His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, joined His Eminence, Archbishop Michael, Rector of Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, South Canaan, PA and Archpriest John Parker, STOTS Dean, for the celebration of the seminary’s 80th Anniversary October 11-13, 2018.
The three-day celebration included talks by Archpriest John Perich on relics and Archpriest Daniel Geeza on Saint Nikolai Velimirovich, who served as the seminary’s Dean in the early 1950s; the formal installation of Father John as the seminary’s new Dean; the Saturday morning Divine Liturgy, during which third-year seminarian Joseph Sharman was ordained to the diaconate; and a celebratory banquet at the Hilton Hotel Ballroom, Scranton, PA.
Address of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon
Grand Banquet Marking the 80th Anniversary of Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary
October 12, 2018
Your Eminences, Your Grace, Reverend Fathers, members of the board, students, faculty, staff, and alumni,
We are often caught up in our world with global events. We watch it on the news. We read it online. We lose sight that these events affect human beings. They affect us, wherever we are, whatever our circumstances. Even though the Orthodox Church in America is young, in some way Christ has been working in these lands for centuries, and he has been working at this seminary for 80 years. That may seem like a short time to some, a long time to others. But still, whether short or long, Christ has been working through us.
I am supposed to give an address tonight. But I won’t give you an address; I’ll give you a path. The address is the fourth chapter of Ephesians, verses 7-10: “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore He saith, when he ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. Now that He ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.” This is the path our Lord gave us, the path of ascent and decent. This is the path that all Christians have taken from the time our Lord walked on this earth. Through the great councils, through the time of martyrdom and great missionary expansion, to the planting of Orthodoxy in North America, to the global struggles of the world that we face today, that same path is offered to us. It is the same path that the founders, builders, rectors, staff, students have gone through over the past 80 years here at Saint Tikhon’s Seminary. And it is a path that each of us must follow if we are to reach the destination that awaits us—salvation in the kingdom of God.
That is the path we all follow, ascend and descend. The descent isn’t always easy. In our lives, in addition to global tragedy, we face struggles with illness, addiction, struggles in our families, and in our hearts; these are the things that take us down. But again, we are brought back to our Lord, Who Himself voluntarily went down, descending into the depths of hell, where we are, so that He might lift us up. He Who descended is the same Who ascended far above the heavens, that He may fill all things. No matter if our calling is to be an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a pastor, a teacher, board member, father or mother, son or daughter—He gave all of us that gift of grace to follow that path of ascent and descent “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” [Ephesians 4:12-13]. This is why we are here this evening, not simply to celebrate the 80 years of work and apostolic ministry of this seminary and all those who have contributed to it, not just to honor our new Dean, but to remember that all of us are united in Christ. And no matter what happens in the world, or in world Orthodoxy, our focus should always be on that humble Christ, God Himself, Who bowed the heavens and came down, Who descended into the depths of the earth and rose again on the third day and ascended into heaven, lifting all of us into that fullness, into perfect humanity.
Photo credits: Subdeacon Roman Ostash, Victor Lutes.