Metropolitan Jonah greets Russian Church on the 200th anniversary of St. Petersburg Theological Academy

In a letter dated October 9, 209, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, sent a congratulatory letter to His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus’, on the occasion of the bicentennial of the Saint Petersburg Theological Academy.

“Three saints greatly venerated in both Russia and America were educated at the Saint Petersburg Theological Academy and spent their early years of service to the Church as missionaries in America,” Metropolitan Jonah wrote. “Saint Patriarch Tikhon, Enlightener of North America, led the American Church as its ruling archpastor from 1898-1907…. The Holy Hieromartyrs Alexander Hotovitzky, who served in America 1896-1914, and John Kochurov, who served in America 1895-1907, were among the leading clergy of the North American Diocese, founding numerous parishes and assisting the ruling bishops of North America in fulfilling the missionary vision…. Undoubtedly, the theological formation of the highest caliber that all of them received during their studies at the Saint Petersburg Academy shaped their fruitful Church ministry in America, Russia and elsewhere.

“We greatly rejoice that the life of the Russian Orthodox Church and its theological schools have been reinvigorated and expanded in countless ways since the fall of the communist regime,” Metropolitan Jonah continued, expressing his hope that cooperative efforts between the theological schools of the Orthodox Church in America and the Church of Russia “might increase for the benefit of both Churches and for the benefit of Orthodox witness.”

Concurrent celebrations include the 30th Anniversary of the Academy’s Choir Directors’ Training Program and the the 80th anniversary of the birth of His Eminence, the late Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad and Novgorod. In his letter of greeting, Metropolitan Jonah notes that Metropolitan Nikodim, “together with Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, Dean of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary in New York, overcame considerable obstacles to achieve agreement between our Churches that resulted in the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in America by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1970.”

The bicentennial of the Saint Petersburg Theological Academy is being celebrated from Friday, October 9 until Monday, October 12, 2009. Metropolitan Jonah’s message will be read by Dr. Peter Bouteneff, Associate Professor in Systematic Theology at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, who is representing the seminary at the celebration.

The full text of Metropolitan Jonah’s letter may be read here.