His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros
Great Vespers & Bestowal of Alumni Crosses
May 18, 2022
Hellenic College Holy Cross
Beloved Community of Hellenic College and Holy Cross,
Christ is Risen!
This evening we have gathered to recognize our Alumni, with the bestowal of special crosses for the occasion. I would note that this Vespers coincides with the feast of the Holy Hieromartyr Patrick, Bishop of Prousa. This was the See to which I was elected many years ago, and in which I labored on behalf of the small but vibrant Greek Orthodox Community there, before coming to America as your Archbishop.
I find this synchronicity to be auspicious, because Saint Patrick of Prousa gave a good confession of faith before the world. And this is what we are called to do, especially as alumni of our Σχολή. The Saintly Bishop was called before an adversary willing to kill him, and so he was martyred, along with three companions.
We have not yet been called to give our witness in such a dangerous moment, but when we see our Ukrainian sisters and brothers being murdered by their spiritual cousins, we have to wonder if we would be so bold as to stand for Christ, when others fall down before the powers of this age.
There is a reason why our School invokes the Holy Cross of our Lord at every turn. It is because we must be ready at any time, “in season and out of season,” to give a good accounting for our faith in Him.
The time that is spent here on this Hill of hope – either in the College or the Theological School – or both! – is time spent in preparation. It is time spent in readying one’s soul, mind, and heart to carry the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. But our learning experience does not end here.
You may know that the word “alumnus,” actually means “pupil,” coming from the Latin verb, alere, “to suckle or nourish.”
In Greek, we say ὁμογάλακτοι for alumni, which literally means those suckled at the same breast and fed with the same milk.
In both languages, the concept of nourishment and cultivation from a source is understood, what we call the Alma Mater, the “Nursing Mother.”
Which means, that to be an alumnus or an alumna of this Σχολή, is to be someone who continues to learn, to inquire, to evolve. As education is a lifelong endeavor, alumni are those who continue to apply themselves to be true μαθητές, and strive to bring the Gospel to life in the world. And like the Hieromartyr Patrick, some may even bring the Message – the logos of life, by the offering of their own death.
That is why our sign of victory is the Cross, for as the Hymn says: for “having endured the Cross for us, He destroyed death by death,” Σταυρὸν γὰρ ὑπομείνας δι' ἡμᾶς, θανάτῳ θάνατον ὤλεσεν.
We all can share in this destruction of death by death, if we are willing to carry our own crosses and follow the Master.
Therefore, in receiving these crosses this evening, I pray that each of you, the alumni of our precious School, will embrace the ongoing apostolate to be true to the Gospel.
Always give a good and faithful witness to Christ.
Stay connected to this School – your “Alma Mater,” – your Nourishing Mother who will continue to feed you with spiritual meaning.
And just as children care for their aging parents, take time to care for this School – She is now at Her eightieth commencement! Let us never forget to good unto Her.
Through the prayers of Saint Patrick the Hieromartyr, Bishop of Prousa, may we ever remain Her faithful children.
Christ is Risen!