In yet another display of academic excellence and theological dialogue within the sphere of ecumenism, the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of SS. Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh, Pa. hosted a most successful liturgy symposium on its campus May 21 to 23.
The three-day event was generously sponsored by anonymous donors and brought together liturgical scholars from around the United States and the world to present their papers on a variety of related subjects that addressed the conference theme “East, West & Beyond: Enriching One Another’s Liturgical Traditions.”
Concentrating on both academic and pastoral theology, with a particular focus on the cross-pollination of different liturgical and sacramental traditions, the overall goal of the symposium was to highlight cases of liturgical synthesis in the liturgical rites and theology of the East, whether influenced by Western or fellow Eastern churches.
The program was structured in such a way as to include speakers in three categories: three keynote addresses, four plenary sessions, and an array of student presentations. The attendees came from as close as Pittsburgh to as far away as Patras, Greece.
Each full day of lectures began with morning prayer and concluded with evensong, represented by the various Christian traditions. The delectable meals, the evening wine and cheese socials, the rare book room tour, the hospitable amenities, and the genuine family-like fellowship were quite unsurpassed, as noted by all those who attended the conference.
The event was also blessed with the attendance of Metropolitan Archbishop William Skurla and seminary rector Father Robert Pipta, both of whom expressed their full support of the program. Lastly, we would be greatly remiss by not acknowledging the stalwart volunteer efforts of Stephen and Carol Kappes, who truly made the event a huge success.
As an incentive to encourage graduate students in advanced masters or doctoral programs to attend the symposium and
present their research, a prize in the amount of $250 was awarded to the student paper that stood out. This year’s recipient was Adam Kemner (Ruthenian Eparchy of Parma), a doctoral student at Euclid University, who gave a riveting PowerPoint presentation and spoke on “Western Influences in Carpathian Church Architecture: Some Observations.” BCS seminarian Deacon Paul West (Eparchy of Passaic) also gave an excellent musicological study.
The keynote addresses were delivered by Dr. John Demetracopoulos of the University of Patras, Greece, who spoke on “Scholastic Influences on Late Byzantine Discussions on the Eucharist”; the Rev. Dr. Stephen Hawkes-Teeples from St. Louis, MO, whose topic was “The Ukrainian Byzantine Lutheran Church and Its Liturgy”; and the Rev. Dr. Stelyios Muksuris, Professor of Liturgical Theology and Languages at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary, whose title was “Time for a New Eucharistic Prayer?
Revisiting the ‘Imbalance’ Between Liturgical Thanksgiving and Supplication: An Analysis of the Basilian Recensions (Byz-BAS, syr-BAS, E-BAS) and syr AP-AN.” The plenary sessions included: 1) the Rev. Dr. Christiaan Kappes of BCS, “Latin Sources and Origin of the Byzantine Office for St. Sylvester, Pope of Rome”; 2) Dr. Matthew Minerd of BCS, “Sacramental Being, Practical Signification, and Sacramental Causality: A Synthetic Overview”; 3) Kyle Washut, Ph.D. candidate and full-time professor at Wyoming Catholic College (via Skype), “Liturgical Purity in East and West”; and 4) Dr. Teva Regule of Boston College, “The Liturgical Movement of the Twentieth Century and the Liturgical Reform Efforts of New Skete Monastery: The Liturgy of the Hours.” Following all three categories of sessions, engaging questions and answers followed.
The co-organizers for this auspicious scholarly synaxis, namely the Rev. Dr. Christiaan Kappes, Dr. Matthew Minerd, and the Rev. Dr. Stelyios Muksuris, met diligently for the past year to organize the event. With an affinity for the minutest of details, the organizing committee covered every base possible, utilizing social media and various other channels to promote the significance of this event for Academia and the Church.
In order to honor the significant research and contribution of the scholars who attended this prestigious symposium, it is the ardent intent of the organizing committee to publish the Acta of each speaker in a special tome or academic journal. Two possible venues are Liturgical Press or the Catholic University of America. In closing, the committee intends to make such a symposium a biennial event and will be meeting in the near future to begin preliminary plans for the next such gathering in 2021. The first conference held at BCS took place in May of 2017, with the theme: “Byzantine Perspectives on the Theotokos.”