International Conference In Paris: The Legacy of Father Alexander Schmemann

A large and enthusiastic crowd packed the conference hall of the St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris from December 11-14, 2008 to hear speakers from around the world present papers on "The Legacy of Father Alexander Schmemann." Among the speakers were several SVS faculty and alumni, including Dr. Paul Meyendorff, The Father Alexander Schmemann Professor of Liturgical Theology at St. Vladimir's; The Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, Director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA); Joost Van Rossum, Professor of Church History at St. Sergius; Jean-François Colosimo, Professor of the History of Philosophy and Byzantine Theology at St. Sergius; The Very Rev. Alexis Vinogradov, rector of St. Gregory the Theologian Church, Wappingers Falls, NY; Stig Symeon Froyshov, Professor of Ancient Church History and Patristics at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Oslo; and The Rev. William Mills, rector of the Nativity of the Theotokos Church, Charlotte, NC.

Also present for the celebration was Matushka Juliana Schmemann, Fr. Alexander's wife, who offered closing remarks at the celebration. Mr. Serge Schmemann, Matushka Mary Tkachuk, and Matushka Ann Hopko, the children of Matushka Juliana and Fr. Alexander, also attended the event. Additionally, Fr. Alexander's sons-in-law also presented papers at the colloquium: Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, former dean of St. Vladimir's Seminary, and The Very Rev. John Tkachuk, rector of the Sign of the Theotokos Church, Montreal, offered talks related to the pastoral application of Fr. Alexander's works, titled respectively "Theological Education for Pastoral Ministry," and "Christ in Our World: Waiting for the Good News?".

The intent of the Paris colloquium was to make as complete as possible an assessment and review of the different aspects of the activity, work, and vision of Father Alexander; and the different interpretations they might elicit and their relevance within the Church today.

The conference was also an occasion to remind the international gathering of the importance of Fr. Alexander for Orthodoxy in Western Europe, especially in France, where he grew up and was educated, and in particular at St. Sergius in Paris. It was there that he was ordained a priest and that he began his involvement in the life of the Church, especially in the Russian Christian Student Movement. Even after he moved to New York City and began teaching at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, Fr. Alexander returned regularly to Paris to visit family and friends. Today more than ever, when the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops in France is actively working on the process of unification, the vision of Fr. Alexander, with its roots in the mystery of the Church in its local and universal dimension, may serve as a reference and source of inspiration for the task of building a local Church of Western Europe.

To learn more about the Paris conference, visit