Orthodox Theological Seminary (Warsaw, Poland)

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The Orthodox Theological Seminary in Warsaw, Polish: Prawosławne Seminarium Duchowne, is a theological seminary of the Church of Poland, located in Warsaw.


The seminary had its origin in the "Private Study of Orthodox Theology at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Warsaw" established by Metropolitan Dionysius of Warsaw after the end of World War II. His efforts, however, were stymied with his arrest on February 2, 1948, removal by the Polish government from administration of the Polish Church on April 17, 1948, and internment in the city of Sosnowiec, Poland. Efforts by Archbishop Timothy to continue the theological school were unsuccessful.

In 1950, Abp. Timothy, who as locum tenens succeeded Metr. Dionysius, again initiated a request to establish an Orthodox theological school. He informed the Minister of Education of the Church's desire to create an Orthodox Theological School based on a decision of October 23, 1950. On March 7, 1951, the deputy director Roman Darczewskiego of the Office of Religious Affairs signed a letter noting the decision and expressed "consent to commence studies in Orthodox School of Theology in Warsaw on March 20,1951."

On March 20, 1951, the Orthodox School of Theology opened in Warsaw with Fr. Alexander M. Kalinowicz as the first rector. On September 1, 1951, the newly installed Metropolitan of Warsaw Macarius changed the status of the school to that of an Orthodox Theological Seminary, with a curriculum of four years. On October 1,1951, Metr. Macarius appointed Fr. Serafim Żeleźniakowicz to the position of rector.

The early years of the seminary were filled with trials as lack of funds and poor facilities hampered the education process. The building housing the seminary, that also served a pre-seminary school and as residences, was inadequate for fulfilling its function, with insufficient space for learning, individual work and rest. Under these circumstances, various methods of raising the level of education were explored. Nevertheless, in 1954 the first class of graduates left seminary, welcomed by the many parishes that were deprived of pastoral ministry. This event became very important in the life of the Orthodox Church in Poland.

In 1957, the pre-seminary section was re-formed as the Christian Orthodox Theological Academy. The classes for students of the Orthodox Academy continued to be held during these early days in the building with the Seminary, but, in 1968, were moved a different building in Warsaw. In 1958, moves were made to enable students from the High School for Workers to take up afternoon classes that reduced the hours of studies at the Academy. This was recognized in 1960 with the development of a new school statute and regulations and led in the late 1960's to intensive efforts to start a high school at the Seminary. This, on September 1, 1970, the Ministry of Education agreed. Thus, the Academy became a branch of the High School for Workers, in which classes in high school subjects were held for three days a week. This led to a reduction in the hours in academy subjects and, beginning during the school year 1970-1971, to an extension of course time in the seminary to six years.

The year 1970 also included a change in the position of rector at the seminary as Fr. Dr. Serafim Żeleźniakowicz, the longtime rector of the Seminary, was transferred to another position in the Church, and was replaced by Fr. Vyacheslav Rafalski. In 1974, the desire to create better conditions for preparation for the ministry by participating in the liturgical and monastic practices, Metr. Basil transferred the V and VI classes of the Seminary to St. Onufry Monastery[1] in Jabłeczna. Additionally, Archimandrite Dr. Sawa (Hrycuniak) was appointed rector of the Jabłeczna branch of the Seminary. On September 17, 1974, Fr. Rafalski, rector of the seminary in Warsaw, died. His successor, Fr. Rostislav Kozlowski, was appointed on December 1, 1974.

In 1977, Metr. Basil attempted to transfer the entire seminary to the Monastery in Jabłeczna. While the idea was accepted by Council of Bishops and the secular authorities, the move could not be completed due to difficult housing conditions in the monastery and the inability to provide for a general education. Also in 1977, Fr. John Sezonow was appointed to the post of rector of the seminary in Warsaw, a position he retained until July 1, 1987. On August 15, 1987, Metr. Basil appointed Fr. George Tofiluka rector of the Seminary.

In 1991, the Ministry of Education decided to close the Branch High School at the Orthodox Seminary in Warsaw. Faced with this decision, the Church and Seminary officials decided to transform the school from a high school to a higher vocational school. Thus, from September 1992 only candidates who held a certificate of maturity would be accepted. This reorganization reduced course work at the Orthodox Seminary in Warsaw from six to three years. Also, in 1992, the Council of Bishops of the Polish Orthodox Church decided to close the branch of the Warsaw Seminary in Jabłeczna.

In May 1998, in accordance with an amended Act on the Relation of State to the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church, the Orthodox Theological Seminary in Warsaw received the right to confer the bachelor degree in Orthodox theology. In the 50 years that the Orthodox Theological Seminary in Warsaw had functioned it produced more than 500 graduates, of whom the vast majority have remained as workers in the Church.