A Message from Dean Nicolas Schidlovsky, PhD.

As last year drew to a close, I took the opportunity to reflect on the many people who keep expressing their enthusiasm for what they saw and heard in Jordanville during our 75 th anniversary in September. The celebration, they say, was of such warmth and welcoming reception with so much informative discussion that it will be difficult to forget for anyone who was present.

The reasons for this, I feel, are numerous, and while extending my deepest gratitude to all our faculty, students, speakers, and administrators who helped make this happen I would like to share just a few additional thoughts that may be useful towards an overall perspective, for in reality what stood behind these events with such spirit was the sense that our institution had arrived at a new threshold and vision for itself.

First and foremost, this was obviously an occasion to review Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary’s past as rooted in many feats of faith, bravery, and remarkable spiritual fortitude. Due to the ruthless realities of mid-20 th -century world politics, the Church had no choice but to begin building in many new locations quite literally starting from “ground zero”—and it often had to do so under circumstances that could be dire and deprived of any ready support. The Cold War had severed contacts between many key church leaders, thus segregating regions of traditional patronage from those in need of new encouragement. Naturally, all of this signified a difficult road ahead, one that would begin with myriad questions, foreseeable thorny obstacles, as well as the potential for serious disagreements of a kind previously unknown in the Orthodox mission, even among its most competent and dedicated clergy.

Nevertheless, what our anniversary program offered could hardly be seen in terms of a limiting retrospective. While acknowledging multiple historical challenges and achievements, its aim was mainly to inspire an increasingly focused and confident outlook on the future. The organizing committee’s reasoning was simple: the more one reflects upon the values set forth by various 20 th - century accomplishments especially during the fateful decades of the 20s through the 50s, the more one sees the clear mandate that still stands before our institution. It is all too often forgotten by many faithful that the founding of Jordanville’s Seminary took place in the thick of a massive centrifuge. At the time, the Orthodox Church in the West had already of necessity, visibly embarked on a path of no return, and if the way forward was now all about new frontiers, then charting fresh inroads for the ever-strengthening spiritual and intellectual formation of new pastors especially in North America was all too plainly a looming priority.

What we affirmed in September, therefore, was Jordanville Seminary’s founding in 1948 not as an exclusive undertaking, but rather as part of a much wider initiative involving many persons who harbored mostly transcendent objectives intended to cut across timelines, geographical boundaries, and the nascent jurisdictional claims that were springing up everywhere. It was precisely this perspective, I believe, that was so inspiring for many of our attendees, especially those who participated in the day-long program titled “The Orthodox Christian Seminary in the 21 st Century” (Sat., Sept. 16). Despite the broad spectrum of topics that was discussed on this occasion, the unifying message was loud and clear. A useful picture of church contemporaneity—i.e., where we are today—is invariably drawn from comprehensive internalization of everything that came before—namely, all that lay the groundwork for the expansive outlook that was becoming a growing inspiration among so many faithful, clergy, scholars, and theologians who began to contribute, each one in his or her own way, a most heartfelt desire to simply do the very best they could for the Church at the time.

No assessment of what catapulted our September events, however, would be complete without mention of at least one more thing. The days were clearly replete with many offerings, and the positive force that tied everything together also owed so much to the remarkable choral and keyboard concert that took place on Friday, the glorious church services on Saturday evening and Sunday with so much singing and resonant bell ringing, as well as our concluding banquet in an elegant hotel alongside Otsego Lake in nearby Cooperstown. But permeating all this, it was also the appearance of a brand-new book from Holy Trinity Publications— “Glorified in America: Laborers in the New World from Saint Alexis to Elder Ephraim” that so briskly captivated everyone’s attention. Upon its receipt or purchase, most individuals immediately saw it yet as another unforeseen gift of their visit to Jordanville intended to inspire ever deepening and informed reflection probably best in the quiet of one’s own home.

It is my sincere hope that the accomplishment of this publication in 2023 will be equally remembered as a key event of our 75 th year because the full scope of what Jordanville and its Seminary truly stand for on this beautiful site in Upstate New York cannot really be grasped without a good knowledge of the holy lives described within these covers. Today, as we keep swimming past so much of what weighed us down in the past, I believe it will be precisely these very vitae that are destined to become our most reliable beacons towards the warm shores that are increasingly visible ahead. Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary’s founding three-quarters of a century ago could not have taken place without a crucial awareness of the activity of the pioneer figures that the Church had already introduced in this land and whose arrival here was so obviously facilitated during the last decades before Russia’s debacle.

May I suggest that if you don’t already own this book—purchase it without delay! Among other things, it is beautifully illustrated and can make such a wonderful gift for anyone in your family or your circle of friends.

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Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary
PO Box 36; Jordanville, NY 13361
1407 Robinson Road, Jordanville, NY 13361
315-858-0945 (Phone)
315-409-1422 (Fax)