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Keynote Address of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia 
to Seminary Graduates at the Annual Commencement Ceremonies of Holy Trinity Seminary

From the Editors: Having celebrated Divine Liturgy at the cathedral of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, on Sunday, May 26, 2013, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York participated in the Commencement of Holy Trinity Seminary. Below is the speech read by His Eminenence:  

Dear Brothers and Fathers, Graduates of Holy Trinity Seminary, 
CHRIST IS RISEN!

Today is a special day for you, “a chosen and Holy Day,”  for you are entering into a grace-filled but difficult path of service to Christ and His Church, a path to which your glorious predecessors had devoted their lives—clergymen and missionaries: St Herman of Alaska; Metropolitan Innokenty of Moscow, Equal-to-the-Apostles; St Tikhon the Confessor, Patriarch of All Russia, and other ascetics whose labors and prayers established, so far from their homeland, Holy Trinity Monastery and its Orthodox seminary, as well as the parishes and monasteries of the Russian Church Abroad.  

Within the walls of this religious school you spent four years mastering the theological sciences, immersing yourselves deeply in the Liturgical and Patristic legacy of Holy Orthodoxy, absorbing practical habits which will be necessary for you in the field of ecclesial and missionary service. Praying daily and laboring together with the monks of this holy monastery, you have communed with the spirit of monastic life, you have learned of active love towards ones neighbor. Many of you have come here from other countries and even other continents.

One hopes that the separation you suffered from family and familiar surroundings was compensated by the familial and prayerful environment of Holy Trinity Monastery, by the support of the monastics, your teachers, spiritual guides and friends. Within these walls you strengthened in faith, endured the tribulations of your earnest strivings, growing in the experience of spiritual life. Here your finest qualities have been honed, your talents revealed and perfected. Bear within you for the rest of your lives gratitude towards your teachers and fellow students: justify the time spent here and the efforts of those who taught you. Preserve in your hearts good memories of this splendid and spiritually-edifying period of your life, which the Lord granted you to spend within the walls of our glorious religious school, and wherever it is you go to serve, never lose contact with each other.  

In our quickly-changing world, great opportunities open for you in the harvest-fields of pastoral, missionary and spiritually-educational labors. The Orthodox world is today experiencing a need for selfless, God-loving pastors and self-denying missionaries, ready to carry forth the light of the Truth of Christ to remote heterodox lands, establishing parish communities “from nothing” and building churches in places where the Russian diaspora abides, working in the field of education, illuminating the young generation and bringing them into the Church.  

Special congratulations and my most genuine good wishes, also, to our graduates, clerical and church servants. Be zealous activists in the harvest-fields of Christ, building not only external, visible churches, but your own internal churches, as well as temples in the souls of your parishioners. 

Remember that a pastor today, besides requiring spiritual qualities, is called upon to correspond to the educational and cultural level of contemporary society, perpetually, throughout your lives, to fill the bank of your knowledge. Try to the best of your abilities to be worthy of human hearts who must see in you a loving father and advisor on their paths to eternal salvation. Be true to Christ and to the flock entrusted to you; love prayer, divine services and standing before the Divine Altar; give no quarter to temptation within the church community; serve as an example of a truly-Christian, zealous, God-pleasing life, so as not to bring shame upon the calling of an Orthodox clergyman. Avoid the spirit of worldly yearning, noisy declarations and excessive pontification. May your companions always be sacrifice, love and attention towards people, understanding, patience and humility. Do not forget the education and churchification of the young generation. Apply all your powers to preserving the church unity commanded to us by Christ the Savior.  

My dear friends! No matter what obstacles meet you on the path of service to the Church, lay your hope in the Lord, always preserve in your hearts the words which the Savior, ascending into Heaven, said to His disciples: “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). May the Chief Pastor, our Lord Jesus Christ and His Most-Pure Mother grant you wisdom and strengthen you in your forthcoming and grace-filled service to the benefit of the Holy Mother Church. I prayerfully wish you perpetual spiritual joy and fruitful service, and invoke upon you God’s blessing.