Where are you from originally?
I was born in Constantinople (for some reason, my students insist it’s called Istanbul, Turkey), but I was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Yes, I am a New Englander.
What is your area of research and teaching?
Liturgical theology and liturgical history, with a specialization in liturgical manuscripts and texts, Eucharistic Prayers, liturgical spirituality, and sacramental theology. I also teach courses in Biblical Greek, Patristics, and an elective on evil and exorcism (this semester, back by popular demand).
What attracted you to this subject?
Being a priest, the liturgical life of the Church is of central importance for me. It is the crucible where all theology, theoretical and practical, come together, in a unique symbiotic and mutually supportive relationship. For me, the simple execution of the services without proper understanding and contextualization — and without connecting worship to everyday life and existential and salvational issues — is unacceptable. God and worship cannot be just other compartments of life but our very life itself. It is my own personal, lifelong mission to instill this in my students and in all those whom God brings into my life.
I was earnestly seeking an academic environment, religious or secular, conducive to this specialized field where I could teach and put my doctorate to use. I was blessed to have the endorsement of my beloved spiritual father, the now retired Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Pittsburgh Maximos, a world-renowned systematic theologian, who immediately recommended the Seminary to me and wrote my letter of recommendation. In addition, the recently departed Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Robert F. Taft, SJ, the world’s premiere and most prolific liturgiologist, likewise recommended me for this position, both in word and writing. To be honest, up to this day, I have been extremely grateful and humbled by these two giants’ love, support, and faith in me.
How many years have you taught at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary?
This is my tenth year. Oh my, how the time has flown by!
What is the most challenging part of teaching for you?
My students (and fellow scholars) all know me to be longwinded, so I would say limiting my lectures time-wise without compromising the richness and relevance of the content. I suppose this is somewhat akin to feeding adults with filet mignon but pureeing it first into baby food — and being ok with spreading the delicacies over a whole semester!
State one thing you wish you had known in your undergraduate days.
Hmm … I suppose that all professors are fallible. This would have certainly helped my obsession with perfectionism.
What experiences have shaped you spiritually?
The Orthodox Church’s rich liturgical life, my family upbringing, and the endless wealth of our Tradition’s spiritual writing and saints. And of course those Spirit-filled persons and experiences that God sends our way, those “moments of grace”, that are anything but coincidental.
What do you do to de-stress?
I love to power walk and listen to music, read, and play the bouzouki (a Greek instrument akin to the mandolin), sometimes for hours. Been playing 20 years now and I don’t see any end in sight!
Cat or dog person?
Definitely a cat person. Our family cat Jasper reminds us daily that loving an animal is good practice for loving humans. And vice versa, I suppose. We’re all gifts from God for each other.
If you are interested in having Fr. Stelyios—or any of our faculty—speak at your next event, visit www.bcs.edu/faculty-directory.