SVOTS Chancellor’s Keynote Address at SYNDESMOS Youth Conference

September 2015

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Seminary Chancellor/CEO the Very Reverend Dr. Chad Hatfield recently delivered the keynote address at the international Orthodox youth festival  titled “Attaining Conciliarity,” hosted at the Monastery of the Annunciation’s Academy in Suprasl, Poland. Sponsored by SYNDESMOS—the World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth, and hosted by the Orthodox Church of Poland, the gathering marked the first time since 1998 that youth from the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) had participated in such an event.

Father Chad introduced his international audience to the OCA in his talk, “The Conciliar Model of the OCA: The Dream of Saint Tikhon.” The SVOTS Chancellor noted that “good connections were made with international youth, several of whom expressed an interest in attending St. Vladimir’s in the near future. I was impressed with the theological maturity of so many of the participants, and the expressions of gratitude for the leadership of [former St. Vladimir’s Dean] Protopresbyter John Meyendorff in the early years of SYNDESMOS.”

St. Vladimir’s was also represented at the gathering by the Very Reverend Vladimir Misijuk of Bialystok, Poland, an alumnus who spoke on “Attaining Conciliarity: The Task of our Daily Life.” Father Vladimir is a former SYNDESMOS General Secretary.

Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak, director of Admissions and a former SYNDESMOS employee, explained that SYNDESMOS and St. Vladimir’s have a long and storied relationship. In the 1980s and 1990s, SVOTS regularly sent representatives to international youth events such as the Consultation of Theological Schools. Former deans Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann and Protopresbyter John Meyendorff were instrumental in founding SYNDESMOS in the early 1950s.

“We hope that with Fr. Chad’s participation,” said Archdeacon Joseph,” the Seminary can assist in mapping out a future for the fellowship. SYNDESMOS represents both the OCA’s heritage and its potential; it is a venue and vehicle for sharing with this new generation, what we’ve received from our ‘giants of the past.'”

During the festival, participants also attended services for the Great Feast of the Dormition at the Monastery of the Nativity of the Mother of God in Zweirki, and celebrations marking the 35th anniversary of the Orthodox Youth Fellowship of Poland, presided over by His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw and His Eminence Archbishop Jacob of Bialystok. Pilgrimages were also made to the famed monastery at Grabarka, Saint Mary Magdalene Cathedral in Warsaw, and the Nativity of the Virgin Mary Monastery in Zwierki, where the relics of the Holy Child-Martyr Gabriel of Zabludow are enshrined.

“This trip showed me how Orthodox Christians from vastly different backgrounds—personally, nationally, from majority churches, from minority churches, and with widely differing opinions—can come together as the one Body of Christ, united by love in the Holy Spirit, strengthening the life of the whole Church,” commented OCA representative William Kopcha.

Other youth movements represented included: the Orthodoxer Jungenbund Deutschland from Germany, the Transfiguration Brotherhood and the Kazan Youth Organization from Russia, the Brotherhood of Orthodox Youth from Slovakia, Nepsis from Romania, and the French Orthodox youth organization, ACER-MJO.

(Adapted from the Oca.org report by Andrew Boyd)

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