Voices from Russia

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Archbishop Gabriel de Vylder of Comana Retired for Health Reasons

00 Archbishop Gabriel de Vylder. 17.01.13


On 15 January, Archbishop Gabriel de Vylder of Comana, the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Exarchate in Western Europe (EP), the successor of Metropolitans Yevlogy Georgievsky and Vladimir Tikhonitsky, Archbishops Georgi Tarasov, Georgi Wagner, and Sergei Konovalov, retired for health reasons). The title “Comana” refers to an ancient defunct EP diocese, where St John Chrysostom died in exile in the early 5th century. At present, Comana is in Abkhazia.

Guido de Vylder was born in 1946 in Belgium, in a noble Flemish Catholic family. Being the eldest son, he was, according to local custom, supposed to have entered the employ of his father’s company, but instead he entered Catholic seminary, and, then, the University of Louvain. He converted to Orthodoxy in 1974, during his seminary years. De Vylder became a priest in 1976, and a bishop from 2001. Since 2003, Archbishop Gabriel has been the First Hierarch of the EP Russian Exarchate in Western Europe. Archbishop Gabriel was one of many Orthodox Christians in the West who converted in adulthood. Among them are bishops… Archbishop Mark Arndt of Berlin (ROCOR), and Metropolitan Tikhon Mollard, the First Hierarch of the OCA… and there are many others besides. In 1999, then-Archimandrite Gabriel, together with Archbishop Sergei Konovalov, visited Russia and was present at the consecration of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. Thus, for the first time after many years, a Russian bishop of the EP Exarchate served with the Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias.

After ten years of service as First Hierarch of the Exarchate, Archbishop Gabriel ordained many deacons and priests, and he created a number of new parishes. The exarchate has a two-fold mission… one is to see to the spiritual care of both the Russian émigré community and newer Russian immigrants, another is to act as a mission to Western Europe. At present, about half of the parishes serve in Slavonic, and the other half serve in local Western European languages. The Russian Exarchate in Western Europe claims to remain faithful to the Russian liturgical tradition.

On 8 January 2013, Archbishop Gabriel submitted a formal request to the Patriarch of Constantinople for leave to retire due to serious illness. On 15 January, Patriarch Bartholomew named Metropolitan Emmanuel, the Greek Metropolitan France, as locum tenens of the exarchate. He will head the diocese until the election for a new ruling bishop in May 2013. Archbishop Gabriel returned to his home in Maastricht (the Netherlands) and remains in treatment. In a pastoral letter issued before his retirement, he wrote, “I treasure the freedom in the Church and the universal nature of the Orthodox Faith; I’ve tried to keep the example of my predecessors as First Hierarch of this Diocese … my last words to you are a request that you should remain in love and unity, there isn’t anything more precious than our Church”.

17 January 2013





17 January 2013. Services for Sophia Ulitin (Leonid Kishkovsky’s Mother)

00 Vechnaya Pamyat... Memory Eternal


Services for Sophia Ulitin

Funeral Service

Thursday, 17 January 2013

19.30 EST


Friday, 18 January 2013

10.00 EST

Followed by burial at Roslyn Cemetery

Please… no flowers


Church of Our Lady of Kazan

Willow Shore Avenue

Sea Cliff NY 11579


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