“‘A Man of God is in this Town’ (1 Sam 9:6): Princeton Years of the Ethiopian Patriarch Abuna Paulos (1936–2012)”
Opening Remarks: The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, President of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary
Lecturer: Dr. Karlfried Froehlich, Benjamin B. Warfield Professor of Ecclesiastical History Emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary
Sponsored by the President's Office and the Department of History & Ecumenics.
Free and open to the public.
An exhibit case in the concourse on the first floor of the Seminary library contains a small display on Abuna Paulos, including several photographs; a copy of his 1988 PhD dissertation “Filsata: The Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and the Mariological Tradition of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church”; a few books on the history and traditions of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, several of which were a gift of Abuna Paulos himself to the Seminary; a copy of the 1992 article on him that appeared in the New York Times regarding his return to Ethiopia; and a copy of the New Testament in Amharic presented by Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia to the Princeton Theological Seminary Library in 1946.
Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and Archdioceses of New York, the Northeast and Central United States
“It is with great honor that I extend to Princeton Theological Seminary and its alumni and supporters my deep appreciation for this program to honor your alumnus and our beloved father of blessed memory, H.H. Abuna Paulos, Fifth Patriarch of Ethiopia and the Etchege of the See of Saint Tekle Haimanot. His love for God and his church is beyond words. His great commitment and work in his native country Ethiopia, coupled with his willingness to be a means and resource to all who seek God’s love, hope and message of salvation, sent him abroad and propelled him into the foray of global Christian mission as president of the World Council of Churches and as an Orthodox Christian missionary in the United States. He made his home in New York for many years, working to help advance the Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s mission in the United States and development of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s growth in the west in general. Princeton Theological Seminary played a key role in resourcing and supporting the aims and endeavors of the work of this man of God, our father of blessed memory, H.H. Abuna Paulos, PhD. It is at the Seminary where he completed his doctoral studies.
We are very thankful to Princeton Theological Seminary and all others who have worked to bring about this important and historical honor of H.H. Abuna Paulos.”
Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church from 1992–2012
Abuna Paulos was known as Father Yohannes when he first came to work on a ThM at Princeton Seminary in 1969. In 1972 he was admitted to the PhD program, but was summoned home to Ethiopia in 1974, consecrated as Bishop Paulos, and put in charge of ecumenical relations and social affairs by His Holiness Patriarch Theophilos. When Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed in a Marxist coup, Bishop Paulos and many other clergy were imprisoned without trial by the new government. Bishop Paulos spent six years in prison and one year under house arrest, unable to leave the country or contact friends from abroad.
“When I was in prison,” he once said, “my dream was always to return to Princeton. When I woke from sleep in those months in my cell, I had often been dreaming about walking across the campus, or reading in the library, or sitting in the dining room eating with my faculty and student friends…”
In 1982 he was released and through the efforts of Princeton Seminary and the World Council of Churches was quickly brought out of Ethiopia to resume his studies in Princeton. He graduated with the Class of 1988, having completed his doctoral work with a dissertation on the understanding of Mary in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. He also found time during his studies to work with Ethiopian refugees, beginning in New York City but eventually helping to establish congregations in cities across the country.
In 1992 Bishop Paulos was consecrated as Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the spiritual leader of at that time 37 million Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. In 2006 he was named one of the seven serving presidents of the World Council of Churches. He was especially concerned to support war-displaced refugees and drought-hit Ethiopians and received the Nansen Refugee Award from the UN.
“Princeton Seminary helped me whittle down to the core of my faith and helped me discover what mattered most to me.”