JORDANVILLE, NY: June 8, 2018
Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary Celebrates the 2018 Commencement

On June 3, 2018, the Sunday of All Saints, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary celebrated the graduation of the Class of 2018. The graduating class included six seminarians who received the degree of Bachelor of Theology and two recipients of the Certificate of Theological Studies:

Bachelor of Theology

Reader Seth Davidenko, magna cum laude and valedictorian

Reader George Luimes, cum laude and award for academic excellence

Reader Christian Watts, cum laude and award for academic excellence

Reader Michael Martinov

Reader Joseph Nguyentan, award for academic diligence

Reader Johan Sanjaya


Rev. Hierodeacon Sergiy Gusakov

Rev. Deacon Kostyantin Yastreb

The following underclassmen also received awards:

Lazarus Sparandera, First Year, award for academic excellence

Ivan Gryaznov, First Year, award for academic excellence

James Racz, Second Year, award for academic diligence

The 2018 Commencement began with the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning, celebrated by His Grace Bishop Jerome (Shaw). After the thanksgiving Moleben at Holy Trinity Cathedral at 2 p.m. and the formal procession to the Seminary Hall, the Very Rev. Archimandrite Luke (Murianka), Rector of the Seminary, opened the Commencement Exercises.

Our Seminary Dean, Very Rev. Archpriest Alexander Webster, Ph.D., in full academic regalia, welcomed the gathering, focusing on the 70th Anniversary of the founding of HTOS and how far we have come since 1948. The most exciting advancement is the new Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree program that begins in Fall 2018 and may almost double the number of HTOS seminarians on campus.

The Commencement speaker, Rev. Patrick Viscuso, Ph.D., a distinguished Greek Orthodox specialist in canon law and historical theology whom Fr. Alexander introduced as a longtime friend and colleague, reflected on the relation between his time in seminary and career as a priest. Through those many years of experience, he has become increasingly aware that a priest's actions may have lasting negative or positive consequences. Fr. Patrick cautioned, therefore, that priests must be constantly focused, vigilant, and compassionate. Since the devil is working to promote negligence, the priest can only counter those attacks with prayerful zeal.

Following the Commencement address, the valedictorian, Reader Seth Davidenko, spoke on behalf of the graduating class in both English and Russian, fondly recalling the warmth of brotherly love and harmony that developed among them.

At this Commencement the ROCOR hierarchy and the HTOS administration and faculty celebrated the retirement of Very Rev. Archpriest Gregory Naumenko from his academic post as Lecturer in Pastoral Theology in two memorable ways: a gramota from the Holy Synod of Bishops and a decision by the administration and faculty to confer upon Fr. Gregory the honorary title of Lecturer Emeritus for his 35 years of dedicated teaching of our seminarians.

We also bade farewell to Very Rev. Archpriest Peter Heers, Assistant Professor of Holy Scripture (and his Presvytera Kyriake and their five children), who, after the last three semesters here at HTOS, is relocating to Arizona to serve as principal of a new K-12 parochial school near St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery.

His Grace Bishop Jerome then read the greeting of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, to the Class of 2018. The Metropolitan congratulated the graduating class and noted the unique place of Holy Trinity Seminary and its spiritual connection with Holy Trinity Monastery, the "fortress of spirituality" of the Russian Church Abroad. In his own brief remarks, Bishop Jerome reminded everyone that a priest requires the assistance of his people to be successful. As the neck and body support the head, so the laity form the foundation to support the priest.

The Very Rev. Archimandrite Luke, Rector of the Seminary, closed the Commencement with a few remarks. He suggested, wryly, that the Pharisees had their "terminal degrees in biblical studies.” Academic work, though important, should not be cultivated apart from spiritual formation. Fr. Luke reminded everyone of the ancient Platonic triad—truth, goodness, and beauty—that was “baptized” in the New Testament and by the Church Fathers: "who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom" (James 3:13)

The Board of Trustees, the administration, and the faculty of Holy Trinity Seminary thank all those whose financial contributions enable our Seminary to grow and warmly congratulate the parents and grandparents of the graduating seniors and, above all, the HTOS Class of 2018, wishing them the grace of God the Holy Trinity and the intercession of His saints for their future ecclesiastical ministries. Many Years!


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