September 8, 2012 + On-Campus Event
In his first visit to campus as a hierarch, His Grace The Right Rev. John Abdalah , auxiliary bishop for the Antiochian Archdiocese's Diocese of Worcester and New England, presided over the liturgy for the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos at Three Hierarchs Chapel on campus.
Bishop John received his Master of Divinity degree with the Class of 1984. For 33 years, he served as a priest of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, before being consecrated as Auxiliary of the Diocese of Worcester and New England on December 11, 2011. He also holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in Pastoral Care from Pittsburgh Theological School, a Master's equivalency certificate in Pastoral Counseling from Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts.
As a late summer storm blew through the Westchester County campus, bringing wind and rain that relentlessly pounded the chapel, His Grace calmly and joyfully served alongside other Antiochian and seminary clergy. Afterwards, he joined the community for brunch and then held a special meeting for the Antiochian seminarians and their families.
"We gather today for the first major feast of the New Year and we celebrate a brand new beginning, a new opportunity for saying 'yes' to God," began Bishop John in his homily. "These have been emotional days for me; thirty-eight years ago, I was a new student on campus, away from home for the first time. I can't help but think of those who have gone on to their rest who were once here, and yet God has raised up new people, new faculty and students."
Bishop John encouraged his audience. "People are looking to understand what the Church is about. We should not be ashamed to offer people chances to give, because in giving and loving, we are being like God."
Touching on a topic on the minds of many gathered for the feast, he also noted, "We mourn the loss of Ann Zinzel . I remember how she sat at the end of Fr. Schmemann's desk as he dictated his books to her. She wrote them all out in shorthand and then typed them up! She knew everything about every student and was loyal to all the faculty and students. We ask God to give His reward to His faithful servant."
Concluded Bishop John, "Every day, I use what I learned here. I learned most of all, that we need to take care of each other, we need to hold each other up as the world works against us."
Chancellor/CEO The Rt. Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield greeted Bishop John, noting that it was a joy to have him at the seminary for the first feast of the new liturgical year, and that the community anticipated his return visit for the Feast of the Three Hierarchs in January 2013. Fr. Chad concluded by presenting two seminarians with the 2012 St. Basil the Great Award for Academic Achievement.