Archbishop Alexander (Golitzin) was born in Burbank, CA in 1948 and raised attending Saint Innocent Church, Tarzana, CA. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley and a Master of Divinity degree from Saint Vladimir’s Seminary. He spent seven years pursuing doctoral studies at Oxford University in England. His doctoral work on Dionysios the Areopagite was supervised by Bishop Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia. During his doctoral studies, Golitzin also spent two years in Greece, including one year at Simonos Petras Monastery on Mount Athos. His time at Simonos Petras, under the guidance of its archimandrite, Elder Aimilianos (Vafeidis), was decisive in shaping his understanding of mystical experience. In his own words, on Mount Athos he found that “the holy man was not a distant ideal or a literary topos — something out of an eight-century manuscript or a Paleologian icon — but a reality.” 

After receiving his D. Phil. from Oxford, he returned to the USA, where he was ordained to the diaconate and later the priesthood. In 1986, he was tonsured to monastic orders by the Elder Aimilianos at the monastery of Simonos Petras and received the monastic name of Alexander. 

In 1989, Golitzin took up a permanent faculty position in the Theology Department at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where, over the next two decades, he established himself as a leading expert on Jewish and Christian mysticism. Although widely known for his groundbreaking scholarship, he also became an exceptional teacher who was able to mentor a large cohort of doctoral students during his time at Marquette. He was particularly helpful to those students who came to Marquette University from the Eastern Orthodox tradition by giving them a clearer understanding of their own theological and spiritual legacy. He retired in 2012.

On Saturday, May 5, 2012, he was consecrated Bishop of Toledo and the Bulgarian Diocese during a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at Saint George Orthodox Cathedral in Rossford, Ohio. On March 30, 2016, he was elected Bishop of Dallas, the South and the Bulgarian Diocese. During the 2017 Spring Session of the Holy Synod, he was elevated to the rank of Archbishop.

Part I: Interview with Archbishop Alexander

Watch the following interview with Vladyka Alexander about why college students should study the Church Fathers and what we can learn from St. Dionysios specifically.

Part II: Discussion Questions

  1. What does Vladyka Alexander say about the problems that the Church Fathers address in comparison to modern times? How does this affect our ability to read and study their works?
  2. What did you take away from what Vladyka shared about the fact that St. Dionysios sometimes called Pseudo-Dionysios? 
  3. What is your understanding of hierarchy? How do the modern connotations of the word fit with or contradict how St. Dionysios describes it?
  4. How does Vladyka suggest that college students go about reading St. Dionysios? How are his writings and teachings applicable to our daily lives?

Closing Prayer

Illumine our hearts, O Master Who lovest mankind, with the pure light of Thy divine knowledge. Open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of Thy gospel teachings. Implant also in us the fear of Thy blessed commandments, that trampling down all carnal desires, we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well-pleasing unto Thee. For Thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thy Father, Who is from everlasting, and Thine all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.