For centuries, the famous Catechetical School of Alexandria was a unique source of edification for the Church universal. The strange disappearance of that blessed school was undoubtedly one of the most destructive blows to the great Church of Alexandria, which it has never fully recovered from. It is believed by the time St. Cyril of Alexandria was called to the episcopal throne in October of 412, the great Catechetical School ceased to exist, for reasons that scholars still debate today. St. Cyril took it upon himself, almost singlehandedly, to restore this school by teaching and writing for the rest of his life.
In the past century, many of the leaders of the Church saw it fit to restore the theological education to the level that it once was in the time of our great Alexandrian fathers. This was the dream of the newly recognized Saint Archdeacon Habib Girgis when re-establishing the Theological Seminary in Egypt, and the thrice-blessed His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, when he established the theological seminary here in Los Angeles in 1989, and the seminaries in New Jersey, Australia and throughout the world.Since the formation of this blessed diocese in December of 1995, it has been one of my principle objectives to advance the theological education for all the faithful, servants, and clergy. For more than a decade, our goals have been:
(1) to establish an Orthodox Studies Program at the highest caliber, that would be fully accredited by the Academy of Theological Schools, in such a way that it would edify the clergy, servants, catechumen, and faithful of the Coptic Orthodox Church, especially within the Diocese of Los Angeles;
(2) to locate a facility that includes several classrooms, offices, and an extensive library;
(3) to establish a library to include at least 10,000 volumes of the necessary for advanced theological, scriptural, liturgical, and spiritual teaching;
(4) to appoint professors and administrative staff of the highest caliber, suitable for advanced academic learning; and
(5) to provide scholarships for deserving students who cannot afford to complete such a program.
Indeed, establishing an accredited institution of advanced theological study requires millions of dollars, hundreds of students, tens of bright scholars, and several years. By the Grace of God, these dreams have begun to be realized. Almost twenty years later, it is my great joy to announce the inaugural session of St. Athanasius and St. Cyril Theological Studies Program (ACTS).
It is my hope that this program will begin to fill the dire need that we have for in-depth, theological education and discourse for this generation, and those that follow us. These later generations are depending on us to fulfill the call of our forefathers to reopen the doors of the School of Alexandria for the edification of the Church, for the salvation of each of Her children, for the spread of the Kingdom, for the glory of His Name.
Wishing you all blessings, theological nourishment, and spiritual edification,