Founder: St. Thomas Christians
‡The Most Rev. Joseph Vredenburgh, Th.D., Ph.D., D.D.
Catholicos-Patriarch of St. Thomas Christians
134 Dakota Ave., #308
Santa Cruz, California 95060
His Holiness Archbishop Joseph Vredenburgh, Th.D., D.D., Maran Mar Timotheus Josephus Narsai, Catholicos Patriarch—like all other religious leaders—underwent a religious transformation in being “Called” by God. Mar Joseph told me that he’d worked closely as Dean with the Founder of The Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch, Malabar Rite, Herman Adrian Spruit, Ph.D., Archbishop-Patriarch. What Arcbbishop Spruit observed of the religiousity of Mar Joseph was written by him as follows:
The Radius and the Tangent: an Introduction
“This is a first opportunity for the whole of this Church of Antioch to make the acquaintance with a true and inspired pedagogue, Dr. Joseph L. Vredenburgh, author and teacher…and Dean of the Sophia Divinity School. The arrival of one of such generous dimensions calls for a proper welcome and introduction, privilege to be discharged with pleasure at this time.
The fact that he is a most unusual, gifted, talented, spiritual and gracious person, is more than a twice told tale. For one of the rich blessings bestowed upon us that he stands tall, as tall as all our Bishops—imaginative, eager, seasoned, informed, talented and love filled personalities. Thus Dr. Joseph comes into our circle as another remarkable addition to our round table of progressive, inventive and creative minds. He will be right at home with his kinfolk in this extension of spiritual realizations
Yes, some formal facts are in order! He holds the responsibility of Presiding Bishop of the Federation of Saint Thomas Christians, Exarch of the Order of Antioch, and Chancellor of the College of Seminarians of the American Apostolic University. His story of his life tells of several pastorates in churches and denominations on both sides of the ecumenical watershed. Academic accreditations and recognitions stretch out into a long line, touching a number of territories and principalities as long as my forearm. As College President, Seminary Dean, Professor and Director of a Graduate School, we would have to follow him from New Jersey to California, to the University of Samoa. His formal expertise has been established in a variety of areas of scholarship that we were unable to offer him as a ‘Chair of This’ or a ‘Chair of That’ discipline. He was elected Dean, and thus gave him the right to occupy an entire bench. Think of any legitimate subject a Seminary should rightfully communicate to fit its students, and Bishop Vredenburgh could authoritatively teach every one of them.
By his consent and our invitation he is also an Archbishop of this Church and with the other Archbishops in the Patriarchate a senior member of this body. To come under his tutelage, even occasionally is one of those fine privileges that happens only rarely in a lifetime. To share in the collegiality and connectionalism of our Episcopate is pure joy. As we slip an arm into one of such right, we relish in a sense of partnership that binds us together in Christian love.
As a send-off into his Apostolic labors among us and as Captain of that ship that will take you on this first course in Christian philosophy, this introduction is a given. Even now there are some factors in Dean Vredenburgh’s life that stand out and which prove that he should be the one to assume this Deanship and to handle this course on Basic Christian Philosophy. Even though we have agreed that these seven factors might be basic as we contemplate him appreciatively; there are many more that crowd into our mind.
- He shows an awareness of the fact that he knows and understands that the Great Religious Transformation is already upon us and that it has began to change drastically the culture patterns of this Earth. There is no possibility of retreat into former days and erstwhile ways. The Lord Christ is among us and He is making all things new.
- I sense an awareness in him—of the fact that Myth is the mirror opposite of history—that Myth does not show us the ego of a civilization but the story of its soul.
- He is not an ecclesiastical technician, as most churchmen, particularly Bishops, usually become. Technicians are forever locked into the perspectives of their own expertise. They have been trained, not educated. Like trained seals they are unable to interpret the world except through the bias of their training. Technicians, eventually, degenerate into experts who project their pet theories in several directions and try to force everything upon a grid. The Creative Scientist, which we know our Dean to be, knows how to take up the old anomalies and irregularities to shape them into better patterns and paradigms.
- Whatever Basic Christian Philosophy will achieve for the student, it will help her/him to comprehend that Truth is not a propositional statement—it is a performance. It does not equate with mathematics but with music, art, and poetry and drama. It is like a flight into boundless space.
- Many of our distinguished contemporaries, even men and women of the Cloth are like ants crawling across a beautiful painting, like Jon Styka’s Crucifixion. About all we can expect them to see is a succession of changes. They fail to get a sense of the whole painting. Not so with Bishop Joseph! Long before we have absorbed this Basic Philosophy of Christianity he will have shared us with a total relationship within the structure of a holistic sum.
- It is ever a teacher’s task to offer adequate and accurate descriptions. And it is the function of a teacher to make every description complete. But the best teachers know something of the frustration that, by its very nature, a description can never be total. There is always more than has been seen, that a description is a limited thing. It is a map and not a territory. We anticipate that in all the exposures to his heart and mind, Bishop Vredenburgh will not only treat us to a masterpiece, but also to the settings in which they rest. Why, after all, is Raphael’s Madonna and Child apart from the Zwinger.
- Joe Vredenburgh knows, of this I am sure, that the Universe is not a black box containing floating bits left over from the ‘Big Bang’ explosion. It is a consciousness saturated solution. Mind is not merely located in the human skull; animal, vegetable and mineral forms are alive…that we will never see the rise of one, single universal religion, but that we see the future bring on the great thaw, the melting of the rigid ice of the Church into the living waters of a new and sacred way of life.
All this may not have been the best we might have said about the Dean and Bishop, but it is our best perception of him. Where we have not spoken with sufficient feeling of appreciation, we look forward to the day when our perspectives have been clarified. Our association with him will help us to bring this about.”
‡ Herman Adrian Spruit, Ph.D.
Archbishop-Patriarch of the Church of Antioch
President of Sophia Divinity School.
‡The Most Reverend Herman Adrian Spruit, 1911-1994
Mar Joseph Vredenburgh, Th.D., Ph.D., D.D.
- Saugerties High School, Saugerties, NY. Graduated 1955.
- Union College, B.A. in Humanities and Psychology.
- New Brunswick Theological Seminary, New Brunswick, NJ. Bachelor of Divinity, 1958.
- Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. M.S. in Counseling Psychology, 1960.
- Fairleigh Dickinson University, Rutherford, NJ. Counseling Psychology, 1961.
- Lebanon Valley College, Lebanon, PA. Education—teaching credentials, 1964.
- University of California. Education 1965-1967.
- American Apostolic University, D.D. granted by Abp. Exarch Howard E. Mather, 1960. St. Andrew’s Pastoral Institute, Orlando, FL. Doctor of Christian Service granted by Abp. Mar Ignatius Andrew, Brian Glen Turkington, Ph.D. (also of the Federation of St. Thomas Churches).
- St. Luke’s Seminary, Chandler, AZ. Ph.D. in Religion.
- St. Ephraim’s Institute, Solna, Sweden. Granted D.D. by Abp. Bertil Persson, 1981.
- College of Seminarians, Doctor of Theology granted by Abp. Howard E. Mather. Dissertation: “The Aramaic Origins of the Christian Church.”
- Biblical Technical Institute, Las Vegas, NV. Doctorate.
- Gnostic University, Tampa, FL. Doctor of Theology, granted by Abp. Sar Mar Roberto Toca, Th.D., D.D.
Marta' Virginia was born on Thanksgiving--it is well noted that she truly shares dedication and Universal Love to all that she meets. In regards to her own Spiritual Journey, she states: I am thankful for the wonderful happy adventures that I have experienced. My father was known as 'happy Harry'. His inheritance to me was to enjoy every day. My slogan is: the best is yet to come. Aloha.
Marta' Virginia says that her Dad lived with her and Mar Joseph until he passed over at ninety-four. She personally took care of him throughout all of those years. He had Alzheimer's and he said to others, about his daughter: this is the nice lady who takes care of me.
As an Archbishop, during the Qurbana [Mass] with Dr. Joe, Marta' Virginia holds the energy ; she 'holds' with steady, pure, committed integrity to others and to God.
She graduaed from Rider College in Trenton, NJ with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration; with an M.A. from the College of Seminarians in Wilmington, DE in 1958. Her thesis was 'Women and Religion'. She earned a Doctorate in Divinity, and an A.A.D. for her Spiritual Devotion which was granted by Abp. Herman Spruit at his Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch, Malabar Rite's Sophia Divinity School.
She met Mar Joseph in 1955 during his first year as a Seminary student when he worked with Church youth in Brunswick, NJ. She said: he had just come out of summer stock theatre and had long hair to fit the role. I was singing in the Choir, and he had this deep Shakespearean voice when he read the Bible, and he made me laugh. We went to New York City on New Year's Eve to hear Norman Vincent Peale. When we got home, he said: 'I like being with you'.; it was leap year, and I answered: 'Oh, does that mean that you want to marry me'? We got married in Woodstock, NY on March 16, 1956.
They will be married fifty years in 2006. Marta' Virginia is a vast writer, stating that she'd kept a journal for seventy years: I used to write in shorthand; everything was kept in it. When we went to Samoa, we put our things into storage. When we came back, everything was gone. We were serving the Congregational Church in Santa Rosa, CA, and we went to Samoa twice (in Easter of 1977 and 1978). I taught school to the Samoans--English, bookeeping and typing. There was no language exchange; I didn't understand Samoan and they didn't know English. I used a combination of sign language, visuals and repeats. My biggest prize is my Samoan son-in-law, Tifaga Aiona. Margo, our daughter, met him in Samoa when she was eighteen years old. They've been married for over twenty years now.
My regular job was Employment Counselor for the State of New Jersey--and then in California for both Santa Rosa and also Santa Cruz for twenty years. We are Naturalist volunteers. We were at Ano Nuevo where we gave tours when the elephant seals came in. And, also we were volunteers for the blue herons at Atascadero; and now we're volunteering with helping the butterflies in Santa Cruz.
They both also volunteer with helping as voting assistants during elections.
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