His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America and President of Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, presided over the 19th Annual Father Alexander Schmemann Memorial Lecture which took place Thursday evening, January 31, 2002, at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, was joined at this annual event by His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and His Grace, Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos, as well as by seminary faculty and students and many visiting clergy, members of the seminary board of trustees, and friends of the seminary community. Also present was Matushka Juliana Schmemann, widow of the late Father Alexander who reposed in the Lord on December 13, 1983.
The annual lecture, held to honor the memory of the late Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, renowned theologian and former Dean of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, followed Vespers in Three Hierarchs Chapel, served by the seminary dean, Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko. After Vespers, members of the seminary community and guests gathered in Kunetz Auditorium, where Father Hopko welcomed the large crowd in attendance on behalf of Metropolitan Theodosius and the seminary community.
Father Hopko provided biographical information on Archbishop Demetrios, the featured speaker for the evening. He recalled the Archbishop’s many pursuits both as a theologian and archpastor. Father John Behr, secretary of the seminary and member of the faculty, then read the citation conferring the Doctor of Divinity degree honoris causa. The degree was officially conferred by Metropolitan Theodosius who presented the doctoral diploma. His Beatitude also presented the Archbishop with a doctoral cross on behalf of the Holy Synod of Bishops, clergy, and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America.
Archbishop Demetrios thanked His Beatitude and the seminary faculty and board of trustees for the honor that had been bestowed upon him. His Eminence then introduced the topic of his lecture: “Masterpieces of Human Sensitivities: Saint Basil’s Letters.” Quoting extensively from Saint Basil’s letters, His Eminence provided the audience with insight into the faith, intellect, humanity, pastoral insights and human concerns of Saint Basil the Great who served the Church as Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia in the 4th century. The audience was edified and informed by the Archbishop’s presentation that provided many with new insights into the life and ministry of the great ecumenical teacher.
After the lecture, the guests were hosted to a reception by the seminary community.