Inaugural holder of Fordham’s Meyendorff-Patterson Chair of Orthodox Christian Studies installed

October 2015

His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon of the Orthodox Church in America delivered the opening and closing benedictions respectively at ceremonies marking the installation of Dr. George E. Demacopoulos as the inaugural holder of Fordham University’s Father John Meyendorff and Patterson Family Chair of Orthodox Christian Studies on Monday, October 15, 2015.  The newly established professorship is associated with Fordham’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 specializes in the relationship between Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions.  As such, the Chair honors Protopresbyter John Meyendorff [1926–1992], who was Professor of Byzantine History at Fordham and Professor of Church History and Patristics at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY, as well as the latter’s Dean.  Father John’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 John acted as an astute observer and detailed chronicler of such gatherings and had an intensely personal interest in their continuation.

“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,” said the Pattersons.  “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 father’s legacy by actively participating in that body.

After the ceremony, Dr. Demacopoulos’ delivered his inaugural lecture, “War, Violence and the Feast of the Holy Cross in Byzantium,” in which he analyzed 7th and 8th century Orthodox hymnography for the Great Feast of the Elevation of the Cross, which at that time began to reflect imperial and military themes in an era of conflict between the Greeks and the Persians.  The Octet of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary offered a brief concert of hymns reflecting the lecture theme.

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 Dr. Demacopoulos and Dr. Aristotle Papanikolaou, who holds the Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture at Fordham.

The Reverend Joseph McShane, SJ, Fordham University President, introduced the many guests in attendance, including Archpriests John Jillions and Eric G. Tosi, OCA Chancellor and Secretary respectively, and extended an invitation to Metropolitan Tikhon to return to the campus in the future in the interest of developing a closer relationship.

Closing Benediction Offered by Metropolitan Tikhon

The Installation of Dr. George E. Demacopoulos as the Inaugural Holder of the Father John Meyendorff and Patterson Family Chair of Orthodox Christian Studies at Fordham University

Monday, October 5, 2015

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Lord, we are Christians living in a world that too often still uses religion as a cover for violence. We thank Thee for the witness of George Demacopoulos and scholars like him who unwrap the difficult history of the past to shed light on our present challenges. Bless him in his work and life ahead.

We thank Thee for the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham; its staff, students, benefactors and supporters; and especially Solon and Marianna Patterson and their family. Bless them and all who believe in working actively for better understanding and closer relationships between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

We thank Thee for the teaching, writing and witness of Father John Meyendorff, who devoted a lifetime to Christian scholarship in service of the Church, to Orthodox unity in this country and to building bridges with Catholics, Protestants and the Ecumenical Movement. We thank Thee for Fordham University and Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, for whom Father John was a beloved teacher and a figure of unity. Bless Father John’s wife, Matushka Marie, and bless their family.  And may his memory be eternal!

At the 9/11 Memorial a few days ago, in his gathering with religious leaders, Pope Francis said, “I trust that our presence together will be a powerful sign of our shared desire to be a force for reconciliation, peace and justice in this community and throughout the world. For all our differences and disagreements, we can live in a world of peace.”

Lord, bless everyone gathered here, and give us the courage to be witnesses and instruments of Thy peace, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

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