A gala celebration was held for the 80th Anniversary of Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary [STOTS] from Thursday to Saturday, October 11-13, 2018. Hundreds of members of the seminary community worshiped, reminisced, and rejoiced together, giving thanks to God and to the saints whose self-emptying labors and prayers have sanctified the grounds and sustained the mission of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary for eight decades.
Following Vespers at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery Church on Thursday, October 11, a reception in honor of the seminary’s new Dean, Archpriest John Parker III, was hosted at the seminary’s Convocation Center – formerly the gymnasium, now being beautifully transformed. On Friday, October 12, following the Divine Liturgy and a breakfast hosted at the seminary, a Symposium titled “Where Saints Have Walked” was givaen at the Metropolitan Museum, in honor of the school’s anniversary. The Symposium featured presentations on the “History of Saint Tikhon’s Through Liturgical Artifacts” by Archpriest John Perich and “Memories of Saint Nicholai of Zhicha” by Archpriests Daniel Ressetar, Eugene Pianovich, and Daniel Geeza, who shared their personal stories about the saint who served as STOTS’ Rector in the 1950s until his repose.
Father John Parker was formally installed as Dean of the Seminary on Friday afternoon during a Molieben celebrated by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, President of the Seminary, who presented Father John with the Dean’s Cross – a beautiful jeweled pectoral cross which belonged to the former Dean, Archpriest Basil Stroyen six decades ago that has been handed down to the past three Deans.
On Friday evening, nearly 200 members of the Saint Tikhon family gathered for a festive banquet at the Hilton Hotel, Scranton, PA. Toastmaster Archpriest David Cowan, an alumnus of Saint Tikhon’s, intoned prayers for the seminary’s departed and living trustees, administration, staff faculty, benefactors, alumni, and students and their families. In addition to greetings by Metropolitan Tikhon and His Eminence, Archbishop Michael, the seminary’s Rector, heartfelt remarks were offered at the banquet by two other hierarchs. His Eminence, Archbishop Abel of Lublin and Chelm of the Orthodox Church of Poland offered touching words about the spiritual inheritance he shares with Saint Tikhon’s, serving in the same diocese where Saint Tikhon of Moscow served as a newly consecrated bishop and where His Eminence, the late Archbishop Kiprian was born. His Grace, Bishop Thomas of the Antiochian Archdiocese’s Diocese of Charleston and the Mid-Atlantic, a STOTS Trustee, reflected on the profound joy he encounters when he visits Saint Tikhon’s and witnesses the love and faithfulness with which the administration, staff, and students accomplish their labors and studies. A special presentation of flowers and an icon was given to His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, with words of gratitude for his seven decades of prayerful, tireless service to the theological school.
Also offering remarks at the banquet were Michael G. Herzak, Sr., Chair of the seminary’s Board of Trustees; Hieromonk Herman, Dean of Saint Tikhon’s Monastery and STOTS faculty member; and Father John Parker. The members of the Board of Trustees were honored for their tireless dedication to the school, most recently expressed in the purchase of additional real property for the future of the seminary. The President and officers of the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America [FOCA] were recognized and thanked for the FOCA’s incredible generosity and vision in initiating the seminary’s Married Student Housing Project and raising over $300,000.00 to fund the housing, the first phase of which is complete. Archbishop Michael was presented by FOCA’s President and officers with gifts of new icons to be placed in the married student apartments in the former Orphanage building. The Saint Tikhon’s Century Association also was recognized for its steadfast financial and spiritual support, and its President and officers presented Metropolitan Tikhon and Metropolitan Herman with Lifetime Century Association Memberships. Entertainment for the banquet was provided by the seminary’s resident rock band, “Harry and the Dogmatix,” comprised of faculty, alumni, students, and friends of Saint Tikhon’s. The Alumni Association officers present were introduced and thanked for their continuing love and support for their beloved alma mater. Hearty thanks were expressed to Matushka Mary Wusylko, Chair of the 80th Anniversary Celebration, who coordinated the festivities with much assistance from seminary Chef Zena Parker, former seminary staff member Mary Sernak, and Century Association Vice President Rosalie Luster.
The 80th Anniversary Celebration concluded on Saturday morning, October 13, with the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, celebrated by Metropolitan Tikhon and Archbishop Michael, at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery Church. Metropolitan Tikhon awarded Father John Parker the kamilavka and elevated him to the dignity of Archpriest, the rank already bestowed upon him by the Holy Synod in honor of his many years of yeoman work in the Diocese of the South and as Chair of the OCA Department of Evangelization. Archbishop Michael offered the homily, and His Beatitude ordained seminarian Joseph Sharman to the diaconate. Seminarians, faculty, and alumni sang the responses. A celebratory luncheon followed the Liturgy, bringing the three-day event to a close.
A sense of deep joy and optimism permeated the festivities. Many generations of hierarchs, alumni, students, staff, and supporters of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary were blessed with the opportunity to share memories, forge new friendships, and rejoice together in all that Saint Tikhon’s Seminary has meant in their spiritual journeys. May God grant that many, many more generations of faithful will make their spiritual home at this blessed place – where saints have lived and walked and prayed and taught.
May God grant Saint Tikhon Seminary’s not just 80, but “80 times 80” more years of radiance as a light of Orthodoxy in America!
Photo credit: Subdeacon Roman Ostash