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Pappas Patristic Institute Hosts Summer Patristic Studies Program
The Pappas Patristic Institute of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology hosted its ninth annual Summer Patristic Studies Program on July 19-24. This annual one-week academy is a unique opportunity to study and discuss classic texts of the Church through small-group study. The program attracted faculty, doctoral students, seminarians, clergy, and lay people from throughout the U.S. and Canada from diverse religious backgrounds with an interest in experiencing the writings of the Church Fathers. Participants, whose number increased by 50% from the previous year, chose two from among eight courses to take during the five-day program. One student commented that the program is a "reminder that academic work can serve the Church."
When asked what they liked most about the week, one student said the "hospitality" and "generous attitudes," the "focus on the patristic texts," and the "conversational style of the faculty." Another student, who is in the MDiv program at Princeton Theological Seminary, said that what she liked most was "the rhythm of study, worship (Orthros and Vespers), and fellowship. I loved the studying of the texts, but having people to discuss the texts with made them come alive even more, so it all wove together beautifully."
The students who come to the Summer Patristic Studies Program are from different backgrounds and vocations. We welcome graduate students, clergy, and lay people, from all faith backgrounds, including Orthodox Christian, Roman Catholic, and Protestant denominations. One of our MDiv students from Holy Cross expressed that he valued the diversity of the community; he said he appreciated "the high level interfaith dialogue and perspectives."
The Summer Patristic Studies Program offers a rare, if not unique, educational experience. The heart of the program is the reading and discussing of patristic texts in groups of 7-10 persons. These small groups invite everyone to discuss the texts they are reading aloud in their groups, so that everyone leaves with the experience of having encountered the texts (and the persons who wrote them), and not just having talked about these writings and people from a distance. Zachary Kostopoulos, a doctoral student at Saint Louis University and alumnus of HCHC, summed it up well, saying "the fellowship among the students was memorable.... The greatest benefit comes from reinforcing the skill of reading a text closely and critically." The program assisted 14 doctoral students to come, employing them as teaching fellows to facilitate the group study sessions. One of our doctoral students from Marquette University wrote that her experience during the week was one of "renewal." "A love for the material was rekindled because this is not intended to be a purely academic study."
Dr. Bruce Beck, the Director of the Pappas Patristic Institute (and Assistant Professor of New Testament at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology), commented on the week saying, "Now in its ninth year, the Patristic Institute's Summer Program offers an experience that is difficult to put into words. We offer hospitality on our beautiful campus and a rich array of courses for people who want to experience the wisdom of the patristic writings in a communal and convivial setting. The program is validated by the responses of those who attend it. Now, it seems that we are attracting more clergy and lay people to participate in the program, which has been the long-term vision for this summer academy."
Next year, the Pappas Patristic Institute will offer its Summer Program in Patristic Studies again from July 17-22, 2016.