Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bishop Jonah Elected as New OCA Metropolitan

OCA Bishop JONAH delivers the homily at his consecration, November 1, 2008

H/T: Benedict Seraphim at the This is Life! blog

PITTSBURGH, PA [OCA Communications] — On Wednesday, November 12, 2008, His Grace, Bishop Jonah of Fort Worth was elected Archbishop of Washington and New York and Metropolitan of All America and Canada at the 15th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America.

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah was born James Paffhausen in Chicago, IL, and was baptized into the Episcopal Church. While still a child, his family later settled in La Jolla, CA, near San Diego. He was received into the Orthodox Church in 1978 at Our Lady of Kazan Moscow Patriarchal Church, San Diego, while a student at the University of California, San Diego. Later, he transferred to UC Santa Cruz, where he was instrumental in establishing an Orthodox Christian Fellowship.

After completing studies at UCSC, James attended St. Vladimir’s Seminary, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree in 1985 and a Master of Theology in Dogmatics in 1988.

He went on to pursue studies towards a Ph.D. at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, but interrupted those studies to spend a year in Russia.

In Moscow, working for Russkiy Palomnik at the Publishing Department of the Moscow Patriarchate, he was introduced to life in the Russian church, in particular monastic life. Later that year, he joined Valaam Monastery, having found a spiritual father in the monastery’s Abbot, Archimandrite Pankratiy. It was Archimandrite Pankratiy’s spiritual father, the Elder Kyrill at Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, who blessed James to become a priestmonk. He was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood in 1994 and in 1995 was tonsured to monastic rank at St. Tikhon’s Monastery, South Canaan, PA, having received the name Jonah.

Returning to California, Fr. Jonah served a number of missions and was later given the obedience to establish a monastery under the patronage of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco. The monastery, initially located in Point Reyes Station, CA, recently moved to Manton in Northern California, near Redding. During his time building up the monastic community, Fr. Jonah also worked to establish missions in Merced, Sonora, Chico, Eureka, Redding, Susanville, and other communities in California, as well as in Kona, HI.

In the spring of 2008, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America elevated Fr. Jonah to the rank of Archimandrite and he was given the obedience to leave the monastery and take on the responsibilities of auxiliary bishop and chancellor for the Diocese of the South.

Bishop Jonah’s episcopal election took place on September 4, 2008, at an extraordinary meeting of the Holy Synod of Bishops. Earlier in the summer, his candidacy was endorsed by the Diocese of the South’s Diocesan Council, shortly after Bishop Jonah had participated in the diocese’s annual assembly.

Bishop Jonah was consecrated Bishop of Forth Worth and Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of the South, at St. Seraphim Cathedral, Dallas, TX, on Saturday, November 1, 2008. Consecrating hierarchs included His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas and the South, Locum tenens of the Metropolitan See; His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania; His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West; and His Grace, Bishop Alejo of Mexico City and the Exarchate of Mexico.

Metropolitan Jonah will be installed by the OCA’s Holy Synod of Bishops at St. Nicholas Cathedral, Washington, DC, on December 28, 2008.

May the Lord bless His Beatitude, Jonah, newly-elected Metropolitan of All America and Canada with many years of fruitful service in His Holy Vineyard.

Eis polla eti, Despota!

I am personally delighted at this choice. While I have never met Bishop JONAH, I have heard several of his lectures on MP3 and have heard many, many great things about him from people who have met him. Not only has he lived a pious life, but he seems very humble and down-to-earth. IMHO, he will bring a fresh "outsider's" perspective to solving the OCA's problems and has the potential to bring healing and new growth to the OCA. May God grant him many years!


James the Thickheaded said...

Ditto. His piece on "Do not Respond, Do not React, seek inner peace"... together with the "notes"... suggests a very wise person has been selected. It is my hope his stewardship of the monastery into active growth suggests a good leader as well. So though on the outside as an Antiochian... I'd welcome it with a hearty Axios!

And hey... I'd wonder if he's the first convert, too as a US Metropolitan. If, so it's very encouraging to those of us converts.

Ballance said...

Glory to Jesus Christ! It's Good to hear all these positive comments about our new elected Metropolitan Jonah. Yet we must always be alert and not too open to receive someone with not many yearly credentials. We elected the Last metropolitan and now the new one. Lets see how things turn out before we start to be all happy and joyful. We also must remember he is a fallen human being like us and can still fall into sin. God willing he IS the man for the job and all goes well. I am usually a positive person, yet there needs to be some ballance with all these comments. Let us not be blinded, and keep a close eye on this new metroplitan. He has LOTS of POWER, lets see for the many years coming up how he does. I sure hope he does the will of our Father, and doesn't scew up, for if he does, may God have mercy on him.

~God grant him many years, health & salvation

Paul said...

Instead of hoping he doesn't screw up, why not pray for him and even help him and not just sit back and watch the show and be a judgemental armchair quarterback. I am sure he understands the consequences of the "talents" he has been given. More so than you or I. I would not want to be held accountable for what he now is by God. But, oh. I kinda am as are we all.

charlene said...

Father James,
Your piece on Bishop JONAH was filled with the same love, joy, peace, positiveness, and hope that I have come to expct to find in your articles. As one yet uninitiated into the Orthodox fold, some of what you said (and much of the comments) was over my head, so I have a few questions. #1 What is the Antiochian relationship to the OCA? #2 What, in a nutshell, are the OCA's perceived problems? #3 What makes Bishop Jonah an "outsider"? #4 What dies IMHO mean? #5 Why do we capitalize all letters in a bishop's consecrated name? #6 Will you answer my questions from Oct. 29th's blog when you get a chance. Thank you Father for your patience with my endless questions.
In Christ,

Fr. James Early said...


I am always happy to answer your questions. Here goes:

1. The Antiochian Archdiocese and the OCA are two parallel Orthodox "jurisdictions" in North America. Administratively, they are separate, but in matters of doctrine and practice they are unified. They are in full communion with each other. In fact, I have even served the Liturgy in an OCA parish whose pastor was out of town. There is a lot of history behind our not being administratively unified, but that would need a whole blog entry to explain. Ask Fr. Matthew sometime during catechumen class, or you can ask me during coffee hour. Or if another commmenter would like to explain this, feel free.

2. The main problem that the OCA has been facing in recent years is a financial scandal, in which some of the church's highest officers made off with a lot of the archdiocese's money. According to what I have read from reliable sources (I'm far from an expert on this), even the previous two Metropolitans were involved to some extent.

3. By an "outsider," I simply meant that Metropolitan JONAH was not a bishop during the years in which the financial misdeeds took place. Hence, he is the only current OCA bishop who is completely untainted by the scandal.

4. IMHO is an ancient Greek liturgical term first seen in the writings of the third century theologian St. John the Acronym-Coiner...nah, I'm just kidding. It means "In my humble opinion."

5. This is just an old tradition that I don't know how it got started; I presume that it is a way of honoring the bishops.

6. I'm sorry I have taken so long on this one; I was about to sit down and do it about a week ago, and then I got sidetracked and totally forgot. See that post.

By the way, there are readers of this blog (both laypersons and clergy) who have been Orthodox much longer than me, so if I have explained something inadequately, feel free to jump in and add something.

charlene said...

Father James,
Thank you for answering all my questions. You had me going on the ancient Greek liturgical term. I may have to get an update from my students on internet- speak terminology.

charlene said...

Father James,
Thank you for answering all my questions. You had me going on the ancient Greek liturgical term. I may have to get an update from my students on internet- speak terminology.