Fr. Hopko was baptized and raised in St. Mary's Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek-Catholic Church, Endicott, NY. He gained his B.A. in Russian Studies, Fordham University, 1960, followed by his M.Div., St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, in 1963. He then took an M.A. in Philosophy, Duquesne University, in 1968 and gained his Ph.D. in Theology, Fordham University, in 1982.
At St. Vladimir's Seminary, Hopko studied with such renowned Orthodox theologians as Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Fr. John Meyendorff, Nicholas Arseniev and Serge Verkhovskoy. He was ordained to holy presbyterate in 1963 and served several parishes in the states of Ohio and New York. In 1968 he began to teach at St. Vladimir's and eventually succeeded his teacher, Serge Verkhovskoy, as professor of dogmatic theology. He was made archpriest in 1970 and, upon his election as Dean, was elevated to the rank of Protopresbyter (1995).
Fr. Hopko is a prominent Orthodox Christian lecturer and speaker, well-known both in the Orthodox and ecumenical circles. He served as a member of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches and as a delegate from the Orthodox Church in America to the Assemblies of WCC in Uppsala, Sweden; and Nairobi, Kenya. He was also President of the Orthodox Theological Society in America (1992-1995).