Establishing of the Faculty of divinity was taken by our believers as a special gift of God's mercy. The way to its creation was not easy. Since the abolishion of the school of divinity of the saint brethren Cyril and Methodius many centuries of persecution of the Orthodox Church passed on the territory of Bohemia and Slovakia. Creation of the Czechoslovak republic in 1918 evoked hopes in the hearts of the Orthodox believers for the restoration of the Orthodox Church in our countries and for the restoration of theological college.
In 1945, when the restoration of Orthodox religious life in our country started, favorable conditions appeared also for the recreation of theological college. In 1948 the Seminary of Divinity was established in Karlovy Vary which was moved to Prague the following year. Young people from both Czech and Slovakia studied there.
When in 1950 the Faculty of Orthodox Theology was created, it was situated in Presov where it has been creatively developing its activities to the present moment.
From the beginning theological studies have been running at six departments: the Department of Biblical Studies, of Systematic Theology, of Basic Theology, of Philosophy, of Practical Theology, of the History of the Church, of the Church Law. Graduates of the Faculty acquire M.A. degree and in case of further studies either here or abroad they may achieve the academic degree of Doctor of Theology. Up to present the Faculty has prepared more than 400 graduates for devoted life and work, many of them became priests (almost 80%), teachers, responsible workers in the Church, and prominent authorities of the Church (hierarchs).
In 1990 the Faculty has become a part of the Safarik University, and the membership in the union requires permanent growth of both professional and spiritual standard. On the basis of the present structure of education, which derives from the needs of the Church and society and from the character of the Law on universities, the Faculty accepts both men and women for active service in the Church and outside of it. It educates future priests, teachers, administrative workers, teachers of religion at primary, possibly also secondary schools. In the case that our plans come true, we could also educate specialists for the sphere of culture, iconographs, missionaries, and monks.
Icon of the Savior.
The Faculty has been developing its activities in academic, practical, and spiritual spheres. It tries to keep the right balance between them, and to create realistic perspectives. The responsible statutory bodies especially the Academic Senate and the Dean's office try hard to lead the whole community of the Faculty according to the principles of brotherly life in the spirit of the Gospels, of understanding, creativity, loyalty, simply according to the traditional principles of communionship (sobornosu) on which, from the apostolic times, the Church of Khristos itself is built. Dealing with any possible problem, a correct and the Gospel supported solution must always be found, not a compromise but a true Christian consensus.
What is the character of education at the Faculty?
The Faculty offers to students theological education in classical study areas: the Biblical studies, liturgy, the history of the Church, pastoric studies, dogmatics, spirituality and morals, canonic law, homiletics, studies of languages, of church music and art, etc. However, the content and the methods of studies are being constantly renewed and developed, the curriculum and study plans are being revised with regard to the current needs of the Church and society; the organization of work is being improved as well as its professional standard. Despite the changes, both the content of faith and the aims leading to fulfillment of the God's redemptory act remain unchanged.
The iconostas inside
of Seminary's tserkva.
At present the stress is laid on the work of teachers who are expected to improve constantly their pedagogic and scholarly work, their skills, theological competence, knowledge and publishing activities. The former regime limited publishing activities of the Faculty to one textbook a year, now such limit does not exist. To fulfill the intentions, the Faculty has been searching for the possibilities of acquiring foreign studying literature for both teachers and students.
Just as evidently the demands put on students' work have been increasing too. They are supposed to devote more time to independent studies, to present diploma theses of high standard, etc. The Faculty has been supporting talented students and preparing them for further studies in our country and also abroad. A certain impulse for our students are those graduates who have been studying at foreign universities already and who achieve excellent results.
The Faculty cannot ignore the practical preparation of students either, that is why the cycle of the Faculty has pastoric, missionary, and apologetic orientation. The Holy Scriptures, tradition, holy services, saints and sacraments, councils, everything is being interpreted and practically implemented in relation to the present reality of life. The issue of the Church communion, liturgic restoration, implementation of the Church canons, the message of Saints, patristic theology and experience, the original principles of the Church mission, ecclesiology, and social commitment of the Church have been studied as implementation of the commandment on love to a human. The studies have their continuation in the lifelong self education of clergymen. Special attention is paid to liturgic life and to spiritual improvement of both future clergymen and workers of the Church. The reason is that theology should be reflected as an ascetic and intellectual creativity which must involve reason and heart, mind and will, spirit and body. All this, however, does not contradict the needs of professional or scholarly studies, for both these spheres complement each other, and are perfectly verified by the history of the Church. The school system always remains the place of prayer, and cannot be changed into a place of exercise.
Typical of the Faculty is that a student here is being educated in another way as well: apart from lectures there are in fact all the spaces of the Faculty and all forms of contact with teachers and other workers and students of the college, work in the library, at home, in leisure time, helping work for the college and for the Church, social institutions, activities in youth organizations, in choirs, in the iconographic circle, etc. Exceptionally highly is appreciated the social work for old and handicapped people, etc. Our students observe the ways of management, the ways of using sources (financial and material), they participate in the managing of the Faculty (eg. through the Academic Senate), they observe the way priorities are being determined, the ways of solving problems, relations between people, lack of material sources, the way of searching for the sources, because they will need all this in their lives.
A human must educate him/herself all life long and school represents only a fragment of the time, therefore the Faculty concentrates in relation to students on such aims which, considering individual abilities of students, are optimal and attainable. First of all it teaches a student to know the inevitable bases of faith and practice; it teaches a student to distinguish as sharply as possible the essential from the secondary in learning and in life; it teaches to recognize the gifts of mercy, multidimensionality of the spiritual life of a human and its values; it teaches a student to avoid formalism, rationalism, conservatism, for these things rid people of their creative spirituality. The Faculty teaches a student to attain spiritual stability, balance, faithfulness, ability to distinguish the true light from the darkness; it teaches to understand freedom and responsibility so that all men and women who are theologically and spiritually genuinely educated managed to live true lives – lives in God.
At present the Faculty of Orthodox Theology has 95 regular students and 86 correspondent students. Pedagogical work is being carried out by three Professors, two Doctors of Theology, and six assistant lecturers, eight lecturers from other faculties of the University of Presov for both secular subjects and languages.
The degree of Doctor honoris causa was achieved by seven internationally respected specialists - theologists. Within the last two years the Faculty published 19 elementary textbooks of theology and of the history of the Church, a collection of research papers of the Faculty (PTZ 16, 17, 18). There are 16 new items and a next volume of The Orthodox Theological Collection (No.19) prepared to be published.
Promising is also the development of foreign relations, especially with theological faculties, on personal and also institutional ground. Specialized literature is being provided, specialists are being invited to read lectures (visiting Professors and Doctors of Theology). The Faculty has a detached branch in Olomouc (Czech republic) which provides lectures and consultations for the correspondence course students of the Orthodox Church in the Czech republic. The branch is headed by the experienced teacher Prof. ThDr. Pavel Ales. More than 30 students study there.
Similarly, to the Faculty belongs the Seminary which has a dormitory, a common temple, a dining half, a library with a study room at its disposal. Its head is the clergyman M.A. Emil Jarkovske, and this is the place where students lead their spiritual life and devote their time to individual studies.
The Faculty has two prodeans: the one for educational activities, the other for research activities and foreign relations.
Duration of the studies for the future clergymen and teachers of religion is five years. Having completed their theological studies students acquire M.A. degree (Mgr.}.
On January 1st 1997 our Faculty was included into the University of Presov on the basis of the Law of the Parliament of the Slovak republic on universities No.361/1996 Coll. We believe that it will successfully fulfill its educational mission.
top row: Serafin Sorovsky, Sava Osviashcheny, Antoniy Velykiy
bottom row: Moisei Uhrin, Jov Pochaievskiy, Teodosiy Pecherskiy, Serhiy Radonezhskiy
The study room, similarly as loan service, is accessible not only for the students of our Faculty but also for students, teachers, and workers of other faculties of the University of Presov. Currently, still more readers from other theological faculties, employees of various companies, and students of secondary schools show interest in our sources of literature. Nevertheless, these people are not being preferred. On the contrary, the library service is provided for our readers in the first place.
At the moment the retrospective cataloguing of the collection of literature, especially of theological monographs, is in process with help of computers. It will make search for required items easier, and will help the loan service work more quickly and more reliably. At the same time there will be an opportunity to enter catalogues of other libraries. Now our readers may use the data bank of the University library the data bank of books, and the data bank of periodicals 1996, and the catalogue of the Faculty library where older monographs are listed.
Page prepared by Walter Maksimovich
Copyright © 1999 LV Productions
© LV Productions Originally Composed: July 3rd, 1998
Date last modified: July 10th, 1999.