On Friday evening, September 11, 2015, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America and President of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary here, welcomed His Holiness, Patriarch Irinej of Serbia to the seminary campus, where he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate during an academic convocation and delivered a well-received lecture.
Patriarch Irinej’s visit came just days after he presided at the canonization of Saints Sebastian [Dabovich] of San Francisco and Jackson, the first American-born Orthodox priest, and Mardarije [Uskokovic] of Libertyville, the first bishop of the Serbian Diocese in America, which took place in Alhambra, CA on Saturday, September 5.
Accompanying Patriarch Irinej were His Grace, Bishop Maxim of the Western American Diocese; His Grace, Bishop Mitrophan of the Eastern American Diocese; and His Grace, Bishop Justin of Zica.
Metropolitan Tikhon and the seminary clergy, faculty, staff, students, trustees and guests welcomed Patriarch Irinej in the seminary’s Three Hierarch’s Chapel, where he venerated the relics of Saint Vladimir and the Holy Hierarchs Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom. After the singing of the troparia of the newly glorified Saints Sebastian and Mardarije, Metropolitan Tikhon offered official greetings on behalf of the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops and presented the Patriarch with a panagia.
Mr. Alex Machaskee, SVOTS Board Chair, led the hierarchs and attendees into the Metropolitan Philip Auditorium, where Metropolitan Tikhon opened the academic convocation, at which Archpriest Dr. John Behr, Dean, presided. Father John offered a biographical sketch of Patriarch Irinej, after which the text of the Doctorate Honoris Causa was read. After the Patriarch was invested with the academic hood and doctoral cross, he delivered his lecture, titled “Theology as a Hope for the Future of the Church.” [The full text of Patriarch Irinej’s lecture appears below.]
Patriarch Irinej, the 45th Patriarch of Serbia, was enthroned in his present position in January 2010. He was ordained as a hieromonk in 1959. After his consecration to the episcopacy, he served as Bishop of Moravica and Nis prior to his election as Patriarch. He also was both a professor and rector of Prizren Seminary.