JORDANVILLE: June 4, 2008
Commencement at Holy Trinity Seminary: Metropolitan Hilarion's Impressions
My first liturgical celebration at Holy Trinity Monastery as Metropolitan coincided with the 60th graduation exercises of Holy Trinity Seminary. For many years, first as a student then as an instructor before my consecration as bishop of Manhattan, I was closely associated with the Seminary. Those were the twilight days of the first generation of founders and well known instructors of our theological school. I was privileged to have participated in some way and to have gained knowledge and experience from that generation. However, it was obvious that their powers were waning and with their passing until the present, I had no awareness of the possibility of restoring even in part, the legacy of our theological institution.
During my visit to the Seminary this weekend I had ample opportunity to acquaint myself with the latest developments and renewal that have occurred over the years since I left to serve the Church in other capacities. Without exaggeration, what I observed was a complete transformation. The Seminary administration has made notable progress and positive changes in all areas.†
Despite the more rigid demands for higher academic standards by the New York State Accreditation board, the Seminary was not only able to meet these demands, but was recently granted an unprecedented ten year term of further accreditation. The majority of the graduates since 2000 are now serving the Church in one or another capacity. More efforts need to be made not only by the Seminary but also by our archpastors and pastors to recruit new students. Working ties have been established with other Orthodox seminaries in North America and Russia. Four international theological conferences have been sponsored by the Seminary with an independent Holy Trinity Seminary Press established to publish the results of these conferences.
Student life has been invigorated with trips to conferences, exhibits and membership in the Orthodox Inter Seminary Movement, with one of our students now serving as the president of the movement.
The changes in the library are worth noting. The collection has been greatly expanded, the library resources have been made available to a wider community though grants aiding the libraryís retro-conversion project of cataloguing the collection and making it available on the new and popular seminary website. An archival project has been established with a generous grant that will preserve and make available for future generations the valuable materials housed at the Seminary including the library and papers of the late Metropolitan Laurus, which are now preserved in the Seminaryís archive.
It was very inspiring to see many of these improvements and I have communicated my satisfaction to members of the administration and community on their efforts. So many of the efforts to improve the academic standards by the late Dr. Nicholas Alexandrov are now coming to fruition.† I pray to God that the Seminary will continue to labor in its service to the Church and I look forward to more visits and fellowship with the students and administration. I was touched by the warm welcome I received and hope that we all can continue cooperating together to work for the glory of God in the service of our Holy Church. Invoking Godís blessing and the prayers of the Holy Three Hierarchs!
Your humble servant,