Today would be the fullest day of our journey, especially for Fr. John and Fr. Steven. All three members of the delegation participated in a meeting with gathered Kottayam Seminary faculty. As Fr. Steven and Fr. John would later reflect on together, both OCA deans were similarly consulting with the seminary faculty in terms of measuring the effectiveness of their current program. The faculty continued to highly value the contributions of Metropolitan Paulose Mar Gregorios. They were encouraged to draw from this example, and to continue his example in making their curriculum relevant to the changing cultural dynamics. It was quite moving to particpate in consulting in this way, with both OCA schools being witnessed as working together. Metropolitan Nicholovos also participated in the faculty meeting. Fr. Steven presented an icon and Tikhonaire to Fr. Dr. O. Thomas, principal of Kottayam Seminary, whose field is also pastoral theology!
It was the next series of events that became most meaningful for Fr. Steven. Seminarians had researched the backgrounds of both Fr. Steven and Fr. John, and then proceeded to interview each on the basis of their research. While Fr. John was being interviewed, Fr. Steven was given a brief tour of the museum. As Fr. Steven sat down for his interview, he queried the seminarians, and at the end offered them encouragement on their very creative plan!
In the afternoon was a Seminar on Theological Anthropology. Fr. Steven was asked to present from the perspective of pastoral theology, so his presentation topic was: The Practice of Virtue in our Technological Age. It was thought that the seminar would include a new edition of Metropolitan Gregorios' Cosmic Man. With this being the case he wove some of the Metropolitan's work into the presentation, as well as encouragement of seminarians attending the seminar to draw from St. Gregory of Nyssa's engagement of contemporary thinkers and writers in order to similarly engage contemporary thinkers and writers in our age. Fr. Dr. Bijesh Philip was the moderator, and besides Fr. John Behr's presentation, Rev. Dr. K.M. George gave a presentation.
In the evening, the Catholicos received our delegation with others at the Chapel of the Headquarters for the Malankara Church. First we prayed in the church, then we visited a reliquary of St. Thomas in a room with many portraits of church leaders. The banner for the church, seen in several places, quoted St. Thomas' words: "My Lord and My God."
At the official recpetion gifts were exchanged, with our Metropolitan giving both a wooden panagia and a pocket watch to the Catholicos, and receiving him, among other gifts, the very cross he had been given to bless the gathered students at the seminary the day before! Fr. John and Fr. Steven were also given gifts. Metropolitan Tikhon then offered a brief address and turned on a video presentation of the new Malankara Church's website. Click here to view the website. After the official reception, the Catholicos invited all those gathered to dinner together. As it was Thanksgiving, the delegation was asked to share about this celebration in America.
What a very full day!