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The Theological Boarding House

The history of the theological School

St. Chrysostom, the protector

The history of the Theological School

(Taken from the book by Archmandrite fr. Nikolaos Protopapas , «A b rief history of the theological boarding school of the Apostoliki Diakonia, Apostoliki Diakonia Publications , 1986)  

The first one to conceive the idea of founding a theological boarding school was the Metropolitan of Athens, Germanos Kalligas (1885-1896). From his very first days of his ministry as Metropolitan in the capital city, he commenced the operation of a simply-organized boarding school inside the Metropolitan building, with ten boarders who resided there under his supervision in a strict monastic style. Most of the boarders who graduated from the Theological School later became clergymen.

Germanos of Athens arranged for the creation of a seminary in the Athens suburb of Ambelokipi, on a piece of property that belonged to the Holy Monastery of St. John the Theologian, at the site called "Panaghia Chelonou". Unfortunately, Germanos did not live to see the School in operation, as he passed away suddenly, on January 18 th, 1896 .

Germanos' successor, Prokopios II (1896-1901) finished building the School, but did not manage to put it into operation, as the building was commandeered by the State and after many pursuant adventures, it ended up housing the current Police Academy.

The Archbishop Chrysostom Papadopoulos (1923-1938), being a professor at the Theological School, had first-hand knowledge of the students' problems, and especially of the candidates for the clergy, thus making his primary objective the founding of a theological boarding school. On his instruction, some of the cells of the Holy Monastery of the Asomaton Petraki were allocated as residence for the indigent students of theology.

In June of 1933, the Holy Synod decided to found a theological boarding school, which would also include a tuition center for sermon preachers. In the boarding school, the students would be taught ecclesiastic music; the boarders would practice liturgical functions, the formal style, catechism, the preaching of the Divine Word, and in fact in one or two other foreign languages. A committee of Synodic Hierarchs would manage and direct the boarding school, on the basis of special regulations. With the system of the School of Chalke as their model, each Metropolitan would be required to undertake the maintenance of at least one scholar, whom he would continue to supervise, and after his graduation, would hire him to offer his services to his Metropolis.

The building foundations were laid by the Archbishop Chrysostom Papadopoulos - after numerous adventures and difficulties due to reactions by the neighbors - on the 22 nd July 1937 , in a sector of the Holy Monastery of Petraki.

Chrysostom's successor, Archbishop Chrysanthos Filippides (1938-1941) was fortunate enough to see the building completed; however, because of the war at the time, it did not commence operation, as it was converted to a military hospital, given the prevailing circumstances.

Thanks to the actions of the Archbishop Damascenos (1941-1949) and the General Director of the Apostoliki Diakonia, professor Basil Vellas, in 1948 in an appropriately arranged basement area of the Holy Monastery of Petraki, the first ten students of the theological boarding school were put up.

With the ascent of Spyridon Vlachos of Ioannina to the archbishop's throne (1949-1956), the boarding school enjoyed its most illustrious era. In 1950, in one of the floors of the building, the first 40 students were offered hospitality. By the end of that year, 90 students were residing in the building. Archmandrite Barnabas Tzortzatos (afterwards Metropolitan of Kitrus) was assigned as the first, temporary director, and in a few months, he was succeeded by the (former) Metropolitan of Limnos, fr. Basil Atessis ( 15 th September 1950 )

The boarding school commenced to chart its illustrious course in the 1950 decade, along with its other activities in the ecclesiastic realm. In the middle of the decade, the boarders increased to 202, a significant number of whom were from abroad. The boarding school students also developed abundant missionary and catechist activities, both in the dioceses of Athens , but also during their visits to the countryside, they assisted the local churches significantly in the difficult catechist role of those times. Special attention was paid to the theological education and ecclesiological training of the students on the basic principle of experiencing the Christian Truth. The students' entire schedule was based on ecclesiastic and liturgical experience. It would be worth noting that the boarding school's official foreign visitors were quite a few in number, given that it constituted the inter-orthodox center of the Church of Greece .

During the academic year of 1953-4 , it was decided to dedicate the commemoration of Saint John the Chrysostom as the day of celebration for the boarding school.

In 1970, after a Synodic decision, the theological boarding school was transferred to a 3-storeyed building on Martinegue street in the suburb of N. Filothei outside Athens .

From 1974 , the boarding school entered a new phase of its life. From the building of N. Filothei it was transferred to the newly-constructed buildings of the Holy Monastery of the Esodia of the Theotokos, I the district of Kareas. From 1976, a period of financial problems began; this created several problems and crises in the smooth operation of the boarding school. Nevertheless, despite the problems, the theological boarding school continued to operate and to offer its services to the Church. Scores of Bishops and University professors, hundreds of Archmandrites, Protopresbyters and secular theologians are among the many boarders listed over the years. Hundreds more brethren, of our faith and heterodox also, who today hold important positions in the Church and the State of their own homeland, lived and studied the theological lessons of this boarding school.

During the rebirth of ecclesiastic life that was observed in post-war Greece , one cannot ignore the role of the theological boarding school of the Apostoliki Diakonia.

On the initiative of His Beatitude the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, the Apostoliki Diakonia proceeded to restore for the needs of relocating the Students' Theological Boarding School one of its abandoned 3-storey buildings, situated in the site of the Shrine of Saint Barbara in the suburb of the same name. This building had operated years before as the School for Deaconesses. The Students' Theological Boarding School will host approximately 120 students of the Athens University .

The Inauguration Ceremony of the new Theological Boarding School for Students took place on Monday, 21 st June 2004, at 7.30 pm, in the presence of His Beatitude the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Christodoulos.

His Beatitude offered to the Theological Boarding School a segment of the holy relic of its Patron, saint John the Chrysostom, which is safeguarded in the basilica of Saint Peter, in the so-called "Kanonikon" chapel in the Vatican , and was brought here on the initiative of His Beatitude.

Finally, His Eminence the Bishop of Fanarion, Agathangelos, General Director of the Apostoliki Diakonia, highlighted among other things: «In recent times, terrorism seems to be at the epicenter of events, spreading death among people and tearing down everything that we have built with our hands. However, it has been some time now, that we have been submitted to the attacks of another kind of terrorism, which has the characteristic of leaving intact not only the people's buildings but also their bodies. It deadens their souls only, and it leaves behind communities in which bodies merely move about and brains function, but mostly devoid of love, devoid of hearts, devoid of humaneness. This type of terrorism is supported by the disruption of one's personality, by confusion, and by the mutation of man's very being. It is our hope that the Theological Boarding School will contribute towards the spiritual protection of our people and of the other Orthodox Churches; and with God's help, it will prove to be not a mere nursery, but in fact a tiny lighthouse that will shed its light in our homeland, our Church, and the whole world.»

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