; Avery Cardinal Dulles, Fordham University; Prof. Constantine Kallaur, State University of New York, Nassau, LI; and the Very Rev. Yaroslav Sudick, State University of New York and Rector of Holy Trinity Church, Yonkers, NY.