Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Paul Gassios Named New Orthodox Leader in Chicago and the Midwest

00 Gassios OCA bishop Chicago Midwest 01. 30.12.14


During a three-hour service rich in ceremony and symbolism, the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) consecrated a new bishop of Chicago and the Midwest to replace a predecessor who left in 2013 after accusations of sexual misconduct. The new bishop, Paul Gassios, 61, a Detroit native, will serve his first liturgy Sunday at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral, 1121 N Leavitt St., said Fr John Adamcio, dean of the cathedral. On Saturday, OCA leaders from across the nation and Canada participated in the consecration at Holy Trinity, led by Metropolitan Tikhon Mollard, the OCA First Hierarch based in New York. During the service, at a confession of faith, Bishop Paul said, “I promise to preserve the peace of the church, and firmly to hold and to teach with zeal the people entrusted to me”.

Bishop Paul fills the void left by Bishop Matthias Moriak, who retired after less than two years in the position at the request of the national church. The OCA placed him on administrative leave in August 2012, at which time he said he was accused of “unwelcome written and spoken comments to a woman that she regarded as an inappropriate crossing of personal boundaries”. Later, he blamed clergy for plotting his ouster in reaction to edicts he issued shortly after his arrival, which included limiting the role of women in worship and barring evening liturgies on Feast Days.

In 1794, Russian missionaries founded the precursor of the OCA in Alaska, but today it’s autonomous from other branches, including the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago. Adamcio said that the OCA claims about 20,000 to 30,000 members in the USA, including up to 2,500 in northern Illinois {this is an undercount: editor}, noting , “We believe the Orthodox Church to be the oldest manifestation of Christianity”.

On Saturday, about 250 people witnessed the consecration during a service designed to entice the senses, with the smell of incense thick within a sanctuary filled with colourful images of Christ and the saints. Congregants stood beneath a dome and above in a balcony, as the priests conducted ornate rites in vestments and mitres that represent their position within church hierarchy. Wreaths and candles reflected the Christmas holiday, and a chime sounded after every stanza of the proclamation of faith, or Nicene Creed, which begins, “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible”. Later, explaining that the services are intended to leave an impression, Adamcio said, “The Orthodox Church worships with all of the senses. We feel God is beauty. We try to give God the beauty to transport us to a place closer to God, and farther away from the world”.

Bishop Paul, who served as administrator for the Midwest diocese, was nominated as bishop in October. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1994, and formerly served at churches in Indiana, Ohio, and Missouri before relocating to Chicago.

27 December 2014

Lisa Black

Chicago Tribune



00 Gassios OCA bishop Chicago Midwest 02. 30.12.14


Today, Fr Paul Gassios, the former archpriest of St George Orthodox Cathedral in Rossford OH, will become bishop of the OCA Diocese of the Midwest in ceremonies that take place in Chicago. As bishop, he’ll oversee a diocese covering 11 states with 81 parishes. For Bishop-elect Paul, 61, the promotion in the church hierarchy follows other titles that have been bestowed on the man. He became an Igumen, or monk, in October, and he was promoted to Archimandrite, the step below bishop, when he became bishop-elect of the Diocese of the Midwest in August.

His demeanour suggests a man who will remain a humble priest. He said, “I think the paradox of the Christian life is that we come to be strong as Christians only through the paradox of acknowledging our weakness. It was hard for me to leave [Rossford], because I really grew to love the people of St George. I really love what the parish had become, [with] many cultural backgrounds united under one faith. We became an Orthodox Church in America, with Bulgarians, Macedonians, Russians, Romanians, and converts from other faiths. I came to love and appreciate the love and diversity of the people there”.

The bishop-elect’s schedule for the weekend includes a Vespers at 18.00 today at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago. On Saturday, the Consecration Divine Liturgy will start at 09.00 at the cathedral, with the Metropolitan Tikhon Mollard, Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of all America and Canada (sic), as the primary celebrant. A banquet will follow at Chicago’s Ukrainian Cultural Center. The first liturgy served by the the new Bishop Paul will take place at 09.30 on Sunday.

The Bishop Alexander Golitzin of Toledo was the acting bishop for the Midwest before Father Paul’s consecration. He said, “I was the chief ‘lobbyist’ for Fr Paul to be bishop. I knew he’d been a candidate both for my diocese and for before. I had the opportunity to watch him for two years… as it were, to take his measure… and I was impressed by his fundamental decency and humility and also by a genuine pastoral touch. I knew something of his background. He was a social worker in Detroit before he went to seminary, and he worked especially with broken children. I thought with all the horrors of the past 20 or 30 years regarding clerical abuse, this was a hopeful thing to have for someone in that position. I’m also doubly pleased in that now I’m free” (in being responsible for the diocese).

The men, who worked together at St George, will be colleagues, but their dioceses have different characters. Bishop Alexander is bishop of the ethnic Bulgarian Diocese of Toledo and became its bishop in 2012. Fr Paul said the Midwest Diocese is a geographic region, whilst Bishop Alexander’s Bulgarian Diocese is ethnic and covers all the USA and Canada. There is also an ethnic diocese for Romanians. Fr Paul said that serving at St George “helped to better prepare me for becoming a bishop. Because I was in an ethnic diocese and not a territorial diocese, it was good for me to learn that” difference in approach.

Bishop Alexander said he didn’t think Fr Paul would need his advice on leading the diocese, saying, “I think he knows well enough to keep his ears open and his mouth shut at least the first year or so”. Fr Paul noted, “Before I can plan anything, I first have to listen and learn. You need to talk two years from now to learn what my plan would be”. At St George, the new priest is Fr Nicholas Hubbard, “Fr Nick,” who has already begun his ministry there. Bishop Alexander said, “[Fr Nick] has energy, imagination. The parish is very good, but it’s small and it needs to grow in order simply to meet the bills. … I think we have an able young man, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he flowers”.

The OCA is one of 13 Eastern Orthodox churches and had about 85,000 adherents in 2011. The Midwest Diocese has parishes in 11 states, of which Ohio has the most, with 21. In addition to St George Cathedral, the diocese includes Holy Assumption Church in Marblehead OH and St Stephen the First Martyr Mission in Lima OH.

Fr Paul was born in Detroit, on 6 April 1953, and was baptised with the name Apostolos, in honour of the holy Apostle Paul, at Detroit’s Ss Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church. He graduated from Detroit’s Cooley High School and Wayne State University, where he majored in history and psychology. He received a master’s degree in social work from Wayne State in 1980. In the mid-1980s, Bishop-elect Paul became a member of Holy Transfiguration Church, Livonia MI, an OCA parish. He began theological studies in September 1991, at St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Yonkers NY, from which he received his master of divinity degree in 1994, and was ordained the same year. His assignments before St George Cathedral in Rossford included priest-in-charge of St Thomas the Apostle Church, Kokomo IN, residence at St Gregory Palamas Monastery, Hayesville OH, and rector of Archangel Michael Church, St Louis MO, and at the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Church, Desloge MO. On 20 October, he was tonsured to monastic rank with the name Paul, in honour of St Paul the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople.

26 December 2014

T K Barger

Toledo (OH) Blade



A local source sent me this:

Interesting comparisons to Moriak’s consecration in 2011… the banquet after Moriak’s consecration was held at a fancy restaurant taken over for the afternoon, tickets were 75 bucks. Today’s banquet today was at the Ukrainian Cultural Center, close to Holy Trinity Cathedral (run by the Ukie “Catholics”), cost 50 bucks/person, which is about standard for what a Chicago wedding reception costs, on the reasonable end.Moriak was consecrated at Christ the Saviour Church, right next to the Midwest Diocese’s office. Much larger altar area than Holy Trinity Cathedral (which was not built as a cathedral). Pics at the time showed the church was packed and held more people than the Cathedral ever could. Gassios was consecrated at Holy Trinity (which has a dinky altar area). From the looks of it, much fewer people were in attendance than at Moriak’s consecration. From what I’ve heard from Gassios himself (speaking at parishes) and seen of his writing, he’s a modest fellow (he calls himself a “dumpy little Greek”), although quite jolly. He’s not likely to cause many waves.

Let’s be blunt. All the konvertsy nutters showed up for Moriak’s investiture, whilst none of them showed up for Gassios’. It’s quite that simple. Gassios is reaching out to the REAL Orthodox… not to the konvertsy poseurs. I wish him well. The konvertsy love lionising questionable figures… Podmo, Royster, Paffso, Storheim, Moriak… and, for them, Seraphim Rose is close unto GOD. Yes, he’s being investigated by the MP for canonisation, but a Centre contact told me that it’s on the very rear burner, and “He won’t be glorified until the Platina monastery returns to the ROCOR”. Other grounded sources in the ROCOR and OCA repeated this to me, almost verbatim… IF he’s canonised, it won’t be until some considerable time passes, and the present brouhaha between the USA and Russia doesn’t help his chances one bit.

Ura! For Gassios… sanity DOES reign. The diocese needs peace and healing… it looks like its going to get that.



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