Elevation, ordinations, and awards mark Feast of Three Hierarchs
On January 30, 2009, during the celebration of the Feast of the Three Hierarchs, Ss. Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom-the patrons of the St. Vladimir's Seminary campus chapel-two seminarians were ordained and two more received distinctive scholarship awards. Additionally, Protodeacon Kirill Sokolov, Associate Chancellor for Systems at the seminary, was elevated to the rank of Archdeacon by Metropolitan Jonah, primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), and now serves as the archdeacon to His Beatitude in addition to his duties at the seminary.
Archdeacon Kirill, an alumnus of SVS (M.Div. '07), was ordained to the diaconate in 2004 and elevated to the office of Protodeacon in 2006. He is a lecturer in liturgics for second and third year seminarians. He has been a member of the OCA's Committee on Diaconal Vocations since 2007, and a member of Orthodox Information Technologies Commission [OITC] of the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA) since 2004. Moreover, he has led practical training sessions throughout the United States for clergy and church servers, including the Diaconal Liturgical Practicum, which occurs on the seminary campus during the summer; this year, the diaconal practicum is scheduled to take place June 14-17, 2009.
Deacon Gregory Wassen-a third-year M.Div. student who currently fulfills his weekend parish assignment at St. Gregory the Theologian Church, Wappingers Falls, NY, under the tutelage of The V. Rev. Alexis Vinogradov, rector-was ordained to the holy priesthood by Metropolitan Jonah. Fr. Gregory has a wife, Sarah, and a son, Cassian, and is priest in the OCA.
Lee Whitfield-a second-year M.Div. student who hails from Christ the Savior Church in Southbury, CT (Diocese of New England, OCA)-was ordained to the diaconate, and adopted the name of his patron, St. Theophan the Recluse. Dn. Theophan had been a teacher for fifteen years at independent schools, first in New York City and later in Connecticut, prior to pursuing studies at SVS. He and his wife, Manna, have three daughters: Ayame, Miya, and Emi.
His Grace, Bishop Maxim of Western America (Serbian Orthodox Church) and over a dozen faculty, student, and guest clergy concelebrated with His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah.
Third-year student The Rev. Aaron Warwick, of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (AOCANA), and second-year student Dr. Andrew Cuneo, of the OCA, each received the St. Basil the Great Award for Academic Achievement, which was established in 2003 by an anonymous benefactor who wished to recognize and encourage students who have excelled in their studies at the seminary.
The award bears the name of St. Basil the Great, one of the Three Holy Hierarchs for whom the seminary chapel is named. With St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil is lauded as a "harp of the Spirit," a "trumpet of truth," a "flowing river of wisdom," a "teacher of the universe," a "pillar of the Church." Like St. Gregory and St. John (to use words from one of the hymns in honor of the Holy Hierarchs), St. Basil "approached the meadows of books like a bee, gathering well the flowers of virtue." He excelled in the study of philosophy and rhetoric, the two most prized areas of intellectual accomplishment of his day. He demonstrated how such intellectual pursuits help to edify the Church and enlighten the universe. In doing so, he has given a noble example for all who dedicate themselves to the study of Orthodox theology.
This past year, the St. Basil the Great Award was given to a senior (third-year) student at commencement exercises, besides its current presentation to a middler (second-year) and a junior (first-year) student on the Feast of the Three Hierarchs. At the May 2008 Commencement, the award went to Rico Monge from the senior class.May God grant that the recipients, with St. Basil as their exemplar, will continue to excel not only in academic achievements but also in wisdom and in virtue.