Photo: Students in Fordham’s chapter of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship at a 2019 event with the Right Rev. Irinej Dobrijević, Bishop of Eastern America of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Orthodox Christian Studies Center Advisory Council member, and the co-founding directors of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center, professors George Demacopoulos (left) and Aristotle Papanikolaou (right).
Fordham’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center in New York City has a growing national and international reputation, a vibrant scholarly circle, a widely read academic blog, and an academic minor that is the first of its kind in the country.
Now all it needs is a home.
With help from two of the University’s most generous donors, the center is well on its way to getting just that—a dedicated space at the Rose Hill campus, designed around the heritage and iconography of Orthodox Christianity, that acts as a leaven for new academic opportunities and student engagement.
The center has been mainly about research and publications since its founding 10 years ago, said George Demacopoulos, Ph.D., the Father John Meyendorff & Patterson Family Chair of Orthodox Christian Studies and one of the center’s two founding directors. However, with this new multipurpose facility, “for the first time we’re really going to be able to focus on the undergraduate students themselves” by providing spaces for informal gatherings as well as events that enrich their education, he said.
He and the other founding director, Aristotle Papanikolaou, Ph.D., the Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture, are based at the Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses, respectively, and the center has held events in various places at both campuses.
The center will hold all but its biggest events in its new dedicated facility, Demacopoulos said. Located in the 1,500-square-foot space in the basement of Loyola Hall, it will include offices, a conference room, a gathering area, and a small chapel with specially commissioned icons, as well as shelves for hundreds of donated volumes now sitting in boxes.
Demacopoulos estimated that construction and renovation of the space could begin in late 2023, putting the center on path to a more rooted existence and doing away with constant searches for event spaces around the University.
The new facility will be a familiar place where students gather for study groups or stop in at the chapel for some quiet reflection. Academic experts and clergy will come for webinars, panel discussions, and other events that illuminate questions of Orthodoxy in the modern world. This multipurpose space will be focused on the integrating of learning with faith and service.
This will be the first dedicated physical space the center has ever had, Demacopoulos said. Its large common area will enable informal gatherings by students who are pursuing the Orthodox Christian studies minor or who belong to the Fordham chapter of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship, a nationwide student organization.
Over the past several years, the center has fueled interest in Orthodox Christian studies, drawing students from as far away as California and Eastern Europe, he said. He expects the new facility to amplify this interest and draw more students to the Orthodox Christian studies minor—and not just Orthodox Christians, but also those from outside the tradition who want a better understanding of it.
“The center is not just theology; it’s the whole history, thought, and culture of the Orthodox Christian world, broadly understood,” Demacopoulos said.
Source: Fordham University News
September 15, 2022