BOSTON – Archbishop Elpidophoros of America presided over the beginning of the new academic year at Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology on the Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Holy Cross, when the School celebrates its name day. The courses this fall semester will be taught virtually due to the pandemic, with the hope that students will be able to return on campus for the spring semester.
On Sunday evening, September 13, the Archbishop officiated at the Great Vespers at Holy Cross Chapel. Present were Metropolitans Methodios of Boston and Elias of Filomilion from the Albanian Orthodox of America, which is under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and Bishop Joachim of Amissos, the new auxiliary Bishop of Archbishop Elpidophoros and Director of the Archbishop Iakovos Library and Learning Center at the Theological School, and priests and deacons led by Archimandrite Athenagoras Ziliaskopoulos, chaplain of the School. Present also were some married students of the School who live on campus at the dormitories for married students, president George Cantonis, and some faithful from the Boston area because the attendance was by invitation only due to the pandemic restrictions. At the end of Vespers the Archbishop officiated for the Services of Rasoforia and Stavroforia and the reading of special prayers.
From the Service of Stavroforia at the end of the Vespers. (Photo by GOA/DIMITRIOS PANAGOS)
The Archbishop based his homily on the hymn “Come, all ye nations, let us worship the blessed Tree …By the Blood of God the venom of the serpent is washed away.” He said, among other things: “Once again we commence the year of study and fellowship, of learning and teaching, at our premier Institution of Orthodox scholarship and education, with the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. There could be no better inaugural celebration for a seminary and a college where the Gospel reigns.”
He also said that “this theological school and college, situated upon this hill overlooking land and sea, is a called to be a City of Orthodox Mind and Heart – Νους και Καρδία – which cannot be hidden. You are called to be the lamp upon the lampstand, spreading light to all people. Thus the hymns of the Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Holy, Precious, and Life-giving Cross call out to all people – άπαντα τα έθνη, to bow down in reverence and worship before the Tree of the Cross.”
On the Feast Day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross the Archbishop officiated at the Divine Liturgy, having as concelebrants Metropolitan Elias of Filomilion and Bishop Joachim of Amissos, while Bishop Ioannis of the New England Antiochian Diocese joined in prayer.
The Service of Rasoforia. (Photo by GOA/DIMITRIOS PANAGOS)
Addressing the few students who were present and those who were following the Liturgy via live connection on the Internet, Archbishop Elpidophoros said: “My Beloved Community of Holy Cross and Hellenic College: ‘While you have the light, trust in the light, that you may become children of light.’ Here at our Seminary and College, on this ‘holy hill’ where you have been established by God’s own Right Hand – this is the place where you are called to “become children of light. Therefore, everything that you study, everything that you teach, everything that you learn, has a single purpose and dedicated mission. For you to be illumined with the Light of Christ, the very Energy of God. It is too often easy to settle for minds that are filled with our own ideas of light; whether it is a feeling of intellectual superiority or a sense of our own spiritual experience – mistaken self-concepts of spiritual maturity. Saint Paul certainly knew how easily one could be puffed up with a sense of one’s abilities and knowledge.”