Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute

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Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute
USA-Berkeley-Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute.jpg
AffiliationEcumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
Location, ,

The Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute (PAOI) is a member of the Graduate Theological Union,[1] an ecumenical and interfaith consortium of nine independent seminaries and ten affiliated centers based in Berkeley, California. The Institute is a unique, independent, not-for-profit teaching and research institution.[2] The PAOI exists to educate, communicate, promote and sustain the traditions, values, teachings and culture of Eastern Orthodox Christianity.[3] It is the only independent and permanently endowed Orthodox educational center with a physical presence at a North American university.[4]

The PAOI is chartered by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in modern-day Istanbul, Turkey,[5] and is named in honor of Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople 1948-1972.


The PAOI offers the Master of Arts in Eastern Orthodox Christian Studies as a two-year degree program. It is the only MA program in Orthodox theology in North America outside of those offered by the Orthodox seminaries in the Eastern United States.[6]


The Paul Manolis Distinguished Lecturer Series brings prominent Orthodox scholars from throughout the world. Previous lecturers include Metropolitan Kallistos Ware and former vice-rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, Fr. Robert Taft.[7]

The Institute's Campus Ministry assists with the social and spiritual needs of Orthodox Christian students, and is a sponsor of the Cal Berkeley chapter of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship.[8][9]

The InterOrthodox Press is the publishing arm of the Institute; it makes available for purchase books and other materials reflecting the work of the Institute as well as works written by scholars on topics of concern to the Orthodox Church.

Community Outreach[edit]

The Institute regularly offers educational programs to the faithful of the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. These range from courses in Byzantine Chant, seminars and workshops, to the annual Summer Institute.

The Institute has been active with local history groups, working to collect, preserve, and share the history of the Greek-American community[10] in the United States.


Metropolitan Nikitas Lulias is the director of the Institute .[11] Fr. Tom Paris, pastor emeritus of Ascension Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Oakland, CA, is the chaplain and former board chairman.


The Institute was incorporated as an Affiliate Member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California in 1981, under the leadership of (then) Bishop Anthony (Gergiannakis) of San Francisco and The Very Reverend Dr. Leonidas Contos. In 1987 the Alexander G. Spanos Chair of Eastern Orthodox Christian Studies was established through a generous donation by Alexander and Faye Spanos.[12]

Previous Directors[edit]

  • 2002-2006, Dr. Anton C. Vrame. Dr. Vrame holds degrees from DePaul University and University of Chicago, [Holy Cross School of Orthodox Theology] (Masters of Divinity, 1989) and Boston College (Ph.D. in Theology and Education, 1997.) Prior to being named the director of the PAOI, Dr. Vrame was the managing editor of Holy Cross Orthodox Press, the publishing arm of Holy Cross School of Orthodox Theology, Brookline, Massachusetts, from 1996-2002. Previous positions were adjunct Assistant professor in Christian Education at Holy Cross and Lecturer in Religious Education at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. He was named the Director of the Department of Religious Education of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America effective January 1, 2007.[13]
  • 1981-2001, Paul G. Manolis. Mr. Manolis was the founding director of the St. John the Divine Orthodox Institute that later was named the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute.[14][15]


  1. ^ "Centers of Distinction | Graduate Theological Union". Retrieved 2010-10-22.
  2. ^ "Evolving Visions of the Orthodox Priesthood in America" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-10-27.
  3. ^ "Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute | Belief, Religion, Christian, Orthodox -". Retrieved 2012-10-26.
  4. ^ "PAOI website, accessed October 21, 2012". Retrieved 2012-10-21.
  5. ^ "Patriarchal Institutions Around the World | Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople". Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  6. ^ "Higher Education — Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America". Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  7. ^ "Byzantine Scholar to Deliver Manolis Lectures at PAOI", Orthodox Observer, 20 (1213): 12, January 5, 2005
  8. ^ "PAOI - Orthodox Christian Fellowship". Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  9. ^ "University of California - Berkeley - Orthodox Christian Fellowship". Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  10. ^ "Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute, Berkeley". Retrieved 2012-10-26.
  11. ^ "Fr. Evagoras Constantinides — Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America". Retrieved 2012-10-26.
  12. ^ "Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute", Greek Orthodox Archdiocese 2015 Yearbook, 263, retrieved 2015-02-01
  13. ^ "Dr. Anton C. Vrame Appointed Director of Department of Religious Education". Retrieved 2015-02-01.
  14. ^ "The Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute". Retrieved 2015-02-01.
  15. ^ "Keeping the Dream Alive". Hellenic Journal. XXXVIII (1): 6. January 2013. Retrieved 2015-02-02.