Diocesan Seminarian Graduates St. Tikhon's Seminary with Distinction in Pastoral Theology - 05/24/08South Canaan, Pennsylvania
On Saturday, May 24, 2008, at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary’s 66th Commencement, fifteen seminarians graduated. Unlike previous years, all the graduates had earned Master of Divinity degrees, and there were no graduates from the diploma program. After completing a three-year program of study, including many church services and two years of field work, these men will disperse throughout the country and the world to serve the Church as clergy, scholars, and lay leaders. Among them was our own Deacon Nikolai (Kevin) Meyers from St. Andrew Antiochian Orthodox Church in Riverside, California.
The pervading tone of the ceremony was one of gratefulness. His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN, president of the seminary opened the ceremony with a prayer of thanksgiving to God; His Grace, Bishop TIKHON, rector of the seminary, expressed his gratitude to the graduates, faculty, staff, administration, and board of trustees for their hard work and sacrifices; witnessing my husband, Deacon Nikolai, graduate, and realizing that our seminary years had come to a close, I felt a wave of gratefulness for all that we’ve learned, the people we’ve met, and the spiritual growth that we’ve experienced.
Each graduate was hooded by the academic dean, Archpriest Alexander Golubov, blessed by His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN, and greeted by His Grace, Bishop TIKHON and Archpriest Michael Dahulich, the administrative dean. Fr. Michael had warm words of congratulations for each student as they returned to their seats.
His Eminence, Archbishop SERAPHIM of Ottawa and Canada of the Orthodox Church in America opened his inspiring address with a verse from St. Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews--”Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” He went on to explain the Orthodox understanding of what it is to be a true theologian. He explained that while the class of 2008 has spent the last several years collecting theological knowledge from books and lectures, in order to become true theologians they must assimilate this knowledge into their lives. They must come to personally know the Word whom they have studied and imitate Him, if they are to lead people to Him. Warning of the hardships of a Christ like life in this unstable world, His Eminence referred back to his first words, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
Next Fr. Alexander Golubov honored the three students who had completed a thesis or project. Deacon Daniel Dennis Matthai developed a program called, “Strengthening the Pillars: Developing a Full-Time Youth Ministry Program for the American Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church”; Deacon Nikolai wrote a thesis entitled “Perspectives on Orthodox Unity in North America and their Pastoral Implications”; Kyrill Williams entitled his thesis “The Season for Wisdom: A Patristic Commentary of the Book of Ecclesiastics.” Finally, Fr. Alexander recognized Fr. Seraphim Majmudar for earning the highest GPA of the class--3.99. Bidding the graduating class a gracious farewell, His Beatitude encouraged them to begin their work for the people of God and to send more men to seminary to become ministers in the Lord’s service.
Reflecting on my husband’s graduation, I realized that seeing my husband receive his diploma meant more to be than my own collage graduation. His diploma represents more than a Master of Divinity degree--It represents three years of intense learning, changing, and growing for both of us. Although I don’t deserve a degree, and I haven’t worked as hard as Deacon Nikolai, I feel a deep sense of accomplishment. I have learned so much, and my spiritual life has deepened from watching my husband learn, attending lectures and church services, and interacting with faculty and other students. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity we’ve had to attend St. Tikhon’s, and I look forward to serving the Church in whatever way the Lord would have us.
By: Shamassy Jeanette Meyers
(Wife of Diocesan Graduate, Deacon Nikolai Meyers)