On May 24, 2015 Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary held its 67th Commencement which marked the end of the 2014-15 academic year and the conclusion of seminary studies for the Graduating Class of 2015. His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah (OCA-retired) presided at the Hierarchical Vigil and Liturgy. At the 6th Hour, Metropolitan Jonah tonsured 4th-year student Stanislav Matveev as a reader.
At the end of the Liturgy, Metropolitan Jonah delivered a homily about the experience of God. He said that everlasting life begins here and now by experiencing the love of God on earth. The only place to find our true self is to get beyond our ego and participate in the living experience of Grace. Metropolitan Jonah charged the community to become vessels of the Holy Spirit and to spread that love that can only be found in the Orthodox Church. Following the homily, Metropolitan Jonah led the singing of Many Years for the names day of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia.
At 2 p.m, the Commencement ceremonies officially began with a procession from the Monastery building to the Holy Trinity Cathedral, where the Thanksgiving Molieben (prayer service) was celebrated presided by Metropolitan Jonah, who co-served with the monastery clergy and seminary alumni from the seminary. After the Molieben, a group picture was taken of all the faculty, students and staff of the 2014-2015 year.
After the Molieben, all proceeded to the Seminary Hall. The Commencement exercises were opened by the Rector of the Seminary, Archimandrite Luke, who offered the welcoming remarks. Metropolitan Jonah delivered the Commencement address. The Metropolitan stressed the importance of acquiring God’s Grace first and always to remember one’s own salvation. He charged the new graduates to always read the scriptures and to refer back to the Holy Fathers of the Church when difficulties arise in their future service to the Church.
Following the address, the degrees of Bachelor of Theology were awarded to the graduating class: Reader John Martin (Summa Cum Laude), Stojanche Andov, Ilija Petrov. The awards for academic excellence were given to the students Reader Seth Davidenko (1st year), Novice Angelos (2nd year), Pablo Lopez (3rd year), Reader Stanislav Matveev (4th year), Reader John Martin (5th year). Awards for academic diligence went to Reader Johannes Sanjaya and Stojanche Andov.
After the conferral of degrees and awards, John Martin delivered the valedictory addresses. He spoke about the process of coming to seminary and his life as a seminarian. He spoke to his fellow seminarians telling encouraging them to persist through difficult times and with God’s blessings they would all look fondly back on their experience’s at Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary.
After the conclusion of the Commencement ceremonies, guests enjoyed an outdoor festal meal food and conversation at the reception for the graduates on the monastery lawn.
The administration and faculty of Holy Trinity Seminary wishes to offer their most sincere congratulations to the HTOS Class of 2015, and to wish them success in many years of their faithful service to Christ and His holy Church!
Your Eminence, fathers, graduates, students, brothers and sisters!
We began the school year with prayers to God to bless, strengthen and guide us, and now we offered thanks to Him for the successful completion of our labors. However, we turn to our Lord not just for those who are to complete their studies, but for all of us who teach, study and are directly or indirectly related to the work of the Seminary. This is a holiday for all of us, a joyful and blessed occasion.
The struggle of Saints Kirill and Methodious whose memory we celebrate today, reminded us of our mission in the Seminary. They were sent in obedience to the holy Church to save souls for Christ. They continued the work of the first divine missionary, our Lord Jesus Christ who was sent by His Father to save the world. We must always remind ourselves that our mission is to serve Christ, and through him to save souls from hell. But in order to do this successfully we ourselves must know Christ, as Saint Ignatius Briachaninov wrote, " Christians you must know Christ!". The Holy Fathers especially those of the First Ecumenical Council left us a spiritual legacy to study and guide us to a proper understanding of Christ and His church. Without a correct, uncompromising, Orthodox, understanding, we will fail in our mission.
I congratulate our graduates, all of our students, faculty, and administration on this festive day. Let us all rejoice in God's blessing, be grateful to Him for all that he has done for us, and faithfully continue to serve Him either here at the seminary or wherever you are sent to continue His divine mission. amen
Ваше Высокопреосвященство, отцы, выпускники, студенты, братья и сестры!
В начале учебнаго года, мы молились чтобы Господь благословил, укрепил и направил нас, a теперь мы только что Его благодарили за успешное завершение наших трудов. Мы обращаемся ко Господу с молитвой не только о тех, кто закончили свое обучение, но о всех учащих и учащихся, а также о всех, прямо или косвенно труждающихся на благо семинарии. Этот день для всех нас – день праздничный, радостное и благословенное событие.
Подвиг угодников Божиих Кирилла и Мефодия, чью память которую мы сегодня празднуем, напоминает нам о нашей миссии в семинарии. По послушанию Святой Церкви, они посланы были спасать души для Христа. Они продолжали спасительный подвиг перваго Божественнаго миссионера, Господа нашего Иисуса Христа, который послан был Отцом Своим для спасения мира. Мы должны всегда помнить что наша миссия - это служить Христу и вместе с Ним спасать из ада души человеческие.
Чтобы успешно исполнить эту миссию, мы должны сами знать Христа, как пишет свят. Игнатий Брянчанинов: "Христиане, вы должны знать Христа!" Все Святые Отцы, особенно же отцы Первого Вселенского Собора, оставили нам свое духовное наследие, дабы мы изучали его и тем самым направлялись к правильному пониманию Христа и Его Церкви. Без правильного, бескомпромиссного православнаго понимания, мы потерпим кораблекрушение в наших трудах.
Хочу поздравить наших выпускников, всех наших студентов, преподавателей, администрацию в сей праздничный день.
Возрадуемся о Боге, возблагодарим Его за все, что Он для нас сделал. С Его помощью продолжим наше служение здесь в семинарии или там, где Вы будете назначены продолжать Его спасительную миссию. Аминь.
Your Beatitude, reverend fathers, fellow students, brothers and sisters: it is a great honor and a blessing to be here with you today. Out of the many people who have given me their support, I would like to thank Fr. Luke and Fr. Ephraim, my instructors and fellow seminarians, friends in Hawaii and San Francisco, and, of course, my family: my parents, Keith and Maria Martin, my younger brother, Christian, and my sisters, Po‘okela and Isabella. They unfortunately were not able to be here to celebrate with me, but will be watching this on video later.
The first time I visited Jordanville was nearly six years ago for the Summer Liturgical Music Program. The trees were a verdant green, just like they are today, and I almost felt that I was in the Shire and that I was going to run into a hobbit at any moment. Fr. Luke, who had heard that I was interested in seminary, took me by the elbow and led me to his office, where he gave me a seminary catalog. It took a year for me to finally decide to go to seminary, because it was such a big step to live for five years somewhere in the middle of upstate New York.
I entered Jordanville with a great deal of expectations and fears, mostly involving getting up at five-thirty in the morning. My original intention was actually just to stay for two years and move on to whatever came next. Well, five years later, here I am! Whatever the case, my entire life seemed to be shifting gears and changing course. I experienced many things for the first time. My first experience in the altar was here, and I was quite awkward and clumsy as a first-year. At one time, while I was trying to balance a candle in one hand and an analogion in the other, my hair caught fire. The other altar-server, who knew little English, would for quite a while afterward point at me and say, “John, fire!” Another new experience was my taste of fishholodets. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of trying this Jordanville delicacy, it consists of pureed fish suspended in savory gelatin. We have it every Pascha and Christmas. To put it lightly, it was an acquired taste, but for some strange reason it seemed to get better and better with each passing year. Finally, two years ago I went to Russia for the first time with a youth choir. Since I was a part of the seminary choir, I had the opportunity to take part in this all-expenses-paid trip. We had a whirlwind tour of Russia, going to Moscow, then St. Petersburg, and then Moscow again, all in the course of a week.
After the initial excitement of novelty wore off, I began to realize that coming here had not automatically changed me, and that the Uncreated Light didn't suddenly burst from my face the day I stepped into my dorm room. The same thing applied to my schoolmates: everyone was here with their own strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes they got on my nerves, and sometimes I got on theirs. But in the end, I thought of my fellow seminarians as “a happy few,” a band of brothers. There were five people in my first-year class: David from Texas, Jason from Walla Walla, Washington, Srdjan the Serb from Chicago, Stojanche from Macedonia, and me. We each had our own opinions and personalities, and we oftentimes clashed with one another, but in so doing we became more well-rounded people. We were like potatoes being poured into the potato-peeling machine; we bounced off each other, but in the end came out washed and neatly peeled. Now there are only three of us left: Stojanche, me, and Ilija, who started a year later but put in the valiant effort to catch up with us. David and Jason went on to become monastics at Holy Cross Monastery in West Virginia. Fr. David is a rassophore monk, and Jason is now known as Hierodeacon Paisios. As for Srdjan, his bishop sent him to Moscow Theological Seminary, where he was also tonsured a monk. When he told me of his decision to become a monk, I said to him, “What, are we all going to become monks now!?” Now he’s Hieromonk Sergius. Even though we are separated by great distances, I still think of them as my fellow seminarians and brothers in Christ.
For those of you who are continuing on your seminary journey, I would like to say: hang on. I know that sometimes you’ll have your bad days. There were many days when I felt frustrated and longed for the beaches of Waikīkī. But with God’s help, you’ll make it, and years from now, when you look back at your time here, I hope you will remember the valuable lessons you learned, in class, in school, and among yourselves. I myself will treasure the memories I made here for the tomorrows to come. Thank you.
-Reader John Martin (Summa Cum Laude)