21 March 2013 • On–Campus
During the first week of Lent, The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, dean of St. Vladimir's, and Chancellor/CEO The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, hosted a distinguished campus visitor, His Grace Bishop Suriel  of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Melbourne and Affiliated Regions. In a productive meeting, the three explored possible collaboration between their respective institutions in both hemispheres. SVOTS alumnus Fr. Athanasius Farag of St. Antonious and St. Mina Coptic Church in East Rutherford, NJ, also joined the meeting.
"We had great discussions about cooperation with His Grace's theological school in Australia, St. Athanasius Coptic Orthodox Theological College  in Donvale, Victoria," explained Fr. John. "We also discussed our overarching vision for working together with the Coptic Church to help them further their goals in theological education."
"It was a very productive hour with His Grace Bishop Suriel," added Fr. Chad. "St. Vladimir's has long been recognized as the epicenter of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox dialogue, and our conversations this past week commit ourselves to renewing that essential work and witness."
Bishop Suriel is familiar with St. Vladimir's Seminary, since in his years of ministry in North America he studied towards a Masters degree on the Yonkers campus in the late 1990s. His Grace also served several times as a guest lecturer at the seminary's Eastern–Oriental Orthodox Symposium."It was indeed a great blessing to visit SVOTS again," His Grace reflected. "The meeting was truly fruitful and I pray that it strengthens our relationship further."
First–year Coptic student Mina Andrews noted Bishop Suriel's contribution to the Coptic Church. "He is a pioneer in the establishment of the first accredited Coptic Seminary in the diaspora. His Grace's vision has been very much influenced by the late Pope Shenouda III and His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, and his work is not only recognized in his diocese but in the church at large." An Australian who emigrated with his parents to Sydney as a preschooler, His Grace's enthronement as Bishop of Melbourne in December, 1999 enabled him to return to his roots to minister to the Australian Coptic community of his childhood.
Bavly Kost, another first–year Coptic student, also met with His Grace during his visit to St. Vladimir's. "Hosting Bishop Suriel last week was a great honor," he said. "The connection between the Coptic community and St. Vladimir's has been given life, and God willing, this collaboration will attract more Coptic students in the years to come."