Etna, California, U.S.A.
 
2019

Seminary News

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Adjunct Professor Lectures on the Scientific Cosmogony

On December 27, 2019, the Very Reverend Archimandrite Father Glykerios, a member of the Brotherhood of the Holy Monastery of Saints Cyprian and Justina in Phyle, Greece, delivered a public lecture entitled “The Scientific Cosmogony” at the Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary, where he is an Adjunct Professor. A native of France, Father Glykerios is a graduate of the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, where he earned the Master of Mathematics degree; he subsequently went on to earn the prestigious Agrégation de mathématiques, a highly competitive civil service certification awarded by the French public education system. After he completed his education, he converted to Orthodoxy and was, in turn, Tonsured a monk, Ordained a Deacon, Ordained a Priest, and advanced to the rank of Archimandrite. Later in his monastic career, he renewed his interest in the sciences, especially with a view to apologetics.

The lecture, given at the request of the Rector of the Seminary, the Most Reverend Bishop Auxentios of Etna and Portland, was a brief summation of the Science and Religion course Father Glykerios taught at the Seminary during the Nativity Term. Father Glykerios presented the account of the beginning and development of the material universe developed by the natural sciences over the past century, recounting various major discoveries made in physics, astronomy, geology, and other fields. He also indicated numerous parallels between recent scientific discoveries and the teachings of Holy Scripture and the Fathers of the Church.

When, during the question and answer period that followed his presentation, Father Glykerios was asked about the supposed connection between science and atheism, he responded that he did not think it possible for a true scientist to be an atheist, for a true scientist experiences the mysteries of creation. The lecture was well received by all in attendance.

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Saint Nicholas Feast Day Celebration

On Thursday, December 19, 2019, the Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary hosted a special gathering for the Orthodox Christian community of Scott Valley and for local friends of the Seminary to celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker.

Under the guidance of the Very Reverend Hegumen Father Akakios, who oversees ministry formation at the Seminary, the celebration began in the auditorium with a performance by the student body. Seminarian Timothy Granger opened with a talk about the life of Saint Nicholas and his enduring significance for Orthodox Christians. This was followed by the student choir singing a number of traditional hymns and carols; the choir consisted of Kira Rapp, Teodora Munteanu, Aliya Molinari, and Julie Ling, who were joined by Alexei Bushunow, a devoted supporter of the Seminary. Interspersed with the choral singing were several pieces played on the hammered dulcimer by seminarian Uriah Lantzer.

After the student performance, a formal banquet was held in the dining hall. A delicious fasting meal was prepared and served by the students of the Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary and by the nuns of the Convent of Saint Elizabeth the Grand Duchess of Russia.

Following this festal luncheon, the participants gathered again in the auditorium to exchange gifts, as Orthodox Christians traditionally do in honor of Saint Nicholas, who is renowned for his tremendous charity. The Most Reverend Bishop Auxentios of Etna and Portland, Rector of the Seminary, then concluded the celebration by giving a slideshow presentation of his recent pilgrimage to Romania and Greece.

The many visitors and guests invited to the celebration were deeply edified by and thoroughly enjoyed the day’s events.

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Public Lecture on the Reproductive Sciences Held at Seminary

On Thursday, November 21, 2019, Presbytera Agnieszka Ferens delivered a public lecture in the auditorium of the Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary on various aspects of the reproductive sciences. Her lecture was based on her extensive professional knowledge and experience as a registered nurse and as a midwife. She currently works at the Jacobs Medical Center of the University of California San Diego Health System in La Jolla, California.

The modern reproductive sciences, a new field established within the past four decades, includes the study of contraceptive techniques and technologies, as well as infertility treatments and alternatives, such as in vitro fertilization. Presbytera Agnieszka presented a basic overview of some of the most recent developments in these fields, along with the parallel legal developments in various countries in response to these advances. She also provided valuable personal testimony from her work at the Jacobs Medical Center, which conducts cutting-edge research in the reproductive sciences. While her presentation was primarily informative, Presbytera Agnieszka emphasized the need for the contemporary Orthodox Church to put forth a well-informed, Patristic response to these new developments, especially for the pastoral use of clergymen, who must confront these issues in their parish ministries.

A founding and active member of the Saint Seraphim of Sarov and Saint John of Kronstadt Orthodox Church in La Mesa, California, a parish of the Holy Diocese of Etna and Portland of the American Eparchy of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece, Presbytera Agnieszka is the mother of two of the Seminary’s faculty members, the Reverend Hierodeacon Photii and Mr. Mateusz J. Ferens. She also serves as a medical advisor to the Seminary.

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Inaugural Commencement Exercise Held at Seminary

The Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary held its first-ever commencement exercise on the evening of Friday, May 17, 2019, in the Seminary auditorium. The ceremony opened with the recitation of prayers and the singing of several hymns by the choir of the Convent of Saint Elizabeth the Grand Duchess of Russia, followed by readings from the Apostolos and the Gospel. Addresses were then delivered by His Eminence, the Most Reverend Bishop Dr. Auxentios, Rector of the Seminary; the Very Reverend Archimandrite Dr. Patapios, Dean of the Seminary; the Very Reverend Archimandrite Gregory, one of the Master’s graduates; and Schemanun Eupraxia, one of the Bachelor’s graduates. His Eminence then conferred the Master of Theological Studies degree on three of the graduates and the Bachelor of Theology degree on another three graduates. The Very Reverend Hegumen Dr. Akakios, a Professor at the Seminary, offered closing remarks, and His Eminence concluded with a prayer and the dismissal. The exercise itself was immediately followed by a banquet, served by the nuns of the Convent and the students of the Seminary, in the Seminary dining hall.

The six graduates of the Class of 2019 included three members of the Brotherhood of the Saint Gregory Palamas Monastery and three members of the Sisterhood of the Convent of Saint Elizabeth the Grand Duchess of Russia. The Very Reverend Archimandrite Gregory, Schemamonk Father Chrysostomos, and Schemanun Mother Seraphima received the Master of Theological Studies degree, while the Reverend Hierodeacon Photii, Schemanun Mother Synkletike, and Schemanun Mother Eupraxia received the Bachelor of Theology degree. Father Gregory and Father Chrysostomos have gone on to enroll in the Doctor of Ministry Program at the San Francisco Theological Seminary, the alma mater of the Very Reverend Hegumen Dr. Akakios and the Reverend Abbess Dr. Elizabeth, the Superiors of the Monastery and of the Convent, respectively. Congratulations to the Class of 2019! See, in the photograph above, from left to right, Father Photii, Father Gregory, Father Chrysostomos, Father Patapios, Bishop Auxentios, Mother Seraphima, Mother Synkletike, and Mother Eupraxia.

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The Right Reverend Bishop Ambrose of Methone Lectures at Seminary

During the course of a stay in Etna, California, the Right Reverend Bishop Ambrose of Methone, a member of the Holy Synod of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece, delivered a public lecture at the Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary. His Grace was visiting Etna to celebrate the Feast Day of the Saint Gregory Palamas Monastery on March 24 and to attend the Fortieth-Day Memorial of Metropolitan Chrysostomos on March 27. At the invitation of the Most Reverend Bishop Auxentios, Ruling Hierarch of the Diocese of Etna and Portland and Rector of the Seminary, Bishop Ambrose graciously addressed an extemporaneous talk to the local community on the evening of March 27 about his extensive missionary activities.

His Grace’s pastoral responsibilities, which began with his Consecration to the Episcopacy in 1993, are of an astonishing breadth. As a member of the Synodal Μissionary Commission of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece, His Grace acts as the Locum Tenens of five Dioceses: the Metropolis of Sydney (Australia), the Metropolis of Kananga (Democratic Republic of Congo), the Diocese of Alania (South Ossetia), the Diocese of Richmond (United Kingdom), and the Diocese of Embu (Kenya). In addition, he oversees communities, both monastic and lay, in the Republic of the Congo, France, Belgium, New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia, as well as working with the Diocese of Luni (Italy) and facilitating relations between the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece and its Sister Church, the Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Romania. Until recently, His Grace also managed a mission in Uganda, which is now under the care of the Most Reverend Metropolitan Demetrius of America.

A polyglot and a globetrotter, Bishop Ambrose has, by the very nature of his ministry, become “a citizen of the world,” to use the expression of the philosopher Diogenes. “As you see, I have to become all things to all people,” His Grace explained. “I often get told, you know, you’re half Georgian, or you’re half Ossetian, or you’re half Kenyan, or whatever—so many halves. The most difficult thing about this is the change in mentality between each particular place. You have to get into the place, into their heads, in order to understand what they’re thinking, how they’re reacting.” As was clear from His Grace’s engrossing lecture, bearing the Apostolic cross of missionary work requires “a lot of patience, a lot of goodwill; you’re going to be accused, you’re going to be abused, you’re going to be misinterpreted many times. That’s the case everywhere, so nothing special about the missionary field. But also a lot of zeal and love for the Orthodox Faith; without that, you’re not going to get anywhere. And to understand and to be able to adapt yourself to the local circumstances. To be a visitor is easy enough, but it’s not enough; you have to be one of them.”

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Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary Achieves Preaccreditation

On Tuesday, February 19, 2019, the Commission on Accreditation of the Association for Biblical Higher Education advanced the Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary from Applicant for Accreditation to Candidate for Accreditation, the equivalent, in the terminology of the United States Department of Education, of preaccreditation. This occurred in the context of the Association for Biblical Higher Education’s Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida. The Commission on Accreditation appointed a five-member evaluation team, accompanied by a staff representative of the Commission on Accreditation and an independent observer from the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, to visit the Seminary for three days in September of last year, and it was based on the findings of this evaluation team that the Commission on Accreditation made its decision. Both the Most Reverend Bishop Dr. Auxentios of Etna and Portland, the Rector of the Seminary, and the Very Reverend Archimandrite Father Dr. Patapios, the Dean of the Seminary, were originally scheduled to be present at the Annual Meeting, but the sudden repose of the Most Reverend Metropolitan Dr. Chrysostomos of Etna on February 16 prevented Bishop Auxentios from attending as planned; Father Patapios therefore acted as the Seminary’s sole representative.

Dr. Kevin Hester, Vice-Chair of the Commission on Accreditation, announced the decision of the Commission to “grant candidate status to Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary (CA) until 2024 in light of the Commission on Accreditation’s judgment that the institution adequately complies with ABHE’s Institutional Accreditation Standards, including documentation of the appropriateness, rigor, and achievement of its stated student learning outcomes and all other Title IV eligibility requirements, and demonstrates sufficient progress to achieve initial accreditation within a maximum of five years.” We note, with reverent awe at the unfathomable Providence of God, that the very day the Seminary achieved preaccreditation was, according to the Church Calendar, the Feast Day of Saint Photios the Great, the Patron of the Seminary, and that the decision itself was communicated to Father Patapios at the very hour during which Bishop Auxentios was conducting the funeral of Metropolitan Chrysostomos, the spiritual Father of the Seminary, at the Saint Gregory Palamas Monastery in Etna, California. See, in the photograph below, from left to right, Dr. Ronald Kroll, Director of the Commission on Accreditation; Archimandrite Patapios; and Dr. M. Shane Wood, Associate Director of the Commission on Accreditation.

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Repose of Seminary Professor

It is with profound sorrow that we must announce the decease of the Most Reverend Metropolitan Dr. Chrysostomos of Etna, who, after a long bout with heart disease, reposed in the Lord on February 16, 2019. He was seventy-five years of age. Although His Eminence held the simple title of “Professor” at the Seminary, he was, nevertheless, the principal founding father of the school, which was, in many ways, the culmination of his life’s work as an academic. He lavished his extensive experience as a scholar, as an educator, and as an administrator on the establishment of the Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary, every detail of which he oversaw with diligent care.

Metropolitan Chrysostomos (in the world, A. E. J. González de Iturriaga Alexopoulos) came from a family of cultured aristocrats, learned academics, and accomplished professionals. A natural polyhistor, His Eminence learned Greek, English, German, French, and Catalan in his childhood, and he successively or concurrently earned five degrees in his early adulthood: a B.A. in History from the University of California, Riverside, in 1967; a B.A. in Psychology from the California State University, San Bernardino, and an M.A. in Byzantine History from the University of California, Davis, in 1971; an M.A. in Psychology from Princeton University in 1974; and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Princeton University in 1975. From 1972 to 1975, he was a Preceptor in the Department of Psychology at Princeton University, and in 1975, he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside.

But in order to put his academic achievements at the disposal of the Orthodox Church, His Eminence sacrificed his personal career by becoming a monk in 1975, the year that he and the Most Reverend Dr. Bishop Auxentios of Etna and Portland together founded the Saint Gregory Palamas Monastery. His Eminence’s life of service as a clergyman began with his Ordination first to the Diaconate and then to the Priesthood in 1976. He was Consecrated to the Hierarchy in 1986, enthroned as Bishop of Etna in 1989, and elevated to the rank of Archbishop in 1995. His elevation to the rank of Metropolitan in 2014 would be followed a few months later that same year by his retirement from active Episcopal duties.

In all of his years as a Churchman, Metropolitan Chrysostomos remained involved in academia in one way or another. In 1979, His Eminence was appointed a Visiting Lecturer in Eastern Christian Thought at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio, and from 1980 to 1981, he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Ashland University, also in Ohio. While at Ashland University, he was awarded, in 1981, a Chairman’s Research Grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities. That same year, His Eminence and Bishop Auxentios established the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, the predecessor institution of the Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary. From 1981 to 1983, Metropolitan Chrysostomos was an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Ashland University, and in 1983, he earned the Licentiate in Theology from the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies. Also in 1983, he was a Visiting Scholar at the Divinity School of Harvard University. In 1985, His Eminence was appointed a Marsden Foundation Research Fellow and Visiting Scholar at Pembroke College, Oxford University, and in 1986, he became a Marsden Foundation Research Fellow at the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, which institution he would consecutively serve as Academic Director from that year to 1998, as Research Associate from 1998 to 2001, and as Senior Research Scholar from 2001 until his repose. In 1987, Metropolitan Chrysostomos was appointed a Visiting Lecturer in Patristics and the Psychology of Religion at the Theological Institute of Uppsala University in Sweden.

A new phase began in his academic activities when he became a Senior Fulbright Scholar in Romania, from 2000 to 2001. During this period, he was a Fulbright Lecturer in Byzantine History and Byzantine Theological Thought in the Faculty of History at the University of Bucharest, in 2000; a Fulbright Lecturer and Visiting Professor of Byzantine History in the Faculty of History, Business Ethics, and Consumer Behavior and the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Iași, in 2001; and a Fulbright Lecturer and Visiting Professor in the Theology of Orthodox Ecclesiastical Art and Architecture at the Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism in Bucharest, in 2001. Also in that year, he was the Facilitator of the Senior Staff Retreat for the United States Embassy in Bucharest, as well as a Consultant and Grantee for the Project on Media Ethics of the Office of International Information Programs of the United States Department of State. These activities were followed by his appointment as Executive Director of the United States Fulbright Commission in Bucharest, which position he held from 2002 to 2003. It was also during this period that he was a Guest Lecturer at the American Studies Center of the University of Bucharest. He was an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate Program in Church Architecture of the Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism from 2002 to 2005.

By Divine Providence, the funeral of Metropolitan Chrysostomos, who was buried as a simple monk at the Saint Gregory Palamas Monastery, fell on February 6 (Old Style), the Feast Day of the Patron Saint of the Seminary. This was especially appropriate, since it was His Eminence who had urged that the Seminary be named after Saint Photios the Great, the outstanding ninth-century Patriarch of Constantinople whose intellectual accomplishments and ecclesiastical leadership His Eminence so admired and himself emulated. Like Saint Photios, Metropolitan Chrysostomos was a voracious reader—from the age of twelve, when he began his heretofore private personal tally, until his death, His Eminence read over 4,900 books, an astonishing lifetime average of about seventy-seven books a year. Also like Saint Photios, who is famously credited with having invented the book review, Metropolitan Chrysostomos penned scores of book reviews, most of which were published in The Greek Orthodox Theological Review, The Patristic and Byzantine Review, and Orthodox Tradition. His personal book collection formed the nucleus of what would become the library of the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, which is housed at the Saint Gregory Palamas Monastery and which the faculty and students of the Seminary may access. This library was eventually named the “Metropolitan Cyprian Theological Library” in honor of Metropolitan Chrysostomos’s spiritual Father, the Most Reverend Metropolitan Cyprian I of Oropos and Phyle (1935–2013) of blessed memory. With all of this in mind, the Board of Directors of the Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary unanimously approved the proposal of Bishop Auxentios that the memory of Metropolitan Chrysostomos be honored in the same manner by naming the Seminary library the “Metropolitan Chrysostomos Theological Library.”

The erudition and the wisdom, the solicitude and the discipline, the charisma and the humor of Metropolitan Chrysostomos will be sorely missed. Eternal be his memory!

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Seminary Professor at Awards Ceremony in the Presidential Mansion in Athens, Greece

On Saturday, January 18, 2019, Professor Prokopios Pavlopoulos, President of the Hellenic Republic, presented Professor Gregory Nagy of Harvard University, Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature, the Hellenic Republic’s Order of Honor at ceremonies held at Athens in the Presidential Mansion. Pictured below, left to right, are Professor Nagy, President Pavlopoulos, and Professor John Petropoulos, Professor of Ancient Greek Literature at the Democritean University of Thrace and Adjunct Professor of Ancient and Modern Greek, Classical Philosophy, and Patristic Literature at the Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary in Etna, California. Dr. Petropoulos was an outstanding student of Dr. Nagy at Harvard, before going on to study with Sir Kenneth Dover at Oxford, and he was thus invited as a special guest to honor his former mentor.

In presenting the prestigious award to Professor Nagy, President Pavlopoulos praised the scholar’s acclaimed contributions to the study of Ancient Greek Literature, and especially the works of Homer, which, as the President noted, “places you among the top Homeric scholars worldwide.” Dr. Nagy thanked the President for the honor and promised to continue in his work to promote and safeguard the global heritage of Classical Greek civilization.


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