From March 5–9, 2012, visiting speakers from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, MA, addressed the students at Saint Herman’s Seminary here regarding the importance of missions and pastoral care.
While there has been a historic and ongoing relationship between Saint Herman’s Seminary and Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Crestwood, NY, for many years, this was the first opportunity most of the seminarians had to hear from Holy Cross faculty members, invited to Kodiak to help facilitate the seminary’s unique vision to develop leadership for the Church in Alaska.
Father Luke Veronis, a veteran OCMC missionary to East Africa and Albania and director of the Mission Institute of Orthodox Christianity, presented “The Missiology of Archbishop Anastasios of Albania,” in which he emphasized the priority of missions in Orthodox Christian life.
Especially meaningful was Father Luke’s account of Archbishop Anastasios’ thoughts when he was considering ministry in Africa after his ordination to the priesthood, although everyone around him counseled him to stay in Greece to meet the needs of his own countrymen: “I went to the monastery on the island of Patmos. During this time I again considered returning to missionary activity. Then the question formed in my mind: What about the dangers you will face? Then came the response: Is God enough for you? If God is enough for you, go!”
Father Luke encouraged the seminarians to ask that same question as they prepare to enter the challenging prospects of ministry in Alaska: “Is God enough?”
Dr. Philip Mamalakis, Holy Cross Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care and director of field education, led a seminar on Orthodox Christian marriage and parenting. His presentation addressed the challenges people experience in Alaska. Considering the need for strong marriages among our people — especially among our clergy — the staff and students were excited about the prospect of sharing his presentation with the clergy of the diocese in the future.
Accompanying the speakers were two Holy Cross seminarians, who experienced hospitality from the seminary and the Holy Resurrection Cathedral communities and made a pilgrimage to Spruce Island.
Before their departure, Father Luke and Dr. Mamalakis discussed areas of possible future collaboration with the seminary Dean, Archpriest John Dunlop, and the Associate Dean of Academics, Deacon Irenaios Anderson. Central to their discussions were the areas of field education and participation in mission teams.
Applying the missionary vision of Archbishop Anastasios in Albania to the Church in Alaska, Father John commented, “The missionary theology of Archbishop Anastasios encourages us to affirm what is Good, True, and Beautiful in the surrounding culture and baptize and transform that which is lacking. The Archbishop provides an all-encompassing vision and road map for spreading the Gospel of Christ in Alaska and the world. The resurrection of the post-Communist Church in Albania is a testament to Christ, showing us that the ‘Gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church.’”
Connecting the topics of the two speakers, Deacon Irenaios affirmed that “missions and pastoral care are, in reality, two sides of the same coin, for both emphases are concerned with people’s salvation. Both missions and strong marriages are vital needs in the Diocese of Alaska.”
Saint Herman Seminary’s hope is that this event will be the first of many opportunities the Seminary has in working with our sister seminaries to bear witness to the Orthodox Christian faith.