SVS international liturgical symposium will feature Robert F. Taft, S.J. as keynote (Jan 29-31)

Renowned liturgist The Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Robert F. Taft, S.J. will present the keynote address at an international academic symposium titled "The Past and Future of Liturgical Theology: Celebrating the Legacy of Father Alexander Schmemann," to be held at St. Vladimir's Seminary (SVS), from January 29-31, 2009.

The academic symposium, featuring preeminent theologians from Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant traditions from major universities, will honor The Very Rev. Alexander Schmemann (d. 1983), who served as dean of St. Vladimir's Seminary for more than twenty years. Fr. Schmemann is best known for his writings on liturgy and sacramental life, which have influenced all branches of Christianity, in the practice of worship as well as in the academic realm.

Fr. Taft's talk, "The Liturgical Enterprise Twenty-five Years after Alexander Schmemann (1921-1983): The Man and His Heritage"-the centerpiece of the colloquium and this year's Father Alexander Schmemann Annual Memorial Lecture-will be presented Friday, January 30, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. in the Metropolitan Philip Auditorium of the John G. Rangos Family Building on the seminary campus. This lecture is free of charge and open to the public.

"I'm very excited about the upcoming ‘Schmemann Lecture' and accompanying event," said The Rev. Dr. Alexander Rentel, Assistant Professor in Canon Law and Byzantine Studies at SVS and organizer of the symposium.

"The seminary faculty and administration planned this conference for three main reasons," Fr. Rentel continued. "First, to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of Fr. Alexander Schmemann's death; second, scholars recently have shown much interest in Eastern liturgical themes; and third, one of our invited speakers, Professor Michael Aune, has written a two-part article titled ‘Liturgy and Theology: Rethinking the Relationship' [Worship 81 (2007)] that has generated a lot of excitement in the academic community and seems to suggest a way forward in the discipline. I could also add that this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to invite Fr. Taft to speak," he concluded.

Fr. Rentel himself pursued and completed his doctoral studies and degree under Fr. Taft, who was Professor of Oriental Liturgy at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome (1970-2002), where he also served as Prefect of the Library (1981-85), and Vice-Rector of the Institute (1995-2001). In addition, Fr. Taft has been Visiting Professor of Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame since 1974, and was Director of the Graduate Program in Liturgical Studies there in 1977-79. He also served as Editor-in-Chief of Orientalia Christian Periodica and is presently Director of Publications at the Pontifical Oriental Institute. He has published hundreds of articles and, at last count, he had written and edited thirty-five books.

In addition to serving as a board member and/or consultant of several academic and ecclesiastical bodies, Fr. Taft is a founding member of both the North American Academy of Liturgy and of the Association of Jesuit Liturgists, and a member of the U.S. National Committee for Byzantine Studies, of the Society for Armenian Studies (retired 1999), and of the International Societas Liturgica. He was a member of the Governing Council of the latter society for ten years (1979-89), and its President from 1985-87.

Other prominent speakers scheduled for the 3-day event include:

* The Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Job (Getcha)-former Dean of St. Sergius Theological Institute, Paris;
* The Rev. Dr. Stephanos Alexopoulos-Professor at the International Center for Hellenic and Mediterranean Studies, Athens, Greece;
* Sr. Vassa Larin, nun of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad; currently teaching Liturgical Studies at the University of Vienna;
* Dr. Bryan D. Spinks-Professor of Liturgical Studies, Yale Divinity School;
* Dr. Michael Aune-Dean of the Faculty, Dean of the Chapel, Professor of Liturgical and Historical Studies at Pacific Lutheran Seminary, and Core Doctoral Faculty in Liturgical Studies at General Theological Union;
* Dr. David W. Fagerberg-Associate Professor in the Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame.