Fordham University announces creation of “Fr. John Meyendorff & Patterson Family Chair of Orthodox Christian Studies”

Fr Meyendorff

YONKERS, NY [SVOTS Communications] – 25/2/15

Fordham University, Bronx, NY, has announced the creation of the “Father John Meyendorff & Patterson Family Chair of Orthodox Christian Studies,” a professorship within the university’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center.

Solon and Marianna Patterson of Atlanta, GA, and their family endowed the chair with the intention of its being held by a recognized scholar of Orthodox Christian Studies, who also has a specialization in the relationship between Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions.

The inaugural chair holder will be installed in a special public ceremony the evening of Monday, October 5, 2015, at Fordham’s Rose Hill campus in the Bronx. The university will announce the appointment to the chair in the summer of 2015.

Fordham’s president, the Reverend Joseph M. McShane, S.J., remarked on the timely significance of the vision and purpose of the chair, saying, “We are deeply grateful to the Patterson family for making possible this addition to serious scholarship in Orthodox Studies at Fordham. John Meyendorff was the most significant English-speaking historian of Byzantine Christianity in the twentieth century, and a familiar presence at Rose Hill. We are therefore very pleased that his name, as well as that of the Patterson family, will forever be associated with Fordham.”

Appropriately, the new chair honors Protopresbyter John Meyendorff (1926–1992), who was both Professor of Byzantine History at Fordham and Professor of Church History and Patristics at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, as well as its Dean. Father Meyendorff’s scholarly works—particularly his writings on the Great Schism of 1054, the nature of authority in the Church, and the primacy of Peter—greatly contributed to official Orthodox-Catholic dialogues. Besides being a participant in many of those dialogues, Father Meyendorff acted as an astute observer and detailed chronicler of them, with an intensely personal interest in their continuation (e.g., his article, “Orthodox-Roman Catholic Dialogue Faces Snags,” St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Quarterly 30:4, 1986).

Reflecting upon the newly endowed chair, the Pattersons remarked, “We believe the endowment of this chair to be an integral part of our lifetime commitment to encourage and pursue reconciliation between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, and we are honored to name it after a priest and scholar who was equally committed to dialogue between these two great Christian bodies.”

Father Meyendorff was a member of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation from its inception in 1965. His son, Dr. Paul Meyendorff, the Father Alexander Schmemann Professor of Liturgical Theology at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, continues his legacy by actively participating in that body. As well, Professor Meyendorff is a member of the international Saint Irenaeus Orthodox-Catholic Working Group, an informal group of Catholic and Orthodox theologians that has been meeting annually since 2004.

The mission of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center is to foster intellectual inquiry by supporting scholarship and teaching that is critical to the ecclesial community, public discourse, and the promotion of Christian unity. The Center was co-founded in 2012 by Fordham professors George E. Demacopoulos and Aristotle Papanikolaou. Dr. Papanikolaou, who holds the Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture, also studied with Father Meyendorff.

Remembering Father Meyendorff’s instruction and sensitivity to Orthodox-Catholic relations, Dr. Papanikolaou, said, “I had the privilege of taking one of Father Meyendorff’s classes at Fordham and having him as my advisor to my Honors Thesis. This chair will always remind us of his invaluable role in the story of Orthodoxy at Fordham.”

Dr. Demacopoulos, noting the benefit of the new chair to the Orthodox Christian Studies Center, concluded, “Father Meyendorff’s combination of scholarly achievement and constructive friendship with the Jesuit community laid the foundation for the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham, and we are delighted to be able to honor him in this way.”

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