Special speakers continue relationship between seminaries - 04/26/12

On Thursday and Friday, April 26-27, the students and faculty of St. Herman Seminary took time off of classes to participate in seminars held by visitors from St. Vladimir's Seminary. As has been his habit for the past few years, Fr. Chad Hatfield, chancellor of St. Vladimir's and former dean of St. Herman's, brought special speakers to supplement our normal curriculum. In his own presentation, our seminarians considered with him an often-neglected element of pastoral formation, that of pastoral character. The associate dean for student affairs at St. Vladimir's, Fr. David Mezynski, presented a session on desert spirituality, focusing on the background and role of asceticism in the Christian life, giving counsel from the letters of St. Barsanuphius. Also speaking was Ian Jones, a 2009 graduate of St. Vladimir's who currently is pursuing doctoral studies at Fordham University. His presentation of "Animals and Orthodox Theology" was of particular interest, given the Native Alaskan hunting ethic and traditional interaction with the created world. The class considered the words of St. Basil the Great and St. Isaac the Syrian as well as the example of such saints as St. Seraphim of Sarov and our own St. Herman of Alaska, whose restoration of the human image through Christ drew wild animals to them as was true of Adam in Paradise.

In addition to speaking to the seminarians, Fr. Chad met with the seminary wives over "tundra tea" and led their retreat to the women's monastery on nearby St. Nilus Island. Our guests joined in our prayer of the Akaathist to St. Herman with the Kodiak community before venerating the Saint's relics, with Fr. David providing a reflection after the prayers.

This ministry organized by Fr. Chad is the result of an endowment generously established by a supporter of St. Vladimir's Seminary and provides an opportunity to continue to ongoing and growing relationship between our two seminaries.