Rt. Rev. Fr.
V. Rev. Fr.
Rt. Rev. Fr. Dr.
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On Sunday. September 15, 2019, at 2:00 pm over 70 guests gathered
at St. Andrew's College for the Inauguration and Awards Ceremony.
The event began with the traditional Academic Processional
Entrance of the Members of the Platform Party led by the Order of
St. Andrew Honour Guard with ceremonial banners. The Master of
Ceremonies, V. Rev. Fr. Roman Bozyk, Dean of Theology and Acting
Principal of St.Andrew's College, welcomed everyone in attendance
and introduced the members of the Platform Party.
The Inaugural Address "The Orthodox Church and Ecological Issues" was delivered by V. Rev. Fr. Roman Bozyk who particitated in the Halki III Summit convened by His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew in June 2019 in Istanbul.
The program included the presentation of Scholarship and Bursary Awards to deserving students of the Faculty of Theology, St. Andrew's College Member Students, College Residence students, and to students of the Centre for Ukrainian Canadian Studies. These awards are made possible thanks to the many generous donors who recognize the importance of encouraging and rewarding academic endeavours.
The program concluded with the Ceremonial Recessional and was followed by a delightful reception during which the students and guests had the opportunity to visit and pose for photographs which will become part of their fond College memories.
Inauguration Address of
DEAN AND ACTING PRINCIPAL
With the Blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan YURIJ and at the
invitation of His All-Holiness Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW of
Constantinople, I was able to attend a 4-day conference – Halki
Summit III held in Istanbul, Turkey at the end of May, the
beginning of June of this year. This was the third summit that was
held by the Ecumenical Patriarch on the Environment and care for
God’s Creation. This year not only were experts in Orthodoxy and
Ecology invited, but also Deans of Theology of Orthodox seminaries
and other educational institutions. The Patriarch brought Deans to
this meeting to emphasise to them how changes and improvements to
our care of God’s Creation must start at the level of Seminary
Education. The future clergy of the Church should not be
by-standers in the climate change talks but supporters and even
instigators of positive change and continued care for the world.
The world is one of the gifts God has given us and thus for which
we will have to answer at the Second Coming of Our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ. The importance of taking care of the world’s
environment should be taught in seminary classes, and preached in
Actually, I am not the first to speak at a St. Andrew’s College Convocation or Inauguration on this topic. His All-Holiness Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW honoured St. Andrew’s College by accepting an honourary Doctorate from the College and at the special Convocation in this auditorium in 1998 spoke on climate issues and our need to protect the world in which we live. Care for the environment as a Christian virtue has been a long time priority of His All-Holiness.
Whenever an Orthodox Christian begins to speak about the ecological crisis, he/she must begin with the blessing given to humanity to care for the world that the Lord has created. We human beings are the apex of creation created in the “image and likeness” of God (Gen 1:26) and we are given the responsibility for the rest of Creation “and let them (ie.us) have dominion over all the earth” (Gen 1:26). This dominion that we have over the world cannot be interpreted as wanton dominance for uncontrolled exploitation of resources that has been the practice so often by governments (either left or right) or by companies looking first of all for profits. As early as 1967, the Journal Science printed an article by a Dr. L. White accusing the Christian Church of destroying the environment and the world itself by her encouragement of uncontrolled exploitation of resources. I believe it was not the Church that was responsible, but those, over the centuries, that ignored or contradicted the necessary care for creation that faith in God-the-Creator demands of all His children.
The care, control or dominion spoken of at the beginning of Genesis is not exploitation and use, so much as it is an obligation to take care of the gift given to us by God. We are the tenants mentioned by Christ who are to give a report about what we have done with the vineyard entrusted to us. What will be our answer?
Dominion implies a responsibility as caretakers of God’s Creation not licence to do as we wish. Dominion over creation (Genesis 1:26) was a loving care and stewardship of the world – which belongs to God. This loving care was lost or corrupted by the Fall of Humanity after the sin of Adam and Eve. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ renews the world by entering and blessing the world at His Baptism and by His Holy Resurrection which grants us forgiveness and eternal life and as such brings peace and reconciliation again to the entire Creation. Now we, as followers of Christ, must forsake wanton exploitation and return to the loving care of the world as stewards who will be called to give a report. We speak often of God’s gifts of speech, life, intelligence etc. and for each of these we will render God a report - and so, too, should we see our care and dominion over the world as something we do piously so as to have a good answer as stewards at the coming judgement.
This beautiful planet has been lent to each person in the world to take care of and protect as were the “talents” in the well-known parable of Christ.
When I was at this Halki Summit, I thought about how Orthodox Seminaries can help to prepare better stewards of his Creation. I began to think that theologically we do mention such issues in the Scripture courses, the Ethics courses and in practical terms. Thanks to the Board and Administration of St. Andrew’s College and even moreso to the initiatives of our caterers, we are leaders on campus in recycling/composting and the like. Nonetheless, God has a way of keeping us humble – as I was reminded of the image shown at the beginning of June around the world (and on Turkish T.V.) of Canadian garbage sitting in the hot Philippine sun.
We can always do better and His All-Holiness the Green Patriarch invited Deans to the Halki Summit to impress upon all of us, the urgency of good theological education on the theme of the universal and important blessing given to us to care for the world that God has created.
Fr. Dr. Roman Bozyk