May 25, 2013
His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, Rector and President of the Board of Trustees of the Seminary presided over the commencement exercises. Also present for the occasion were His Grace Bishop Daniel, President of the Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA as well members of the Seminary’s Board of Trustees, Metropolia Council and about 170 guests and visitors to the sacred grounds of the Metropolia Center of the UOC of the USA.
The graduation ceremony was held in evening hours of the day, allowing pastors and visitors to the center battle rainy day and severe traffic conditions on major intestates of the East Coast of the US.
Earlier in the day, the entire student body gathered for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in Three Holy Hierarchs Chapel of St. Sophia Seminary. His Grace Bishop Daniel, the main celebrant of the Liturgy was joined at the altar by Rev. Fr. Anthony Perkins, Adjunct professor of the Seminary and the most recent clergy-seminarians of St. Sophia, who for the very last time stood about the sacred space of the chapel as seminarians. In his final words of instruction, following the Divine Liturgy, the bishop, stated:“…Graduation day is an occasion of great joy and great expectation. Joy, because after years of theological study and spiritual preparation, you have realized your academic goal. And expectation, because now you are ordained to shepherd the flock of Jesus Christ in our broken world. In his first letter, St. Peter said: “Attend the flock of God, that is your charge, not by constraint, but willingly, not for shameful gain, but eagerly, not as domineering of those in your charge, but being an example to the flock” (I Peter 5:2-3)… I would like to remind you, my dear graduates in particular, from whom I have learned so much as well, that the parish communities of our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA which you will be serving in the future are not St. Sophia’s Seminary. This holy place where you are receiving your theological and spiritual formation is a spiritual “paradise”. However, in your future communities, you will encounter the believer and the unbeliever, the sacred and the profane, the literate and the illiterate, the sick and the healthy, the rich and the poor, the good sheep and the black sheep — you must minister to all of them and love them…”
The official ceremony of Commencement began with the formal academic procession from the main administrative building (Consistory) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. The banner of St. Sophia Seminary (presented by the graduation class) led the procession of seventeen graduates and their professors into Cultural Center of the Church for the presentation of diplomas. Following a short Moleben service, led by his Eminence Metropolitan Antony and His Grace Bishop Daniel, Very Rev. Bazyl Zawierucha, Provost of St. Sophia Seminary opened the ceremony reflecting upon the history of theological school of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, paying special tribute to three individuals – Metropolitan +Constantine, +Protopresbyter Frank Estocin and +Ihumen Gregory (Woolfenden) of blessed memory, who touched generations of clergy of the Church with personal examples of academic and pastoral excellence.
The Very Rev. Thomas Fitzgerald, Dean and Professor of Church History and Historical Theology of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, MA, delivered the commencement address, in which he prayerfully instructed the graduating class to go into the world, sharing the Word of God with unconditional love and self-sacrifice.
Rev. Anthony Perkins and Rev, Vasyl Pasakas, graduation class valedictorians, offered words of encouragement to underclassmen and thanked the seminary faculty and administration for their commitment to theological education; while a video presentation, prepared by the office of the Dean of Students of St. Sophia Seminary paid tribute to the graduates for their perseverance and example.
As the final act of Commencement Ceremonies, the Charge to the Graduates was offered by the First Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and President of the Board of Trustees of St. Sophia Seminary – His Eminence Metropolitan Antony. “In the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy 4): ‘I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and Hid kingdom: Preach the Word!~ Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching…’ The people’s defense against apostasy is Orthodox preaching! The priest’s defense against apostasy is loyalty to Tradition! (2 Timothy 3:14): ‘But you must continue the in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them and that from childhood you have known from the Holy Scritures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ.’ Although it says ‘Master of Divinity’ on the diplomas you now hold in your hands, I assure you that you will soon discover that you are the master of nothing if you fail to continue to study Holy Scripture and the teachings of the Holy Fathers in order to be able to reach, teach and touch the lives of those entrusted to your spiritual care as priests of our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Remember that your authority to serve as a priest comes not through that piece of paper, but through the Grace of God you receive through the Holy Spirit as your bishop lays his hands upon you and prays the prayers of which Fr. Fitzgerald spoke in his sound words. It is that Grace which will enable you in all your priestly efforts. It is that Grace, which will carry you through any situation you face in life – whether tragic or prideful. Your authority is not, as Fr. Thomas said, ‘over’ those you serve, but rather ‘within’ those you serve. We are so very proud of you young men who left families, friends and all the life you have known thousands of miles away in our native Ukraine. We are so very proud of those of you already serving parishes for years having completed our late vocations post-graduate program, who left very prominent secular employment because you heard God’s call and responded to it! We embrace you all and shall have you in our prayers each and every day of our lives. You know the ‘way in which you must go’ in leading souls to salvation – you must comprehend it and move confidently forward so that souls will not hesitate or fear to follow you.”
Master of Divinity degrees were awarded to Rev. Gregory Czumak; Rev. Michael Danczak; Rev.Vasyl Dovgan; James Guba; V. Rev. John Haluszczak; Bohdan Khromenko; Rev. Borislav Kroner; Rev. Andriy Matlak; Rev. Paisius McGrath; Rev. Vasyl Pasakas; Rev. Anthony Perkins; Rev. Francis Rella; Charles Sanderson; Deacon Mikhail Sawarynski; Rev. Mark Swindle; Deacon Nicholas Zachary; Rev. Zinoviy Zharsky
Master of Arts in Applied Theology degree was awarded to Deacon James Cairns.
Licentiate in Theology degrees were awarded to Deacon Philip Harendza and Subdeacon Ioan Mazur.
The day concluded with a formal dinner, offered in honor of the graduates of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Bound Brook, NJ.
Source: St. Sophia Seminary