8 September 2011 • Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos • Deborah (Malacky) Belonick
Following the Divine Liturgy in celebration of Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah, primate of the Orthodox Church in America and president of the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir's Seminary, was publicly honored by a committee of Orthodox Christians based in Russia. His Beatitude, who concelebrated the liturgy with visiting hierarchs His Eminence The Most Rev. Justinian, archbishop of Naro-Fominsk and administrator of the Patriarchal parishes in the U.S.A., and His Eminence The Most Rev. Kallistos, bishop of Diokleia, was presented the "Triumph of Orthodoxy" award in the seminary chapel, directly after the service.
The award was given by the "National Awards Committee," a group of Orthodox Christians blessed to do their work by the hierarchs of the Patriarchal Church in Russia. Valerii Sergeivich Balakirev, who represented the committee, bestowed a medal upon Metropolitan Jonah, "in recognition of His Beatitude's efforts in promoting unity and friendship among Orthodox Christians the world over."
"This is neither a church nor a government award," said Mr. Balakirev, "but rather an honor given by Orthodox Christians, as representing the hearts of the faithful, and therefore, knowing no bounds." His Beatitude Jonah responded to the reception of the award by saying he was "humbled" by the committee's decision.
Mr. Balakirev said the committee made its decision to choose Metropolitan Jonah as the award recipient on July 20th of this year. Patriarch Alexei II was the recipient of the first award given by the committee in 2002, for his role in resurrecting spiritual life in Russia. Patriarch Pavle of Serbia also received the award in 2003.
After the award ceremony, Metropolitan Jonah greeted the new and returning students, and admonished them to pay attention to their prayer life while enrolled at the seminary, stating "prayer will illumine your studies." Besides serving Divine Liturgy in the morning, His Beatitude met with the student body in the afternoon, in scheduled sessions.