JORDANVILLE: June 5, 2005

His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus Returns to Holy Trinity Monastery and Officiates at Seminary Graduation

His Eminence, accompanied by Protodeacon Victor Lochmatow and Subdeacon Nicholas Olhovsky, arrived at a New York airport on May 31, where he was met by Protopriest Andrei Sommer and Nicholas Ohotin, Communications Director of the Synod of Bishops, and immediately left for Holy Trinity Monastery. The following morning, His Eminence joined the monastery brethren, as usual, for Midnight Office, which began at five in the morning, and the Hours and Divine Liturgy.

A typical day in Holy Trinity Monastery begins at 4:30 in the morning with the bell-ringer's prayer: "Time for chanting, the hour of prayer, Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us." Once the monks have been woken, they gather in the main monastery church at 5:00 a.m. for Midnight Office and morning prayers. After the completion of the service, having venerated the icons and the many holy objects and having received the abbot’s blessing, some of the monastics depart to their obediences while others remain for the daily Divine Liturgy, where they are joined by the seminarians. His Eminence, Vladyka Laurus, has prayed daily with the monks at Midnight Office and the Divine Liturgy since he became abbot in 1976.

After breakfast, His Eminence blessed the monks who welcomed him home and proceeded to his office.

On Sunday, June 4, His Eminence celebrated the Divine Liturgy along with His Grace, Bishop Peter of Cleveland and the monastic clergy and visiting priests. His Eminence then led a Thanksgiving Service and officiated at the Seminary Commencement Exercises, during which diplomas and gifts were distributed to those who had completed their studies at Holy Trinity Seminary: Deacon Daniel Marshall, Monk Theophan, Nathan Williams, Nikolaj Kostur, Daniil Milwood, Radomir Plavic, and Dmitri Filatov. His Eminence, who is the Rector of the Seminary, addressed the graduates, expressing the hope that those who had completed their studies this year would become good pastors and servants of the Church.

Nikolaj Kostur – who had been ordained as Reader on this day by the request of His Grace, Bishop Longin of Novo-Gracanica (Serbian Orthodox Church), and is the son of Protopriest Lazar Kostur, who graduated Holy Trinity Seminary in 1967 and became a clergyman of the Serbian Orthodox Church – spoke on behalf of the graduates. In his speech, Nikolaj Lazarevich noted that the monastery and seminary are indivisible: in the seminary, the students learn theology; in the monastery, they gain spiritual experience. Monks serve as examples for the young seminarians, teaching them obedience, humility, prayer, and fraternal love, and giving them needed guidance. The daily and festal services, the various obediences, and the reception of pilgrims give necessary practical experience and draw one into church life. Nikolaj Lazarevich described Holy Trinity Monastery as a school of repentance and expressed gratitude to the late fathers of the monastery and seminary: Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko, +1960) and Archbishop Averky (Taushev, +1976), who always stressed that the best place for a seminary is in a monastery. Nikolai Lazarevich then, on behalf of the graduates, thanked His Eminence, Metropolitan Laurus for his paternal care, love, and spiritual support: ̉Those of us who came here from the Serbian Orthodox Church are especially grateful to His Eminence for his care. His Eminence, Vladyka, by showing us love and support, demonstrated to us that the fraternal bonds that have always connected the Serbian Church and the Russian Church Abroad are very dear to him." Nikolaj Lazarevich also thanked His Grace, Bishop Peter of Cleveland, the seminary administration and the monastic brethren. Special thanks were expressed to Igumen George (Schaeffer), Hieromonk Roman (Krassovsky), Protodeacon Victor Lochmatow, and Protodeacon John Onopko for the efforts they expended towards the education of the seminarians, the future servants of the Church.Graduating student Deacon Daniel Marshall then read an appreciation in English.

Professor Nickolas Lupinin delivered the Commencement Address.

During the trapeza that followed, Mr. S.V. Garmonin, General Consul of the Russian Federation in New York, offered thanks to His Eminence, the Rector, Archimandrite Luke (Murianka), Acting Dean of the Seminary, and Deacon Vladimir Tsurikov, Assistant Dean.

It is noteworthy that a group of students from Holy Trinity Seminary will make a pilgrimage this summer to the holy places of Russia, during which they will visit theological schools and meet with clergy and faithful.