International Orthodox Christian News

St. Basil Award Earned by Antiochian Seminarian

The Rev. Aaron Warwick, a third-year student at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVS), was one of two recipients of the seminary’s St. Basil the Great Award for Academic Achievement, presented to him on the Feast of the Three Hierarchs, January 30, 2009. The award—established in 2003 by an anonymous benefactor who wished to recognize and encourage students who have excelled in their studies at the seminary—was presented by His Beatitude JONAH, primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) after the Divine Liturgy in the seminary chapel. Second-year student Dr. Andrew Cuneo, of the OCA, also received the award.

Fr. Aaron has been a member of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (AOCANA) since his chrismation on April 16, 2001, at St. Mary Church in Omaha, NE. He and his wife, Gwen, were married in that same parish on June 2, 2001. Fr. Aaron served on the parish council for three years, holding the offices of treasurer and parish council chairman; and he and his wife also served as Teen SOYO advisors during that time. The couple has three children, Emmelia (4) and Adrian (2), and another boy due at the end of May.

Fr. Aaron was ordained a deacon on March 25, 2007, by His Grace, Bishop ANTOUN at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY; and a priest on May 6, 2007 by His Grace, Bishop BASIL at St. Mary Church in Omaha (his home parish). Currently, he fulfills his weekly student parish assignment at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, where he assists the cathedral dean, Archpriest Thomas P. Zain.

“Since he started serving with me three years ago, Fr. Aaron has displayed remarkable maturity, even though he is young,” said Fr. Thomas. “In addition to his beautiful voice and his ability to conduct the services well, his pastoral care in the parish has proven that he will be a wonderful shepherd to his own flock someday.”

Fr. Aaron also serves as the Resident Assistant (RA) in the married student apartment complex at SVS. Upon his graduation from the seminary, he hopes to receive a parish assignment from Metropolitan PHILIP, Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America. His Master of Divinity thesis topic at St. Vladimir’s is an allegorical understanding of the gospel parable of the rich man and Lazarus—quite a vocational shift from his position as an internal auditor for Union Pacific Railroad in Omaha, where he worked for the three years prior to his entrance into the seminary program. Fr. Aaron’s undergraduate degree is a BSBA (Bachelor of Science in Business Administration) with a major in Accounting.

The award he received bears the name of St. Basil the Great, one of the Three Holy Hierarchs for whom the seminary chapel is named. With St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil is lauded as a “harp of the Spirit,” a “trumpet of truth,” a “flowing river of wisdom,” a “teacher of the universe,” a “pillar of the Church.” Like St. Gregory and St. John (to use words from one of the church hymns in honor of the Holy Hierarchs), St. Basil “approached the meadows of books like a bee, gathering well the flowers of virtue.” He excelled in the study of philosophy and rhetoric, the two most prized areas of intellectual accomplishment of his day. He demonstrated how such intellectual pursuits help to edify the church and enlighten the universe. In so doing, St. Basil has given a noble example for all who dedicate themselves to the study of Orthodox theology.

This past year, the St. Basil the Great Award was also given to a graduating student at commencement exercises in May 2008, Dn. Rico Gabriel Monge. Dn. Gabriel, who was valedictorian of his senior class at SVS, is also an AOCANA student, and currently is in a program for doctoral studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

May God grant that the all of the reward recipients, with St. Basil as their exemplar, will continue to excel not only in academic achievements but also in wisdom and in virtue!


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