In 1994 in Arad a new school was born, the Orthodox Theological Seminary of Arad, a school in which a lot of generations were to fulfil their career of future priests, Religion teachers, church singers. An old tradition (since 1760) was renewed at that moment, brutally forbidden in 1948 by the Comunist regime, by interdicting the Theological Academy in Arad.
In the meeting of 13th of January 1994, The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church approved the setting up of the Orthodox Theological Seminary of Arad on the suggestion of the local bishop of Arad, dr. Timotei Seviciu. The initiative of the Holy Synod got also the approval of the Romanian Government. Because there was not a proper place for the newly born school, the Arad Bishopric appealed to the goodwill of the local educational authorities which decided that the Orthodox Theological Seminary of Arad should unfold his activity in the Pedagogical High-School.
Beginning with the second year, the school has changed his place on the Theological Academy Street, where it continues its activity to the present. In the same building, on the upper floor, the Theological Academy is unfolding its activity.
This building was built between 1884-1885 by the Arad Bishopric, from the bishop Ioan Metianu’s initiative by public collection of the Christians from Arad. In the beginning, the Theological Institute unfold its activity here, the future to be Theological Academy (the first theological institution with an academic degree in Romania). At present, in the Orthodox Theological Seminary of Arad one hundred students are studying.
In time, the seminary improved its infrastructure. It has a chapel, a library, a French literature and language room, a music room and a PC room with 26 computers.
The Orthodox Theological Seminary of Arad is a vocational school, addressing itself especially to youngsters who want and are able to prove a real call for God and people serving. Beside the ordinary objects, there are optional activities like church singing in different parishes in Arad, participating in the weekly programme of the choir and in the liturgical programme.
As a prove of the students’ training, there stand a lot of prizes in local and national competitions.
One of the best moments during the educational year are those in which the students are appreciated through their participation in the artistic moments like shows and concerts (the 9th of May: Europe’s day, Independence Day of Romania, World War II Memorial; Christmas carol concert etc.).
In 2004 the first official web site of the school was created. In 2008 there took place the first international symposium entitled Tradition and integration. Unity in diversity in which over 500 teachers from Romania and abroad participated. In 2010, the second international symposium took place, The Light of the Orthodox Faith.
In 2009 the Orthodox Theological Seminary of Arad hosted the national competition for all the seminary students from Romania. In the same year, the choir of the seminary participated in the national choir competition in the Romanian Patriarchy in Bucharest where the conductor of the choir, deacon Tiberiu Ardelean, received the prize for the best conductor.
Short History of the Orthodox Theological Education in Arad
After many written requests coming from the Orthodox hierarchs, especially from the metropolitan of Karlovitz, “by the order of the emperor at 1 November 1822 clerical schools will be opened in the dioceses of Arad, Timişoara and Vârşeţ, organized following the example of those in Karlovitz and Pacratz”.
The big news spread fast in all the Arad Bishopric, because it was communicated by the bishop Iosif Putnic, the holder of the bishop throne in Arad. The echo of this news was remarkable because in the first series of classes 68 young have registred. The first teachers of The Theological Institute were: Gavril Raţ and Gavril Giuliani, considered at that time to be the most prepared priests from Arad area. The school year 1832-1824 has registered 49 pupils, and in the second year remained 31, the others left the school for different reasons. So, totally 80 pupils were included in the school year.
Gavriil Gherasim Raţ managed the Institute until the end of first semester of 1834-1835 school year because he was appointed bishop in Arad, as the first Romanian bishop. He was ordinated bishop at the feast of Evangeline 1835, but the official installation took place in the 8th of April.
His place at the Institute was taken by Dimitrie Iacobescu. At the beginning of 1835-1836 school year Gavril Giuliani leaves the Institute, too, being appointed archpriest of Buteni. The abbot from Hodoş-Bodrog monastery, Grigorie Chirilovici, took Giuliani’s place after he had left. This time therte were brought as teachers of the Institute the following priests: Petru Varga and Petru Popovici. They will remain teachers until 1839.
Beging with 1839-1840 school year the Institute enters a higher level because there are brought two young teachers with a lot of apostolic goodwill: the archdeacon Patrichie Popescu and monk-deacon Ghenadie Popescu. In 1843 bishop Gherasim Raţ appointed as Vlach grammar teacher the priest from Sâmbăteni, Ioan Raţ. Patrichie Popescu is called in 1844 in Karlovitz “damaging the Istitute and Romanian interests”. The institute will be lead by Ghenadie Popescu and as teacher in Patrichie Popescu’s place will be appointed Arsenie Popovici. Other important cultural and spiritual Romanian personalities worked at the institute: Roman Ciorogariu, Iosif Goldis, Aron – Augustin Hamsea, Vasile Mangra, Iustin Suciu, Teodor Botis, Iosif Iuliu Olariu a. o.
In the middle of XIXth century, the local Institute passes through an important crisis. That fact forced the local bishop Ioan Metianu to appeal the leadership of Church for the recovery of Romanian schools especially The Theological Institute. Bishop Mentianu took some personal conclusions: “in order to rise the education first of all we are in need of illuminated teachers, priests, real apostles of our believers and for their spiritual growing we are in desparate need of a good Institute”.
Following exactly the Synod’s words, bishop Metianu undertook all in need to reorganize and reinforce the Institute, so that he was preoccupied in having good teachers, regenerating the Institute by growing a new generation that could be at the high level claimed by His Eminence. Since 1875, there came Aron Hamsea, who studied Theology and Law, Vasile Mangra, Ignatie Papp, the last one will become bishop of Arad. The teaching disciplines were distributed in the following mode:
Since 1927-1928 school year , The Theological Institute from Arad, is elevated, by the decision no. 60/1927 of bishopric assembly , during Bishop’ s Dr. Grigorie Comşa espicopate, at the level of Theological Academy, being reorganized with four classes. 1927 marks the beginning of a new era in the theological Arad school’s life. Unfortunately in 1948 the communist leaders dissolved this venerable place of faith, culture and Christian –Romanian spirituality.
The location of the school
In its very beginning, the Theological Institute didn’t have its own location. The classes were held in different houses, rented, near the Mures riverside, where the old cathedral, was demolished in 1861.
The priesthood and intelligentsia from Arad desired to have an own location for the Institute. So “ parish assembly from Arad asked the Synod a loan in 1873 for buying a building near the Church, which will be the location of the Theological Institute”.
In 1875 it has been started the construction of this building near the Cathedral Church. Bishop Ioan Metianu sent a letter to all the priests, archpriests and teachers; through this message His Eminence claimed that everyone should bring his help in finishing the school construction. This claime had a good result and the building was finished in a record time. That is why the 1876-1877 school year stared in the new location.
The Theological School in Arad had its location here as a Theological Institute and as a Theological Academy from the year 1927-1948, headed by leading figures of the Romanian Church and culture of that time: Dr. Teodor Botis, Nicolae Popovici, Dr. Ilarion V. Felea, the last rector of the Theological Academy. We said last rector because in the year 1948 the voice of this school was silenced and its gates were closed, after its impact with the atheist leadership from Romania. This school remained closed untills the 1989 Revolution.
The recall to life of a religious, cultural, theological tradition old by centuries
After a silence of over four decades, the theological school from Arad resurected in the autumn of 1991 as a Faculty of Theology, inside the University “Aurel Vlaicu”. This Faculty is considered to be the sequel of the academical theological edication from Arad, which has its roots in the Preparandia of Arad (1812) and in The Theological Institute (1822) and also in the Theological Academy. This was possible because after1989 many people of the culture have made many memories and have taken several steps to recall to life the fundamental institutions of the community.
In the first year of existence, 1991-1992 school year, classes were held in the current location of the medical school, and in the autumn of 1992 and consequently from the 1992-1993 school year the Faculty of Theology has been moved on Dragalina street, no. 28, where there was enough space for classes, seminaries and offices until 1996. In the autumn of 1996 in a solemn way the theological faculty has been moved in the current place which was intended by the founders. This was not easy, requiring many steps and even a protest of teachers and students, scholars, headed by His Eminence Bishop Timotei Seviciu, on the 8 to 9 January 1996.
(This article is taken from here: http://www.revistateologia.ro/?page_id=125 .)