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Chapel Service: Thanksgiving Reflections on the Era of the Barrytown Providence

HJI was pleased to hold a virtual chapel service entitled “Thanksgiving Reflections on the Era of the Barrytown Providence” featuring special remarks from Dr. Thomas Walsh, President, Dr. Thomas Ward, Provost, Dr. Michael Mickler, Distinguished Professor of Historical Studies, Ute Delaney, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Administration.

Steven Boyd, Dean of Enrollment Management & Student Life, began the service by inviting all in attendance to join in heartfelt reflections of gratitude and appreciation for the many years of successful activities on the Barrytown property. Mika Deshotel, Associate Dean of Student Life, offered a heartfelt prayer of thanks to Heavenly Parent and True Parents to begin the program.

Dr. Frank LaGrotteria, Vice President, read passages taken from the Unification Theological Seminary Inaugural Convocation Speech by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, and an excerpt from Mother of Peace: A memoir by Hak Ja Han Moon, reminding us of True Parent’s vision and investment in the institution. A video selection of images of HJI highlights past and present was shared. Following the reading, Rev. Demian Dunkley, Regional Chair and President of FFWPU USA, offered greetings and recalled the many meaningful experiences at the Barrytown property that our Unificationist community shares.  

Dr. Walsh  followed with his expression of gratitude to all who played a role in the history of the Barrytown providence. He fondly recounted his personal experiences with Father Moon on the Barrytown property, and expressed thanks for the opportunity he was given to study at HJI. Dr. Walsh underscored that the Barrytown providence “is a history that is etched in the heart and soul of heaven, and it is forever there in the eternal accomplishment and victory of our True Parents. We are so indebted to our True Parents for giving us this property to use so purposefully and powerfully for our movement and God’s providence. […] We feel a tremendous responsibility to build on this unshakeable, unbreakable, and victorious foundation and take it further.”

Dr. Ward spoke movingly about the many precious memories he and many Unificationists enjoyed when Barrytown was a residential seminary. “All of us were prepared here for a public life. We received remarkable types of training in many specific areas.” He recounted that students were able to expand their hearts and minds through physical and intellectual training, including Tong-Il Moo Do training, contact with nature on Father’s trail, and memorable experiences fishing with True Parents on the Hudson River. He recalled the ecumenical and interfaith initiatives launched at Barrytown, recounted the many visits True Father made to Barrytown, and how Father revealed a very personable and vulnerable side of his character to them. Dr. Ward closed his remarks expressing enthusiasm for the current new chapter of HJI in which modern technology allows HJI to reach people worldwide.

Dr. Mickler, reflected on the rich history of the Barrytown property before the Unification movement purchased it in 1974, with towering figures associated with the property including Robert Livingston, Theodore Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller and the Christian Brothers. Dr. Mickler noted that “the major theme of this property is going out to impact the world. [..] Now our institution is moving out with the vision of transforming the world, [with] a whole new identity and a great mission.” However, importantly, Father’s Trail will be preserved with the sale of the building, so “the legacy and presence will always be at Barrytown.”

Dean Delaney shared her cherished experiences of God’s love through nature while residing on campus in the early 1990’s. She invited the audience “on a walk” through the Barrytown property. “Everyday you walk, you see nature is changing around you, […] but it is also always the same. There’s the same rock on the side, sometimes covered in grass, sometimes covered in ice, but it’s the same rock. […] It occurred to me that in nature with all these changes from the morning to the evening, from day to day, from months to months, from season to season, it’s always changing and always the same, and that is the same with God. […] We’re still the same, with the same vision Father had when he started the seminary, [which is now] HJI. ”

At the conclusion of the formal program, testimonies were shared on behalf of those in attendance. Dr. Franco Famularo, Chair of the HJI Board of Trustees, explained that he was personally asked by Father Moon in 1991 to attend UTS at Barrytown. He expressed his deep gratitude for the many meaningful experiences he enjoyed at the property, where he made life-long friendships that remain until today. Mrs. Marie Ang, who with her late husband Dr. Edwin Ang, served the Seminary for 17 years beginning in 1975, spoke of intimate experiences with True Parents during their frequent visits to Barrytown, and of the many projects she initiated while living there.

The program concluded with Dr. Walsh’s expression of hope for the vision and growth of HJI through the blessing and guidance of True Mother who is leading the institution to a new level of achievement and success.

To watch the recording please visit the HJI YouTube channel.