Would You Want Your Son to be a Priest?

Things seem to have quieted down on the Bishop Mark Maymon front. The overwhelming number of respondents believe that his name should be removed from consideration for Bishop of the South by a margin of two-to-one. Nothing more needs to be said on this so we at Monomakhos are going to retire that poll.

Instead, we are starting a new one. The issue du jour seems to be the Sex Czar and whether this position will be a boon for the OCA or an albatross around its neck. My personal belief is that should this position be ratified, then demoralization will set in among the priests. This would lead to a decrease in vocations and a spike in early retirements.

I could be wrong. That’s why I’m starting this survey. Please take the time to answer a few basic questions:

If the OCA appoints a Sex Czar, would you want to become a priest? Would you want your son or a relative to be a priest? And would you recommend the priesthood to someone else? The only answers allowed are “Yes,” “No,” or “Not Sure.”

Thank you


  1. abercius says

    What about the most basic question: should the OCA appoint such a “Czar”? Does it need such an office?

  2. Should female respondents not vote in the first question, or vote as if they were male and eligible for the priesthood?

    • Helga, I didn’t actually think about that. Thanks for pointing it out. I can’t really forbid anybody from voting on all three questions but my overall take on the readers of this blog is that most of the women I have as readers would know not to respond to the first question. I guess what I’m trying to say is that no matter how bad things seem to be at times in Orthodoxy, we don’t have to fight the priestess thing like some of the other denominations.

    • All right Helga!

  3. I have forbidden my sons from considering the priesthood. Luckily, they are listening so far.

    • Joel Grigsby says

      Are you saying the church should do without all new priests, or that only other people’ s sons should be martyrs in the next generation? Not facicious, truly confused. You’re Good Guys wear black, after all. Sounds like helping men discern vocations. Here, you imply there are no valid new vocations.

      • Joel, frankly, yes. I know how much suffering goes into the priesthood, often at the hands of fellow clergy and vicious parishioners. My sons have already endured a great deal of this. They’ve done their part – they do not need to feel obligated to follow daddy’s footsteps.

        If they have a real calling, nothing will dissuade them. If not, they won’t have to worry about what I want them to do. I do not want them being bullied by sodomites, alcoholics or children of alcoholics – with all their neuroses. If they do, they will come in on their own accord, with their eyes open to the realities of the priesthood.

        I do want to encourage young men who are discerning a vocation – not young men in general. As St. John Chrysostom puts it, the priesthood is forbidden to all women and most men. If a man has a vocation, I’m supportive. Ask the men in my parishes who are now clergy, or preparing for it. But they came in with their eyes wide open. In fact, I think it inspired them to know the reality up front.

        In this case, I am speaking as a father, not a priest, and I’m allowed to have a father’s opinion on this.

        • Father John, as the son of the priest myself your advice to your sons is wise. I was always proud of my Father and how he maintained his integrity in the face of some of the most horrible behavior I have ever seen but he would have been sad had I chosen to follow him into the priesthood. I will always thank my Father for never hiding the struggles he faced from me. He was my biological father and spiritual father although he insisted that another priest always hear my confessions. Now that he has passed away I find myself with a tremendous spiritual void in my life that I have yet to replace. I see now that as a married priest supporting a family that my dad was more ascetic than any monastic I have ever met. What an example he was to me.

          And if you think our bishops behavior could not be bad allow me to tell you of the bishop who insisted my dad kick up a percentage of any gitfs he received to him Tony Soprano Style. Despite this he still found a way to ensure I received a first rate education.

          • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

            Dear Andrew,
            May I have your father’s name,so that I may remember him at Proscomedia? No need to mention family name nor jurisdiction;I wouldn’t want to be led into temptation by trying to guess the identity of that unfortunate bishop.I recommend prayers for that bishop;if he’s alive,that God would enlighten him,if not,that God have mercy on his soul.
            I had no such experiances with hierarchs,just with one parish council president,who felt he was entitled to 20% of my pay for baptisms,etc;like a server in a restaurant,as he put it.I think he may have shaken down the choirmaster as well.God removed him from the Parish Council for health reasons and about 4 years ago, he departed this life(I do pray for him).
            It’s rather ironic that at times I’ve been labeled a “Protestant” by fellow clergy for saying that one can’t always follow the bishop 100% in everything NO MATTER WHAT.This president ran roughshod over the parish because no one would stand up to him;ignoring directives from the bishop,etc;yet I didn’t hear any talk of Protestantism then.

            Your late father sounds like the genuine article;the type of priest I should have been.May God grant him eternal memory!

          • Andrew, this stuff needs to be exposed. Ultimately, the problem resides within the episcopate and corrupt men lorded it over your father. Orthodoxy will never progress until a catharsis happens first, and catharsis cannot happen without repentance.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      My answers are Yes, yes, and yes. First if all, this is a calling from the Lord God himself and nobody, not even parents, can gainsay God. As His Grace would say, what an idea! Second, it is preposterous to think that the existence of an Investigator of Clergy Sexual Misbehavior would cause anyone to turn down His calling. Frankly, if anyone does, that he is not worthy to become a priest anyway. Again, what an idea!

      • Orthodox Americans more and more succumb to the Roman and Protestant concept of vocation/calling. In a way, it’s like their concept of Biblical inspiration. An Angel, or even God Himself comes down and whispers or shouts into a young man’s ear: “I am CALLING YOU to become a Priest!” Unfortunately, there’s no way to verify that anyone’s claim to “have a calling directly from God” is more than an exaggeration of an inclination towards getting ordained.
        Callings DO come from God, from our Lord Jesus Christ AS the Church. Men don’t call themselves, nor are they mysteriously summoned through inspired impulses. They are called by the Church, be it the parish council, a Deacon, a Sunday School teacher, a Priest—-whatever. And if a man has not been called by the Church or anyone in it to be ordained, he does NOT “have a vocation.” It’s almost blood-curdling to hear a man say, “I’m going to go to the Seminary and FIND OUT if i have a vocation!” Or to see an advertisment or flyer that shouts: “Do YOU have a vocation? Come and talk it over, let’e find out!”
        And, “Oh, I feel CALLED!”

        • Your Grace, have you ever considered making your comments in the form of YouTube videos?

        • Monk James says

          Once, a long time ago, the bishop asked me if I had ever considered becoming a priest. I told him that I hadn’t, so he asked why not, to which I replied that I never felt ‘called’ to the priesthood.

          After a few more increasingly frustrating exchanges, the bishop banged his cup on his desk, spilling coffee all over some papers I then had to retype, and yelled ‘I’M THE BISHOP! I DO THE CALLING AROUND HERE!!

          So I said, ‘Okay, then, ordain me. That’ll be your sin, but God will bless me for my obedience.’

          He didn’t bring up the subject again.

          • Well, Monk James. Don’t be coy. What Bishop was that? Archbishop John (Garklavs)? Archbishop Cyprian (Borisevich)? All he asked you was about your thoughts. You made a statement which could be translated as, “That’s my business, not yours.” It must have seemed incredibly self-absorbed of you, from the bishop’s point of view, to retort in that way. One can only imagine the amount of stubborn arguing you must have thrown in his face before he had had enough. I’d especially like to know the name for my memoirs. I’ve heard a lot about and know a lot about bishops past and present, but this is the first recorded instance of a bishop YELLING. And a bishop who had just yelled at you and struck the desk with his coffee cup and then simply subsided into a cowed silence after your brilliant riposte: “Okay, then, ordain me. That’ll be your sin, but God will bless me for my obedience.” !!!!
            You actually said out loud what God would do? You actually conferred God’s blessing on yourself?
            The Bishop didn’t say, according to your comment, that he WANTED to ordain you. If he did say so, then let us know. Why would he say such a thing….any ideas? Yet, you said he should go ahead and ordain you whereupon he’d be judged a sinner? By the way, I don’t give my own messages here a “thumbs-up”. It seems rather craven.

            • Monk James says

              Why should I name the bishop? Just so he can be excoriated here along with me?

              This was not Abp John, but another bishop who was my superior at the time. He and I had a very frank, no-nonsense, very direct way of speaking with each other, and the conversation which I accurately related earlier was not out of character for us.

              I regret offending anyone’s sensitivities with the anecdote.

            • Your grace, I am surprised you have received any “thumbs up” for this post of yours. It appears that Monk James is prudent enough not to divulge the name of the bishop. That is his business, not yours. IMO, which I realize isn’t worth much, your criticism of his post is completely unwarranted.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          Your Grace–I was referring to the “calling” itself and not to how it happens.I suppose it could happen in the ways that you listed but I am surprised that you reject a direct calling from the Holy Spirit, the Lord or His saints. In any case, I am glad that you replied to my posting as I noticed that my reply may be misread: I was responding hypothetically to a hypothetical question. I am not eligible to become a deacon or a priest, therefore I was responding as a hypothetical eligible person.

    • Jim of Olym says

      Fr. Sergei Glagolev comes from a long line of priests. However he is the last of the line. I could mention several other ‘priestly’ families that are in the way of dying out. What has changed in the Orthodox Church that sons of priests no longer seem to consider this as a vocation?

      • Reader James, after the time of Peter the Great, clergy became, more or less, an “estate” (that’s a euphemism: more accurate would be “caste”) in Russia. Sons of clergy had to go first of all to religious schools. They were expected to attend seminaries, which the sons of families from other castes (military, for example, or civil service) could not. Russian Priests by the nineteenth century were almost always the sons of Priests, or Deacons, or Subdeacons, “Ponomars”, etc. That Father Sergei was the latest in a long line of clergy was still conventional according to the era of his birth, although there were cracks in the caste system by the latest years of the Empire. I very much (and frequently) recommend Professor Gregory Freeze’s excellent and insightful book: “THE RUSSIAN LEVITES: Parish Clergy in the Eighteenth Century”, Harvard University Press. My edition/printing is 1999, but I’m sure what ever’s available on Amazon is more recent. He’s also very good on the introduction of the novelty of theological schools into the Church and how the Faithful reacted to getting Priests that not only didn’t come from their own community, but whose “only qualification” was that they attended “some school” in the faraway capital!”

  4. M. Stankovich says

    The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

    “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

    “Ah, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.”

    But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. (Jer 1:4ff)

    Listening to some calls cannot be forbidden, and some calls must be heeded. And some good guys wear black.

  5. I do not believe anyone who is not already demoralized will become so because someone was appointed to a position. Priesthood is not easy and people need to understand that both potential candidates and the lay people who they will serve. Some lay people need to look long and hard at they way they treat the priest that has been sent by the bishop to be their shepherd in his place. That is right sent by the bishop, not hired, the priest is not an employee of the parish he is the bishops representative in that parish.

    What is far more demoralizing then any sex czar could ever be is the lack of respect for some clergy by both the bishops and by the lay people. I have heard countless stories of bishops siding with the lay people over an issue with a priest or a bishop removing a priest simply to put some crony of his in the parish. This is the unholy nonsense that needs to STOP, that is what is demoralizing the priesthood.

    And to my brother clergy, you need to respect the lay people that God has entrusted to you to lead and to shepherd. Your number one responsibility is their spiritual welfare and that is it. We all know that we will be held accountable on judgement day for what we have done and what we have not done. If you have a problem with your zipper then you need to get help and get it fast. Every time one of you does something that will require a position of sex czar you are damaging God’s Holy Church and your soul and the soul of the people you have been entrusted with. If you have issues then seek out a spiritual father or a counselor or leave the priesthood and make room for a truly spiritual person. It is you guys that are demoralizing the priesthood, you and the bishops who cover it up. Time for us to get a very large broom and start to sweep.

    Lay people, if you suspect your priest is having a problem, do him and the church a favor, and call the bishop after you call the local authorities. The time has come for this sort of nonsense to stop, even one is too many in my book. Priest are called to a level of holiness that far surpasses that of the laity, if you cannot hang with that guys then find another occupation we have no time for your nonsense.

    Sorry to rant but it is time we start telling the truth. Its not the position that is demoralizing it is the need for the position that is. Time to start teaching and preaching what the Orthodox Church has taught and preached for more than 2,000 years. If you don’t like it then there are plenty of churches out there where you can make it up as you go along. We have found the true faith! Now it has to mean something.

    • Amen, Father Peter!

      As a lay person, I especially second your comment about the disgraceful way some of us treat our priests. Be he holy, good, and competent or sinful, selfish, and utter buffoon, he is the image of Christ in our midst; and our behavior toward him is a direct reflection of the degree of reverence we have toward Christ Himself.

    • AMEN, Fr. Peter!

  6. I don’t think the +Mark Maymon saga is over. In the DOS, the Assembly will be considering two people: One whose theology and canonicity is questionable and another who made some people mad, but is apparently is quite orthodox in his Orthodoxy. As far as I know neither has done anything illegal (the e-mails were left on a Chancellery device and legal for the leadership to access; distributing them may be questionable, but not illegal). Whoever is elected, someone’s going to be really mad.

    • Why only two? Are there no other qualified candidates in all of American Orthodoxy? Why are we choosing from one with questionable theology (your words) and one that has made people mad? Is this the best the church has to offer?

      • I think thats the way it is…here in Jacksonville there are people who want Bishop Mark .

      • Father bless.

        Fr. Peter, the two seem to be are Bishop +Mark (Maymon) and Abbot +Gerasim (Elial).

      • Fr Peter,

        If Fr. Gerasim is not fit to serve as a bishop in the OCA what makes anyone think that +Mark Maymon is fit? The test ballon of offering his name as Rector of STS was shot down by their Board of Trustees. It was a laughable suggestion and the wiser minds (both clergy and laity) on the STS Board saw right through it. The OCA is stuck with +Mark and they don’t know what to do with him.

        Some are suggesting that if the Lord calls Bishop Nikon, who is in failing health, that +Mark would be the choice for NE. I think that there are enough people in the DOS and other places who would rise up and wish to defend our sister diocese from making such a choice. Of course it would be up to the NE diocese to nominate whomever they choose but I would think that +Mark’s record will follow him and that at least this website will offer them enough information of which there is more not yet disclosed, so that they can make a fully informed choice.

        As one news outlet likes to say, “We report You decide.”

        • StephenD says

          If Archbishop Nikon is called by the Lord and Bishop Mark becomes the Bishop of New England I predict we will see most of the Albainian parishes go under the Ecumenical Patriarch..there already are a few Albanian parishes under the EP…is this what the EP wants? Everything seems to be falling into place in the EP’s favor..I pray I am wrong..

          • George Michalopulos says

            It is quite possible that the entire affair regarding Bp Mark has now degenerated into a stalking horse for Phanariote control of the OCA. How so? If Bp Mark is indeed elected as Bishop of Dallas, it will severely weaken the DOS, causing an exodus of parishioners and even parishes into ROCOR. (Of all the dioceses in the OCA, the DOS is closest in orthopraxy to ROCOR so it wouldn’t be too much of a jump. In fact, not many of us care about the calendar as it is now. If it makes us further out of reach with the more modernist jurisdictions, so be it.)

            Anyway, revenues to Syossett, which is probably the second biggest monetary contributor to Syossett, from the DOS would dry up in due time.

          • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

            The Albanian Archdiocese is totally seperate from the Diocese of New England.It just so happens that Archbishop Nikon is hierarch of both,just as the late Archbishop Kyril was bishop both of the Bulgarian diocese and that of Pittsburgh-Western PA.There is no guarantee that the next bishop of New England will automatically head the Albanian Archdiocese as well.

        • Any priest that would vote for Maymon is a complete idiot and deserves him. All you need to do is look at what he did: With malice of forethought and complete illegality entered into someone else’s personal email which is a federal crime (see the recent cases regarding Sarah Palin and Mitt Romeny) and then shared the contents with others. He has made himself and his intentions known and priests should pay attention to that.

    • Me,

      + Mark Maymon is an immoral poser. The emails account was NOT the property of the DOS. They were the personal email account of Fr. Fester. The fact that they were synced up on the device that belonged to the DOS does not and did not give Maymon the right to read them nor to distribute them. They were not and are not the property of the DOS. His record in the AOCA is very questionable and his pattern of always being the victim underscores some serious psychological issues.

      +Mark was the main source of information while he was in the AOCA against Met. Philip. He fed Stokoe all the inside information. He was out to get rid of +Philip. He was so bad a bishop that +Philip totally reorganized the Archdiocese to rid himself of +Mark. +Mark refused to accept another diocesan assignment. Then when he comes to the OCA he refuses to go to a monastery for some time to recover from his war vs. +Philip. He refused the advice of Met. Jonah, his bishop, and went to Dallas. Why? Because he needed the money.

      He promptly offended large numbers of faithful in Dallas, worked hand in hand with those OCA bishops that wanted to put +Jonah in a alcholol rehab center and then while spying for months on the email account of Fr. Fester mounted a campaign to have Fr. Joseph deposed. Based on what long-time knowledge of the OCA, DOS or Fr. Fester did this man think he had the right to do these things. The Cathedral in Dallas is still tending to the wounds inflicted by +Mark.

      This same man has been sucking at the tit of the DOS taking money from Bp. Nikon and Milos Konjevich to maintain his lifestyle in Florida. He continues to actively campaign for the See of Dallas pumping up those in Florida to make sure his name is considered at the DOS Assembly in July. This man has NO standing in the DOS, yet he considered it his right to be taking money indirectly from the DOS to this very day.

      Now, the hatchet job being done on Fr Gersasim by a venemous and angry old man on the Orthodox Forum who is a member of the DOS parish in North Carolina is typical of that group. Fr. Gerasim has be open and answered all questions addressed to him as he tours the Diocese. As for +Mark, he only apologized to the Cathedral in Dallas after he was guilted into it by the DOS Diocesan Council and that apology was about as sincere as a $3 bill. And, to this date he has not apologized to Fr. Fester for his immoral spying on him and then using his pal Mark Stokoe to twist things to both Marks advantage.

      You have been fed a serious line of bull by the Maymonites. He had no right to Fr. Fester’s emails. What is more dangerous is that he believes he did nothing wrong while he was the Administrator of the DOS. Again he is the poor victim. If you really believe that, then good for you but bad for the DOS and the OCA.

      Let’s be clear, if the Synod of the OCA is so out of touch that they elect +Mark Maymon as ruling bishop of the DOS, you will see an exodus of laity and a good number of clergy leave. It is your right to support him or even vote for him at the Assembly, but you will be doing a great dishonor to the memory of Archbishop Dmitri who said of +Mark “it is as if the man has no soul.”

      Lord, have mercy on the OCA if +Mark Maymon ever becomes a ruling bishop again.

      • I’ve been in corporate America since before there was e-mail. When we got e-mail capability, we had yearly training from the legal departments stating that if we used company equipment to send personal e-mail, 1) the corporate records management policy required that it be maintained according to the records management policy and 2) there is no legal expectation of privacy if one uses corporate equipment for personal business. I have had the opportunity of speaking with both men in question. +Gerasim is , in my opinion, not mature enough for the position.

        I’d rather have as Bishop someone who has a little ethical baggage (after all, who doesn’t?) than one about whom there are serious ongoing questions about canonicity and orthodoxy..

        • Carl Kraeff says

          Me–You keep making the thinly veiled charge that “there are serious ongoing questions about canonicity and orthodoxy” of Father Gerasim. I disagree with you 100% on the substance of your charges. I also condemn the way that you are making your accusations, which you should back up with facts. What you have said, in effect, is that not only Father Gerasim should not be our next Bishop but that he also is not a canonical Eastern Orthodox priest. I am open to your evidence and arguments but I cannot stand by and let you tar and feather this good Orthodox priest, abbot and candidate for the episcopacy.

        • You can speak all the legalize you want. What Maymon did was MORALLY wrong. This man is not fit to be a bishop. If you would like to crown a man already on the slippery slope of ethical baggage you can have him. The DOS does not want this man.

          Here’s an idea, when his stipend from +Nikon ends why don’t you start paying his salary. It appear this ethically challenged man has no problem being supported by sugar daddies.

          And just one more time, the emails DID NOT RESIDE on the DOS computer or cell phone. They were NOT dos.org emails. They were NOT company emails. The computer and the phone were only the portals and not where the emails resided. You may want to check you legal facts on this because you are wrong.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            Amos–Tell me please if you agree with the following snippet: “You should know that the information that has been gathered from Fr. Alexander’s email account, which is the property of the OCA, which was handed over when he resigned is painting a very different picture of Fr. Garklavs and some of the members of the MC..” (Fr Fester talking to Bishop Mark).

            Also, if you recall, the emails/correspondence that got Father Fester into trouble were the ones in which he seems to be conspiring with retired Bishop Nikolai (speaking as the then DOS Chancellor) and the encyclical he sent from D.C. to all DOS priests. None of these e-mails were private but they certainly pertained to church business, thus the property of the OCA/DOS.

            • Carl,

              At this point, if you can differentiate between company emails and private emails, there is no amount of rehashing that I can offer to enlighten you. Maybe George would like to take a shot at it or others. Honestly your questions is tedious. Nothing personal but I think it has all been said already.

              Have a nice evening.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                True enough; it is quite tedious for y’all dredging up the mantra of “private” e-mail theft. I should not have responded to prolong the tedium.

                • Carl,

                  Cute snotty reply. You appear to be in the great minority not understanding this point. You either choose not to get it or refuse to get it that there are personal emails and company emails with totally different expectations of confidentiality.

                  Fester’s emails were personal, private. They were not the property of Mark Maymon. He took them without knowledge or authorization. He is a thief. He took something that did not belong to him.

                  Carl, not to be prolong your tedium, but let’s just say you get a new phone, and you get it up and running, and you discover that the previous owner’s emails are being downloaded to your phone, his personal emails, not company emails, but either way, what would you do?

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    Amos–It could be that we have a definitional problem here. Let me tell you when I am coming from. A private e-mail is one that does not talk about company matters. Preferably, a primate e-mail (that dos not talk about company matters) is also not sent using company-provided devices, when one is on company time or from company-provided office or home. I hope this clarifies my position, even though I suspect we will continue to disagree.

                    • One can certainly come from that angle, but it still gives no cover to +Mark. What he did was wrong, the people of the DOS understand that and they want no part of him. Now we have to make sure that the synod does not do an end around by unwarranted trashing of Gerasim so that +Mark can slip in. Unlikely? Maybe, but this won’t be over until the large woman sings.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Well, then: we seem to be in agreement in most aspects. As I just posted on O-F::

                      “..a diocesan bishop isprimarily the pastor of his deputies, the parish rectors. If a prospective candidate has so alienated all of the DOS deans and most of the priests to the degree that Bishop Mark has done, the honorable and Christian thing for him to do would be withdraw his name from consideration. It is a crying shame that Bishop Mark is still a candidate. Why is he forcing us to choose sides between himself and the deans and priests? What kind of servant-leader would impose himself in such a fashion?”

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      What nonsense. One may send a public email or a private email about company matters. What makes an email private or public is NOT its content. It’s the intent of the sender, usually identified by using a private, rather than company, email moniker.

                • There’s no issue of employee/employer policy here. What is at issue is that by reading (that is, illegally breaking into, regardless of whether it was already open) and forwarding messages from someone else’s private GMail account (which they do not own, nor are they authorized to enter), Bishop Mark violated Google’s Terms of Service agreement, which everyone who is on their system must abide by, as well as federal wiretapping laws.

                  That is very different from a company owned email system. Furthermore, the aquisition of the information Bishop Mark received was not from simply recording strokes on a keyboard, it was from an unauthorized entry into a GMail account.

            • If I sent an email to George about Carl, this is not Carl’s property, and it would not make it Carl’s property if I were Carl’s private secretary and used my desktop in Carl’s offices to send the email, especially if I had my own email account separate from Carl’s.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                It depends. Let’s assume that you are an employee in my company and you used my equipment to send this email on company time. If the email about me was something not related to company business (let’s say you told George how much you admired me as an artist), it would not a work product but wasting company time on private matters could result in your dismissal. However, if the email had anything at all to do with company business, the email is no longer a private one, even if you used a private email account.

                • another one says


                  Your opinion is interesting but not supported by case law. If a company had such a policy, (DOS does not) then perhaps you would have an argument. Your assertion that any time anyone mentions a business in an email, that makes the email property of the business is ridiculous on its face. In the age of smart phones/tablets and the like, one would have to carry multiple devices to hold pristine separation.

                  But you seem fixated on the legal status of the email, while ignoring the larger, moral issues. Bishop Mark was an auxiliary bishop under the authority of Met. Jonah. He monitored these emails for a significant time. He used the information that he gained to cause maximum damage to the Bishop to whom he was theoretically in obedience. And Bishop Mark did not simply do this privately among the bishops. He colluded with Mr. Stokoe to publicly embarrass his bishop, +Jonah. The emails shared with Mark Stokoe had nothing to do with the purported “interference with the DOS,” by Fr. Fester. Instead Bishop Mark waded into the political fray, choosing sides early and moving against his bishop. If Bishop Mark’s issue was simply with Fr Fester, why would he not discuss this issue with Met Jonah prior to the Synod meeting in Chicago? It seems there are some canons somewhere that abjure clergy who collude against their bishops.

                  Moreover, you ignore Bp Mark’s gross overstepping of his authority in personnel matters, or the manner in which he thoroughly destroyed the the peace of the parish through Holy Week.

                  Any one of these issues would be reason to disqualify Bishop Mark from consideration for the DOS episcopate (or any other diocese, for that matter.) When you pile them all up, your persistent refrain regarding the emails, even if you were correct, is a minor matter when considering this man’s suitability for the position.

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    Another One–I invite you to read my postings wherein you will discover that I am not fixated on the e mail issue. As I recall, I have not brought it up but merely commented on others’ posts on the subject. What I am fixated on is the truth. I suppose all of us are. At least, I pray that it is so.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Personally, a good rule of thumb in all secular institutions is, if you have to ask a lawyer if something is legal, it’s probably not. And it certainly isn’t ethical.

          Anyway, I would hope that in the Church of Christ we would follow a higher standard than the minimalist ones that obtain in corporate America.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Me, franky there is no one mature enough to be a bishop. The best one can home is that they have the humility and dedication to Christ to grow into it in a healthy way. Given what +Mark has already demonstrated he does not have that capability. The fact that Fr. Gerasim as moved away from a man who had gone astray and was leading others astray speaks loudly about his capcity for growth.

        • Am I the only one who finds it just plain hilarious that someone who bolsters their opinion with their longstanding work in corporate America is also downplaying the importance of someone’s ethical baggage? LOL

        • Please send the DOS employee policy that outlines that. I’d love to see it. I’d love to see the rationale for employer access to password-protected personal email accounts.


          • I believe the policy in the DOS at the time of +Mark Maymon and Fr. David Morretti was,

            “Wow, look, Fr. Joe’s emails are being downloaded on the iPhone. What should I do?” “Fr. David, I think we should look at them, don’t you?” “Yes, Saidna.” “But, don’t you think we should let Fr. Joe know about these emails?” “They are his private emails.” “No, Fr. David, let’s keep an eye on them.” “Yes, Saidna.” “I will call my lawyer to make sure I am not open to any lawsuits.” “Good thinking, Saidna.”

            from the Chancery Policy Handbook, written by +Mark Maymon

      • StephenD says

        Amos I totally agree with you..but it seems Bishop Mark is being pushed onto the Diocese…

      • Gail Sheppard says

        You are mistaken, Amos. Bishop Mark, whatever his failings , was not the “main source of information” regarding Metropolitan Philip. Ironically, Metropolitan Philip, himself, was the “main source of information. “

        • Gail,

          You are mistaken. +Mark told people in the DOS that he was the one who fed Stokoe information about +Philip. He worked behind his Metropolitan’s back in the AOCA and he did it and is doing it again in the OCA. +Mark is not fit to serve as a diocesan bishop.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Amos, you clearly don’t think much of Bishop Mark so why would you believe him when he takes credit for being the one who fed MS information about Metropolitan Philip?

            • Gail, do you really think I am making this up? Do you think that our kind host would allow me to write here if he thought I was pulling this out of my ear? Sounds like another rose-colored glasses alert. 😉

              • George Michalopulos says

                Amos is right on the money here. Go back to the OCAN archives and follow the timeline of the whole fracas. Also remember to read those posts in which Bp Mark refused to sign the protocol by Met Philip regarding the demotion of diocesan bishops to auxiliary status. Also go back further and read about the time in which Met Philip surreptitiously removed those three seminarians from SVS (thereby putting it in a serious economic bind) because Met Jonah wouldn’t/couldn’t silence OCAN. The bad blood between Philip and Stokoe probably started there.

                Besides, why are we surprised that Stokoe would want to “get” Philip? After all, he had a track record of removing and/or derailing the careers bishops and priests that he didn’t like –Kondratick, Brum, Nikolai, etc. This ain’t rocket science folks. The only question to my mind is how deep is the conspiracy, i.e., what is the nature of the cabal that Stokoe was the spokesman for?

                • Jane Rachel says

                  George: Absolutely. Do you people still think these men are liars? Because the only way you can continue to believe what they are saying is not true, is if you remain convinced, bull-headedly and against all logic, that they are not only lying, but liars by nature. There isn’t another way out. If they are telling the truth, then terrible misjustices (is that a word?) have occurred, and unless those misjustices are made right, the OCA is sick beyond repair. Isaiah 1. Sick beyond repair! Can you imagine? People are sticking their heads in the sand. They spoke out by the hundreds and thousands, really, considering those petitions and letters they signed, believing and supporting the Stokoe belief system like blind sheep going over a cliff, following false shepherds. Now? Nothing but crickets.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    I would venture that “injustice” was where you wanted to be.

                    “Hundreds and thousands?” That would be – what? – a tenth of OCA members or less? I’m thinking you couldn’t get a tenth of the OCA to sign a petition for free government cheese. Secondly, it seems to me you have not accounted for the “indifference factor,” which in my mind minimally reduces your figure to mere “hundreds” of blind sheep. This hardly makes a case for mass “bullheadedness and defiance” of logic and an indication of “sickness beyond repair.”

                    I do not believe it improper to acknowledge that the general principle is that the less objective data one has at their disposal, the less reliable is the inference drawn from that data. My observation is that principle is ignored here on a daily basis.

                • G. Sheppard says

                  George, I don’t have to go back to the archives. I had a front and center seat. Bishop Mark was not the only one who refused to “sign the protocol” nor was he the one who told me about it, which incidentally was BEFORE anything was posted on Stokoe’s website. If people want to bash Bishop Mark for the leaked emails or for anything else that is common knowledge, then they can “have at it,” as they say, but it’s not fair to Bishop Mark or to anyone else to speculate on something we don’t know to be true. All we have is Amos’ word for it and we don’t know who Amos is. I use my real name and I am telling you that I know for a FACT there were other people feeding Stokoe information. I was one of them.

                  Jane, no one is calling anyone a liar, but “Amos” is using a pseudonym. In a very real sense, his (or her) very name is a lie.

                  Amos, our kind host may know who you are, but we don’t. Why not give us your name so we can validate the veracity of what you’re saying based on who you are and how close you are to the situation? Doesn’t that seem fair?

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    Gail, I don’t dispute that Bp Mark didn’t sign that protocol before it was leaked on OCAN. I’m not sure how many days transpired before it was posted on OCAN. I think we can be reasonably sure that it was not Met Philip who gave all the info to Mark Stokoe. I’m not saying Bp Mark did either. What is indisputable is that during that entire fracas and up until Bp Mark’s release to the OCA, an inordinate amount of puff pieces about Bp Mark appeared on OCAN. Conversely, the criticism of Met Philip was deafening.

                    Either Bp Mark or an acolyte of his fed Mark Stokoe this information. It is certainly possible that rogue elements in the OCA gave this information to Stokoe in order to grease the skids for Mark’s eventual entry.

                    • G. Sheppard says

                      I didn’t mean to suggest that Metropolitan Philip gave any information to Mark Stokoe!!! When I said Metropolitan Philip was the main source of information, I meant that Metropolitan Philip was so public. For example, he told Kevin Allen in an interview that he didn’t pay taxes on several million dollars which he spends as he sees fit, because one day it will belong to the Archdiocese. Or when he made a grand display of pulling out the seminary students and sending them to Holy Cross. Or when he fired a priest for insubordination. A great example is when Metropolitan Philip addressed the 50th Antiochian Archdiocese Convention, where he said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, between February 24, 2009, and August 18, 2010, this Archdiocese experienced some restlessness because of contradictory resolutions taken by the Holy Synod of Antioch. I thought we were back in the era of the Toledo/New York conflict. The Holy Synod met on June 16, 2010, at the Patriarchate in Damascus and adopted three contradictory resolutions vis-á-vis North America. . . ” Do you see how he blamed the Patriarchate for the forged documents that HE posted on the Archdiocese website and refused to take down even AFTER the Patriarchate posted the true version on their website? This is the kind of thing I’m talking about. He indicts himself. No one has to say a word. It’s all out there for public consumption. – Did Bishop Mark feed Stokoe any information? Who knows? I suspect he didn’t because (1) he didn’t have to since so many people were contacting Mark and (2) he was being threatened by one of Metropolitan Philip’s friends. I have been on the receiving end of such threats and I can tell you from experience, it gives you pause. I suspect Bishop Mark just wanted out of there and because Metropolitan Philip gave him a canonical release, Bishop Mark’s hands in this particular matter were probably clean.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          You are right Gail. Bishop Mark came into the fracas rather late. There were plenty of other AOCA sources.

      • Patrick Henry Reardon says

        Of Bishop Mark (Maymon), Amos asserts, “He was out to get rid of +Philip.”

        Amos, you cannot possibly believe that.

        Indeed, if Metropolitan PHILIP and Bishop MARK knew someone made such a claim, they would both be highly amused.

        Please, man, reassure us of some minimum contact with reality.

        • Fr. Pat, then why did +Mark team up with Stokoe and OCAN? And, why did +Mark leave the AOCA? You need to take off your rose colored glasses. If +Mark was so good why did he run to the OCA when he was flushed out by +Philip and if he is so good why is there overwhelming objection to him in the DOS? Oh right, +Mark is the poor victim.

          Get a grip dear Father. It may be you who is in need of a reality check. 😉

          • Rather thank to continue to beat this dead horse, we should just acknowledge the facts on the ground even if we cannot know the motives or intents of Bp Mark and the other players in the AOCNA/DOS/conspiracy against Jonah drama, of which the paramount one would be Mark Stokoe.

            Clearly there was some collaboration between Bp Mark and Mark Stokoe. Given the latter’s track record in wrecking careers and grinding axes, that’s about all that we need to know.

            • Bishop Mark in the Antiochian Archdiocese is totally beside the point: his sorry record in the OCA Diocese of the South, and underhanded collaboration with Mark Stokoe, speaks for itself. Thanks for highlighting the crucial point, George.

          • Patrick Henry Reardon says

            Amos inquires, “why did +Mark team up with Stokoe and OCAN? And, why did +Mark leave the AOCA? You need to take off your rose colored glasses. If +Mark was so good why did he run to the OCA when he was flushed out by +Philip and if he is so good why is there overwhelming objection to him in the DOS? Oh right, +Mark is the poor victim.”

            Since Bishop Mark was normally a guest in my home when he came to Chicago (and was such when he took Metropolitan Jonah’s phone call, inviting him to the OCA), I know the answers to some of these questions. I have no intention of commenting on them, however—certainly not to satisfy the curiosity of folks on this blog site.

            I have never claimed that Bishop Mark was “the poor victim.” Indeed, Bishop Mark takes no such view..

            None of this, however, has anything to do with your far-fetched claim that Bishop Mark (or Mark Stokoe, for that matter) was out ” to get rid of +Philip.”

            Metropolitan PHILIP has had his critics, but absolutely no one, as far as I know, was ever “out to get rid of +Philip.”

            Separating Metropolitan PHILIP from the Antiochian Archdiocese is utterly unthinkable. That is to to say, the words cannot even be formulated as a concept. This Archdiocese is tied to the ministry of Metropolitan PHILIP is way without analogy among the other Orthodox jurisdictions; it is a simple fact that this Archdiocese stands or falls with Metropolitan PHILIP. The earth would be sooner rid of the Pacific Ocean.

            Bishop Mark knows this, and he has always known it. Not for a minute would he have entertained a thought at odds with that self-evident fact. I know you don’t like Bishop Mark, but give the man credit for basic sanity.

            • Lola J. Lee Beno says

              It is also a simple fact that Metropolitan PHILIP is not going to live forever.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Lola, no +Philip will not live forever but I’ve been Antiochian my whole Orthodox life (25 years) and I’ve been hearing since day one that Met. Philip would die soon. There is the beginnings of an attempt to imagine the AOA without him. We have some good bishops much better than perhaps people know and a number of fine priests.

                It is not an entirely bad thing the arrangement we have. The bishops are out of the spotlight and much more able to learn how to be one. Met. Philip takes all the heat and he is more than willing and able to do so. He occasionally stirs the pot and takes actions that I don’t personally like and I do not like him as a person especially when he stonewalls on things I’d like to see happen (a comprehensive audit for one) and takes punitive actions against people for seemingly no good reason while leaving others alone.

                When the audit is finally done, I would not be surprised to see that the worldly aspect of Met. Philip’s time has been largely worthy. At the same time, it would not surprise me to see that he favored old tribal friends in ways that were less than worthy. We will have to address many things when Met Philip does repose much of it is already known to us and IMO, being planned for.

                All in all despite our imperfections, I’d rather be where I am than anywhere else.

            • None of this, however, has anything to do with your far-fetched claim that Bishop Mark (or Mark Stokoe, for that matter) was out ” to get rid of +Philip.”

              Metropolitan PHILIP has had his critics, but absolutely no one, as far as I know, was ever “out to get rid of +Philip.”

              Yep, that about sums it up, Fr. Pat, “as far as (you) know.” Well, you don’t know all on this topic, but shall we just leave it at that, I will let you know what you know about +Mark when he was in the AOCA. What we know about +Mark since coming to the OCA is well documented and despite the protestations of M. Stankovich, the DOS has spoken.

              +Mark was turned out after +Nikon came to the South, prepared to defend +Mark, but left knowing that +Mark’s actions while Administrator were indefensible. +Nikon and +Mark came to the parish council meeting of the Cathedral in Dallas prepared to remove every Council member (I believe a tactic he used while in Toledo), however he left that meeting enlightened, +Mark rebuffed for his immoral actions and +Nikon convinced that +Mark was unable to be a viable option for the DOS.

              We must continue to be vigilant that this man does not get shoved down the throats of the DOS by some slight of hand by the Synod. However, if that takes place, there will be Orthodox juridictions ready to lower their lifeboats to rescue those faithful thrown overboard to fend for themselves. New churches will be planted. And who will lose? The OCA, the DOS, but +Mark and the Synod will “win.”

              Stay strong folk of the South, stay strong!

            • Michael Bauman says

              Father, while there is no dobut that Met. Philip is vastly important and significant in the Archdiocese, I think you are getting a little hyperbolic. If we are indeed, “God Protected” as so many of the official releases say, then we will be able to do fine, even better when he reposes.

              • Patrick Henry Reardon says

                Michael Bauman suspects, ” I think you are getting a little hyperbolic.”

                Of course, I am. The reference to the Pacific Ocean, put in for rhetorical flair, was way over the top..

                The figures, though, are hard to disguise.

                When I entered the Orthodox Church 24 years ago, I listened to a lecture of Father Tom Hopko, who remarked that the OCA had lost 2/3 of its membership during the pastoral ministry of Metropolitan Theodosius.

                I don’t know how things stand in the OCA right now, but I do wonder.

                During the ministry of Metropolitan PHILIP, on the other hand, the population of the Antiochian Archdiocese has increased five-fold and the number of parishes nearly four-fold. This might have happened without him, of course, but the simple fact is that it didn’t.

                As far as a human calculation can assess the thing, God has used the ministry of Metropolitan PHILIP in this Archdiocese in a way for which there is no analogue among the other American jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church.

                When I said that this Archdiocese stands or falls with Metropolitan PHILIP, the only comparison in my mind was that of Saint Paul. God could have used anybody to establish the churches of Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Greece, but—as far as human calculation can figure it—-those churches stood or fell with Paul.

                One or other of our correspondents have mentioned the Metropolitan’s mortality. Well, the churches of Asia Minor, Greece, and Macedonia survived St. Paul.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Fr. Patrick, I do not in anyway dispute what you say. I would add that in addition to quantity, there has been a fair amount of quality too. The young priests that I have met or know who have come through the Cathedral are exceptional people who do honor to the Church and their priesthood. Not all of them are converts either.

                  Personally, I would be a proud father if my son were ever in their company although his path does not appear pointed in that direction.

                • Jesse Cone says

                  Perhaps I’m being overly simplistic here, but I think the main point here isn’t what happened in Toledo, but that what happened in the DOS has caused people to reevaluate everything that came before. To use a close-at-hand analogy: what was revealed about Mark Stokoe has caused most to reevaluate their opinions of RSK, + Nikolai, etc.

                  Moreover, I have heard from multiple people that +Mark told them he collaborated with Stokoe while he was in the Antiochian Archdiocese. How, why, and to what extent I don’t know.

                  • I’m sure Bishop Mark did collaborate with Stokoe to some extent when he was in the Antiochian Archdiocese, but it wasn’t a pretty situation for a lot of reasons. I think Bishop Mark was right to request parish financial audits, and I think Metropolitan Philip was in the wrong to put the kibosh on it.

                    People talk about re-thinking past controversies because of what we learned about Stokoe’s disingenuousness. I would like to suggest extreme caution on that front. For starters, one of the ways Stokoe trashed reputations was by finding ways to tie his victims to people who had already been discredited. Tying the victims to one another is dangerous: some people received Stokoe’s ire because they earned it.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Helga, thank you for bringing up this point. In the interests of fairness to Bp Mark, I agreed with his stance that the offending parishes should be audited and I disagreed with Met Philip when he overrode Bp Mark’s authority.

                      What’s right is right.

                • To be fair, Fr. Patrick, the major reason membership of the OCA “declined” so drastically is because they had to stop using dreadfully exaggerated membership figures.

                  • Monk James says

                    For years, many OCA parishes were underreporting their populations in order to minimize their a’head tax’ ssessments, so the population count should now be trending upward rather than down as we move to ‘proportional’ giving.

                    I’m not so confident in Krindatch’s numbers as some other people seem to be.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      To be fair to Mr Krindatch, he was given a near-impossible task. It was stil the first time that a systematic and honest assessment was made. So far, it seems to have borne some fruit in that the various jurisdictions are not putting out their usual self-congratulatory propaganda vis a vis numbers.

                • Patrick Henry Reardon, a Priest, wrote this:
                  “When I entered the Orthodox Church 24 years ago, I listened to a lecture of Father Tom Hopko, who remarked that the OCA had lost 2/3 of its membership during the pastoral ministry of Metropolitan Theodosius.”
                  That would have been in 1988, one year after I was made a bishop. Until I read this reminiscence of Reardon’s, I’d have found it hard to believe that even Thomas Hopko, also a Priest, could have said something so patently stupid. Why does Patrick Henry Reardon, a Priest, find such a proposition even likely, let alone significant? The Priest might just have well have said, with an equal nonsense quotient, that the OCA had lost 2/3 (or more) of its membership during the period after Professor Hopko began teaching candidates for ordination as a member of the faculty at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary!
                  And even today NOONE knows how many members the OCA “has.” There was a time that membership was calculated from baptismal registrations and total numbers of communions.
                  By the time the OCA came into existence as a Local Church, the ridiculous method of counting how many paid (or had paid for them) the annual assessment. To some extent, this ludicrous, even comical method is still used. The closest thing to it in degree of preposterousness would be if the U.S.A. were to estimate its population according to the number of people who filed income tax returns!!!!
                  Why the First Hierarch who owed his election to the influence of some member(s) of the SVS faculty on members of the Holy Synod at the AAC in Montreal would now be disparaged in such a slippery way by a relative of one of the most potent persuaders, is a question I leave to future church historians.
                  I suppose the Priest-faculty member assumed he knew his audience and that “it wouldn’t hurt’ to slip in Metropolitan Theodosius’s name in a gratuitous, if irrelevant way, rather than to just speak as a scholar would, of a period from year X to year Y.
                  As for Metropolitan Philip, I agree with Reardon’s high estimate of him. However, here, too, reference to numerical membership growth is entirely irrelevant to anything of importance to our teaching on the Church. Yes, membership figures grew dramatically after the Toledo Archdiocese was joined up to the Englewood Archdiocese and after the Englewood Archdiocese decided to hold out to the “Evangelical Orthodox” church VIPs the prospect of being received with no claims they needed ANYTHING like preparation (they were probably even told something like “I don’t know what’s wrong with the Greeks and the Russians: YOU have more to teach US than we have to teach YOU!” Then, in addition to these institutional accomplishments: Toledo and EOC, a way was found to make it as absolutely as easy as possible, comparatively speaking, to receive members in the way FURTHEST from the practice of the pre-Constantinian Church as possible.
                  The large, super-large congregations of the phenomenally “successful evangelists” like Reverend Schuler, show that census numbers increases are directly proportional to the amount of time and talents one devotes to increase in census numbers above ALL ELSE.
                  Want to make your parish grow? Find out what people want from a church and give it to them. That’s all there is to it. It won’t hurt to mention that “The Church allows you a maximum of three divorces”. ‘You don’t have to go to confession all the time: just “go to Communion” every Sunday, as required, and, if possible, TITHE.” and so on. It’s not rocket science, as they say.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Your Grace, while I don’t know what it is like elsewhere, the catechesis at my parish is approximately 8-9 months long and covers every aspect of the Church teaching. It is done by priests and well-trained and faithful Orthodox. While the emphasis is not as strict as you might like, it is no where near the pandering disaster you describe.

                    Even when I was received 25 years ago nothing was ever offered to me in any way that was pandering to worldly desire.

                    BTW while the requirement for confession is regretfully low, we are strongly encouraged to attend on that wonderful sacrament on a regular basis.

                    • Michael Bauman, I don’t believe I made reference to catechesis, or, rather the lack of it, in reference to any parishes at all: only to the reception of the EOC into the Antiochene Archdiocese. One Priest’s wife, now in the OCA, who had been received with the rest of them at the time, was, when I met her, still expressing doubts about her reception. She said “No one told us anything and no one asked us anything. Just one Sunday we were all told to just line up side by side. When we had done so, they told us to stick out our arms. When we did that, someone came down the line and painted oil on our hands, and THAT WAS IT!”
                      I repeat, I did NOT describe any “pandering disaster” in your parish or any of the parishes of the Antiochene Archdiocese, and I don’t understand how you can declare I did. The only general bashing I’ve done relative to anything has been at the awful transformation from a time of perhaps hyper reverence toward receiving the Christ’s Holy Mysteries, to the popular idea that one MUST commune in order to come up to the mark.
                      As a child would put it, ‘We go to communion ’cause we’re all POSE TO!”
                      The Eucharist has not only become a slogan in many places, as Father Alexander Schmeman once warned it might, but it’s become a MANDATORY REQUIREMENT.

                    • As one who was intimately acquainted with the reception of the EOC converts (at least in one part of the country), it is my humble opinion that whatever misjudgments were made lay primarily in the hasty ordination of the (former) EOC clergy and the fact that many, if not most, of their communities remained intact with the same clergy who had themselves received very little discipleship. Most were good, well-intentioned men, but one doesn’t learn the Orthodox Faith primarily from books. The Faith is not so much learned as it is ‘handed on’ from elder to disciple in personal communion. This is not possible in a context where entire communities and clergy remained largely isolated (some might even say insolated) from their elders in the Faith. This doesn’t make them any less ‘Orthodox,’ but it did create a great many serious misunderstandings on all sides that could have been avoided.

                      The above conditions were largely dictated by the EOC leadership themselves as a condition of their conversion. It was very strange to observe their (more or less) insistence on these terms at the same time that they were beginning to understand and even become somewhat fearful at the realization that they were not the Church.

                      I say this not with any particular criticism of anyone involved. Mass conversions are not neat and tidy affairs, but I do believe we would all do well to learn from their experience should this sort of thing occur in the future (such as could happen at some point with the Anglicans).

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                    The Ben Lomond, CA incident drove many of those same EOC out of the AOA that it originally brought in. In this regards the GOA was correct to make them wait and learn and the AOA was wrong not to make them wait and get properly taught not just in Orthodoxy but also in Orthopraxis.

                    Still alot of hurt feelings over this from what I understand. As Orthodox we have to take special care over converts to not only make them feel welcomed, but to also teach them properly. The fault is not with the convert, but with us if we do not take care to act properly towards our converts and to teach them properly.


                  • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                    Find out what people want from a church and give it to them. That’s all there is to it.

                    This is what my husband, who isn’t Orthodox and so far not impressed by what he’s observed so far (yes, I know, Colette) has been saying over and over again. Run the church like a business . . .

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Despite the description that His Grace gives of Antiochian life, I have learned from my time in the Church that there is a radical disconnect between what I expect and what the Church draws me toward-usually kicking and screaming. There is a big difference between my desires and my beliefs and the person of Jesus Christ.

                      Generally speaking if people coming to the Church want ‘religion’ that is what they will find and practice. If people want the person of Jesus Christ, He is abundantly available and the way to approach Him in deeping communion is at hand.

                      The thing about the Church is that she helps people recognize, nourish and encourage even the faintest of longings for the divine in the person of our savior.

                      At least in my oh so worldly, lax parish, there are no blocks placed in the way of anyone who wants to be quite rigorous in their prayer, fasting, almsgiving and repentance. Neither are unnecessary road blocks of rigor placed in the way of those who are coming from the desert where they have wandered and can only take the tiniest of drops of water at first. And despite the clear imprint of our Lebanese founders, no one has to become Greeker than the Greeks, a fake Slavophile or a pseudo-monastic to be a part of the community.

                      Those of the EOC who left (not as many as Peter inimates) did not leave entirely because they were not catechized properly but in part. It is impossible to catechize someone fully and what is adequate for one, is wholly inadequate or too much for another. Real catechesis takes place as the person continues to be dedicated to the Truth and begins to integrate their life into the life of the Church (rather than the other way ’round).

                      There were quite a few of the EOC who decided not to enter the Church at all because of the reception (or lack there of) given them by the Greeks.
                      People find the treasure that is already in their heart.

                      Several years ago I was giving a tour of our Cathedral. One of the people in the group was a Roman Catholic woman. As we progressed from the Outer Nathex up to the Iconostasis she responded to everything I said about the Church and our life with “Oh, that’s just what we believe.” I was beginning to think that I could have said (not that I would in that context) “The office of the papacy is heretical” and she would have responded in the same manner. I could actually see her mentally processing everything she saw and heard to fit into her pre-existent paradigm. To an extent everyone does that, even the so-called ‘cradle’ Orthodox (not that there really is such a thing). IMO, we are all converts or we have been poor soil.

                      Some religious paradigms are much more difficult to penetrate than others. Some folks are more resistant that others. We all need the on-going catechesis of the sacramental life of the Church. We are all wrong in our beliefs, tempted by the heretical mind that surrounds us and the desires of our own carnality to take less than the gift the Church offers.

                      We are the maimed the halt and the lame, called to our Lord’s feast. May we not settle for just the leftovers or the appetizers.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Michael, I agree with much of what you say, but would disagree with your understanding as to the reception (or lack thereof) that the GOA gave the EOC. So, before we start going down our own paths of the version of events (i.e. Mythologies) back then I will simply disagree with you on that point and leave it at that, unless you were a part of the EOC, at which point I apologize and stand corrected.

                      However, if not, I will defer to those EOC people who were there to tell their story (if they so choose) as I, and maybe you, can be wrong as to what happened to the EOC back then. Yet, your points are well taken. Thank you.


                  • Diogenes says

                    More rant and raving against SVS and Fr. Tom; eh BT? The OCA did lose many people due to attrition and Fr. Tom was probably correct. However, this was no different than what was happening in all the Christian denominations. Look at the figures regarding the churches.

                    • So “Fr. Tom”‘s gratuitous reference to Metropolitan Theodosius was but “rant and raving?”
                      Is it you or Chris that runs that priest’s website for him? And “look at the figures?” Oh, my. Those figures.

                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                    The EOC was not brought in without preparation. In each area of the country the Metropolitan put an experienced priest in charge of working with the EOC to prepare them for reception into Orthodoxy. I worked with groups in Gary, Indiana and Milwaukee. I made many trips to both places and had the candidates for ordination come to my home for instruction. Among all the communities we only had problems in one place. I am convinced that even that would not have happened had outsiders not interfered. I have very little doubt that if you compare the retention rate of those ordained after a complete seminary education and those we received from the EOC that the former EOC priests did as well, if not better than the seminary graduates.
                    I also have no doubt that the laity of the EOC received much more instruction than those baptized with St. Vladimir in Kiev. As any experienced priest knows, you never know what will happen with a convert. Some seem very enthusiastic and then a few years later lose that enthusiasm. Some take years to convert. Some are about to convert and then find out something about the teachings of the Church that they cannot accept and disappear. All in all the EOC has done very well. I have seen former Uniate communities that join the Orthodox Church, but which still have many Uniate quasi-Roman Catholic practices.

                    Fr. John W. Morris

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Me, I must protest vehemently your assertions. There is nothing at all “questionable” about the canonicity of Abbott Gerasim, unless you believe that the Serbian Orthodox Church is questionable. As for his theology, I am quite sure that either you or SVS are right. I’m placing my bets with SVS, from which he graduated summa cum laude.

      As for Bp Mark, he may have had “legal” access to the emails but the ethics of it is another matter entirely. What is more uncomfortable however is that by reading those emails, giving them to OCAN, and doing so in such a way as to do maximum damage to His Beatitude (and Fr Joe), is beyond the pale. That some people don’t understand the basics of this incident, is most troubling to me.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Y’all know that I do not share your view that Bishop Mark was out to get Father Fester or anyone else. I also do not think that he did anything legally or ethically wrong regarding the e-mails. However, by divulging correspondence from one of the priests under him, he indicated to all other DOS priests that they cannot rely on him to keep their correspondence private. Similarly, there was nothing wrong canonically when he disciplined one other priest; however, that action indicated to all other DOS priests that he could act in an overbearing and capricious manner. What Bishop Mark needs more than anything else is the passage of time so that he can rebuild relationships with his priests.

        • George Michalopulos says

          That’s very well said Carl. I pray that he comes clean. Time in a monastery would do much to rehabilitate him. Eventually, I would even be in favor of carving out a diocese for Florida and making him its first bishop.

        • *His* priests? They are Christ’s priests above all else, and Bishop Mark has no authority over them except what is delegated to him by the locum tenens.

          What Bishop Mark needs is a one-way ticket to a monastery, not as its head but as a guest in absolute obedience to the abbot, for an indefinite period of at LEAST one year. There, he could learn what he needs to know about OCA liturgics and music, not to mention receiving some formation in prayer and ascesis.

          He also needs to issue a sincere apology to the Dallas cathedral, accepting full responsibility for what happened and asking their forgiveness, with no shadow of blaming anyone else for what happened or expecting anything in return for the apology.

          If he does those things, then, and only then, would I feel comfortable with him standing for nomination and election as a diocesan bishop anywhere. Not the Diocese of the South, I think the prodigal has devoured that living, but maybe a daughter diocese of it in Florida like George says.

          Unless Bishop Mark does all of that, though, I do not feel comfortable giving him any authority anywhere in the OCA, least of all installing him as bishop over a diocese.

          • Helga,

            As you well know, +Mark refused to go to a monastery when he left the AOCA. He came to Dallas and the South expecting to be the next ruling hierarch of the DOS. It is also true that one of his first actions as the Administrator of the DOS was to bite the hand that fed him, Met. Jonah. He sided with the likes of Melchizedek, Benjamin, Kishkovsky and Garklavs to put +Jonah in a detox facility, one that +Benjamin was very familiar with.

            +Mark made a calculated decision to side with those who he thought would do him the most good. It is in this context that Fr. Fester asked him to say out of it and keep his head down. It is equally clear that +Mark chose to turn on Fester secretly looking at his private emails and then going around the South saying that Fester should be deposed because he was interfering in another diocese, while at the same time +Mark was the Bishop of Baltimore, the same diocese as Fr Fester and +Jonah (Washington.)

            +Mark never understood his role as an Administrator and acted with impunity as if he was the diocesan bishop. He routinely overstepped his authority, for example making liturgical changes at the Cathedral, disciplining clergy. Both were not in his purview as an Administrator.

            But all of this is well-known, it has been repeated here and other places and the DOS has gone on record saying they don’t want +Mark.

            But, lest we forget, it all started when +Jonah asked +Mark to go to a monastery when he left the AOCA, the same suggestion you are now making Helga, and +Mark refused. At that moment we all should have known that something was not right with the man and his motives were not in keeping with what his bishop, Met. Jonah knew best for him at the time.

      • Alexander says

        The SOC is questionable for a lot of things, especially how the Belgrade Patriarchate views its three dioceses in the USA. But, even during the nasty 1963 – 1992 schism, there was never a serious question about the apostolic succession of any “Serbian” bishop. (That they are “uncanonical” insofar as they have no business being on this territory, well that’s a whole other story.)

        That said, for 99.999999% of those who consider themselves to be attached to the SOC in North America, St. Herman’s Monastery in Platina is largely unknown beyond a small circle of people in the Western Diocese. How it “really” became a part of the SOC’s Western diocese is a bit of a mystery.

        • Maybe thats another question that Father Gerasim should be asked.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Or, maybe not. I’d side with the maybe not. Again, it is a “when did you stop beating your wife?” type of question.

            I get it though, its fear, pure and simple.

        • In my experience, Platina is very well known and well-regarded. When a wildfire threatened the monastery in the summer of 2008, I recall prayer requests and widespread concern in many places, and the monastery and St. Xenia’s skete were both delivered by a miracle.

          I also consider it a miracle that in such a short span of years, what used to be a lowly schismatic group could be polished into such a bright jewel! It must have been the prayers of St. Herman and Fr. Seraphim, along with the tireless work of Fr. Gerasim.

          • For the record, I am SICKENED by this attempt to cast aspersions on the Serbian Orthodox Church just to get in a swipe at Father Gerasim.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              As am I.

            • Jesse Cone says

              Abbot Gerasim has been vetted. If his teachings are heretical, than so are rest of the bishop’s in the OCA.

              That doesn’t make him the right choice, but it does mean that those attempts at casting dispersion on his teachings (and the Serbs by extension) don’t hold water.

              His reputation in California is glowing, and St. Herman’s is treasured and well-thought of in no small part due to him.

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          Alexander thinks, “St. Herman’s Monastery in Platina is largely unknown beyond a small circle of people in the Western Diocese.”

          This is not my impression, I must say.

          Largely because of its publications, Platina is very well known and widely admired in my own Antiochian Archdiocese.

          When I mention my pilgrimage, three years ago, to pray at the tomb of Father Seraphim Rose, the usual response among confreres is one of laudable envy.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            I must say, I am curious why all of a sudden aspersions are being cast upon Platina. I trust your instincts in these matters.

            • Michael Bauman says

              George, why does anyone spread rumors, innuendo and slander especially anonymously?

              As I said in post upstream, these folks are afraid of someone who might acutally have a less worldly approach.

          • Alexander says

            Fr., Helga, and Others,

            To be as clear as I can:

            First, I have no proverbial horse in the Fr. Gerasim race and intend to neither cast aspersions, impeach his integrity, “canonicity,” nor question his candidacy for the episcopacy. And on the opposite end, I have no reason to endorse or support him.

            Second, Fr. Patrick seems to have misunderstood what I said. My entire statement was “that said, for 99.999999% of those who consider themselves to be attached to the SOC in North America, St. Herman’s Monastery in Platina is largely unknown beyond a small circle of people in the Western Diocese.” The scope of the observation was internal to the SOC in North America where — broadly speaking — very few even know it exists, fewer about its “acceptance” into the SOC in North America, and even fewer about its supposed “controversial” background.

            St. Sava Monastery in Libertyville, Illinois, New Gracanica Monastery in Third Lake, Illinois, St. Mark in Ohio, and St. Paisius in Phoenix, are beloved and widely known, though St. Paisius less so because of it is a “recent” and beautiful addition (as in the last two decades). But, St. Herman’s – among the “Serbs” –simply is not. I’d would be surprised if one in 100 would even know of its existence. (I confess hyperbole with the 99.9999999%.) Can’t — and don’t claim to — make any comment about what the Antiochians, Greeks, Hoosiers, or North Carolinians know or don’t know about it.

            The historical significance and importance of Serbian monasteries in the USA to American Serbs is enormous. The why’s aren’t necessarily the most humble or noble; the how so’s are an essay in and of themselves. But the life and temporal administration of these “known” monasteries is widely discussed –publicly and privately, in formal meetings, sometimes factually, and at others as utterly irresponsible gossip and innuendo. But, their temporal administration is as hashed and rehashed as much as many subjects on this site are, but not through blogs and websites. But, not St. Herman’s.

            Furthermore, after decades long charades by two guys in the Bay Area who ran some sort of “private monastery,” that was (charitably) “tolerated” by then ruling bishop(s), “monasteries” can be a dicey subject among the “Serbian” laity — rightfully, wrongully, or otherwise. So, my observation stands: as to the details of St. Herman’s history and how it was “really” accepted, is, frankly a mystery.

            Some of you may think, so what, its none of your business. It is exclusively the perogative of an imperial episcopacy to make those types of determinations. Perhaps. But some of us have — or had — responsibilities to assist with the temporal administration of dioceses where — to use an over used business phrase –“due diligence” is expected and necessary, especially when it comes to insuring their liability. The St. Herman’s “acceptance,” finances, administration, and activities have been and remain exceedingly quiet, a passing point even at the Central Church Council level.

            Finally, one more point, though this reply is now far beyond what prompted this entire thread of discussion: The way the SOC in the USA administers itself could use some sunlight, along with one of those blue lights that identify bodily fluids on a CSI episode. Greek, Antiochian, and OCA issues are internet rages. Want a scandal? Ask about how the new Patriarch Irinej made St. Sava’s stavropegial out of thin air and how its finances have been, ahem, “managed” over the last two years. There’s one aspersion.

            The Serbs have their fair share of controversies involving allegations — and proof — of homosexality among the clergy and laity, of financial mismanagement, priests shooting at their daughters, and countless other things. But, thus far, the “Serbs” perpetuating the sinful gossip — or fighting the good fight against corruption — have largely stuck to the archaic telephone (land lines at that), photocopied paper screeds masquerading as “open letters,” and, as I understand, conversations among people standing outside of church smoking cigarettes during Divine Liturgy.

    • lexcaritas says

      “Me”, would you please be so kind as to inform us how Fr. Gerasim’s theology is “questionable”? Likewise, his “canonicity”?


    • Fr. Gerasim’s theology and beliefs have not been questioned in any respect by any church authority. That was slander, pure and simple.

      Don’t forget, this Fr. Gerasim spent three years studying at SVS of all places, which is definitely on a different part of the Orthodox spectrum than ROCOR/Serbia. If they could have found a problem with Fr. Gerasim’s theology, I’m sure they would have. Yet he graduated with honors and multiple commendations.

      • alexander says

        First, I’m a huge supporter of SVS … and second, I reiterate that I have no agenda vis a vis Fr. Gerasim.

        But amongst us friends, I think that your argument is problematic:

        Have we forgetten that Margaret Barker delivered the 29th Father Alexander Schmemann Lecture at St. Vadimir’s on January 29, 2012, something insults most anyone with half a brain?

        And have we forgotten that SVS gave what — and honorary degree — to Rowan Williams? His, ummm, agenda, was vetted in spades here and elsewhere and they still did it. That level of theological discernment insults anyone with a quarter brain.

        That SVS didn’t find enough of a problem with those two clowns — and yes, that’s what they are clowns — posing as putative theologians before honoring them, suggests to me, a guy with one eighth of a brain, that SVS may not be exactly the place to “find a problem with” someone’s theology before handing out honors.

        • Alexander, the point I was getting at is that if a theological institution that is relatively liberal couldn’t find fault with a hieromonk from very conservative traditions, and in fact showered him with commendations, that shows he’s not off-the-deep-end conservative.

  7. Anna Rowe says

    When the Lord calls, answer Him. We should embrace those who receive the calling. It would not be my place to interfere as a parent or friend. I don’t understand why this sex czar business would deter someone. It’s making a very creepy connection.

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      Many have received the call and many have chosen to intentionally refuse it. Alot of thought goes into that refusal, at least from my experience. The Orthodox Church, as far as a priest is concerned, is extremely brutish and harsh, at least in the GOA. Bishops rule priests, Parish Councils rule priests, long-term monied families rule priests. Not many people want to go through that meat grinder, and it IS a meat grinder, and has been so since I was a kid.

      There were alot of good priests out there, and a few still remain, but for the new comers and next generation I have no idea. I also know that there are an amazing amount of Great and faithful men that are NOT in the priesthood and are very clear why they are not in the priesthood. Too many in the church, at least the GOA, have staked out there power positions locally and nationally and they will not give them up, especially not for a priest out of Holy Cross. Older Priests won’t support a young priest, the bishop uses and abuses the young priest, and if the young priest darns cross a parish old-timer the Bishop get a call, in fact, many calls from many people. When this happens the Bishop does NOT side with the young priest or parish priest and so the meat grinder beginnings.

      Some survive, and come out the other end wiser for it and alot more tougher, but also alot more hesitent to help the next generation thinking “I’m not rocking the boat anymore, I’m almost out of this and want to just get out.” other, are too scared to even care. a few do, but very few, very, very few. That’s the reality of Orthodox Parish life. I’ve seen it play out since I was a kid. I do not blame young and talented men for saying no to that lunacy. Many other parts of the Orthodox Church are different. I hope so.

      Still it was an intentional refusal and it must be answered for before the Judgment Seat of Christ. I hope God has mercy and grace in this regard and takes all things into consideration.


      • Peter, you’re definately on to something here. I guess the bottom line is your last sentence: if someone has a vocation and they refuse it, then they must answer at the dread Judgment Seat of Christ, institutional lunacy be damned.

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          Your right George. I love and support my priest. Institutional lunacy be damned. If the Bishops won’t support our priests we the laity need to.

          I just hope God does not take it out on alot of good Greek and Serbian men that I know that went in to the priesthood just to have some old fart(s) mess with them, and the next thing you know they’re out or shipped around until they were worn down to the numb. Most stayed, but were exhaused, some left. I still think and pray for the ones that left.

          I know of one guy who was driven to alcoholism and divorce, fought a long time to get clean, and his life on track, but by then he wasn’t going back in and wasn’t going to be allowed to go back in because of the divorce. Now he is happy just being a chantor at a local church here in the chicagoland area, and he is at peace.Those are the guys I pray for and try very hard not to hate the people that drove them to this.

          Interesting though this man that left the priesthood dosn’t hate or regret his experience and kept his faith througout. In fact, it was his faith that got him out of alcoholism, develope a healthy relationship with his kids, and back on his feet.

          So if we want Grood and even Great Priest and Bishops be there for them. Even if it means getting involved when your scared to death to do it.

          Thanks George.


  8. Yes.
    I would be blessed to have my sons become priest. I have actually been encourageing them to get a trade and go to Seminary after highschool. Once we get a Bishop I am planning on going to seminary I dont think my health will let me be a priest but I would like to become a reader.

  9. Ivan Vasiliev says

    I had at one time entertained the thought of going to seminary. I still sometimes (actually oftentimes) feel a deep sense of calling to serve at the holy altar as a priest. But, when I see and hear the things I’ve seen and heard over the past few years, I think to myself, “Why would I intentionally put my soul at risk by getting involved with folks who seem to be living out St. John the Baptist’s accusation against the Pharisees (brood of vipers!)”. I’m not speaking of the priesthood as a whole or of the vast majority of our priests and bishops, but of the “institutional” corruption that has taken hold of the American jurisdictions. I’m not so naive as to believe that the ROC is completely devoid of this sickness, but I do believe it is infinitely healthier than anything we have here and certainly more so than that Turkish Village in Constantinople (the Phanar). I’ve said it before, and, in the light of this conversation, I’ll say it again: We would be much better off to go (temporarily) under the omophor of Moscow and get ourselves straightened out.
    How can we even imagine our sons as priests in the context of the things being said here and elsewhere? We need a complete clean up of the situation in this country and it is NOT going to emerge out of the miasma and chaos of the various American jurisdictions.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      You nailed it, Ivan. “Miasma” is about the only word that can describe our situation here in America.

    • Monk James says

      About thirty years ago, I was invited by a priest to serve as a guest speaker in his Sunday morning ‘adult class’.

      I intentionally left some time for Q&A, and one woman — obviously irritated and with concerns completely unrelated to my presentation — asked ‘Why do we have so many convert priests and seminarians now? They don’t really know us and our ways.’

      In reply, I asked her if she would encourage her own sons to be priests.

      ‘Absolutely not! You know how badly the priests are treated.’

      To which I said ‘And by whom are the priests so badly treated?!’


      The fact is that there are many young converts who attend seminary and are ordained with rather little experience of parish life. This is a very bad idea, as has been demonstrated over and over again. Such men are virtually unemployable as priests once their first efforts expose them as immature Christians.

      I recently learned that our OCA seminaries are now expecting that applicants will have at least five years’ experience as laymen in the parishes before they can be admitted. I might have the details of this wrong, but I’m sure that the trend has been identified, and that the trend is a good thing.

      • Patrick Henry Reardon says

        Father James remarks, “The fact is that there are many young converts who attend seminary and are ordained with rather little experience of parish life.”

        This is true—and lamentable.

        Here is a rule I have devised and implemented in the case of the only two men I have ever recommended for seminary:

        Those recommended for seminary will have functioned in a wide variety of ministries within the parish. They will have served in the choir or as chanters for the Offices. (This should start from at least the date of their Chrismation.) They must be completely at home with the liturgical texts and accustomed to singing in all eight tones. They will have served at least one term on parish council. They will have taught and/or supervised Sunday School. They will have spent at least one year training the acolytes. They will have served as supervisors for the parish’s teen group. They will have spent several years in serious theological study under the pastor’s tutelage. They must be able to read the Bible in Greek.

        I have never recommended anyone for seminary until he served in all these ministries for at least eight years.

        So far, I have recommended two such men for seminary. The Archdiocese has accepted one of them.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Fr Peter, I think you are on to something here. Perhaps every other priest in the the OC here in America will read your recommendations and internalize them.

        • Former AOC parishioner says

          Fr. Patrick, I sure wish your procedure had been the case for the new-convert Priest in the AOC parish in which I was received. If there ever was a man who could have used some Orthodox spiritual and liturgical formation before being thrown into the hornet’s nest of that AOC parish, it was him (even though he had decades of experience as an Evangelical pastor). The parish wasn’t ready for him; nor he for it. The result was nearly my complete undoing as a new convert myself, and probably that of a large portion of the former parishioners. That was all under Bp. Mark, which doesn’t exactly endear him to me, though I didn’t blame him at the time (others, I think, saw a bit more clearly some of his pastoral deficits–whether culpable or not, I can’t personally discern). In any case, I thank God for the safer refuge I found in an OCA parish near my home (with cradle-Orthodox Priests). I have great respect for many Bishops and Priests in the Orthodox Church in the U.S., both cradle and convert, but if what I have read is any indication, there are many unfortunate situations like my former one out there as well (with bad pastoral practices on the part of Bishops and Priests), and from my experience, even one is too many.

          Would that we all could learn from the discernment and experience of this Abbott:

  10. fatherpep@gmail.com says

    I would my son to do it the way I did. I had a full time professional career and was called to the priesthood (literally “drafted”) later in life. My livelihood or place of residence does not depend on a parish board, nor do I have to suffer fools or heretics. I just devote my self to being a priest as best as I can.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      And may your tribe increase, Father!

    • To be honest, this is the only way to begin a priesthood today, if one has any wisdom. I’ve recommended it to every man who has asked me about a vocation.

    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

      This, I think, maybe the model for the future. The abuse of parish antagonists (usually just a handful) and the unwillingness of some Bishops to assert their authority inside the parish (or, truth be told, sometimes siding with the antagonists) simply exacts too high a price on the priest and his family. Once priests figure out that enduring mean-spirited abuse is not the same thing as carrying your cross, more will pack their suitcases and look for the peaceful life that they prayed for all those years in the Liturgy.

      I’ve pastored small and large parishes. Now I pastor a small mission parish that I call an “intentional community.” All we do is come together to worship, and we pray and take care of one another. Last week a couple lost their restaurant (my area of Florida has rampant unemployment; we’ve been hit very hard by the economic downturn). They had to be out in two days and risked losing all their equipment if it couldn’t be moved. I got a call late that morning, saw them in the early afternoon, heard their plight, and sent an email out that evening. That next day people from the parish showed up all day long to help them pack — two hours here, three hours there, that sort of thing. Some even took a half-day off of work. We got them packed and moved. That’s what I mean by intentional community and I like it a lot.

      I’ve got a small business going on the side, hope to start something else, do some of this and that — not as stable yet as I want to be but it will get better. Not depending on the parish for my complete livelihood is freeing and it is also easier for the parish. I don’t think I will ever go back to it.

    • M. Stankovich says


      I would hope that you are exercizing some “rhetorical license” in the heat of “discussion” and got caught up in the moment. You suffer neither fools nor heretics; Fr. John seems to have had his share of “alcoholics, children of alcoholics, and sodomites” with their characteristic neurosis; Abouna Ioannes would quash the liberals with Amazon wish lists; and we’ve pretty much eliminated the “ethnic terrorist,” the “toxic parishioner,” and the remaining thousands of “bullheaded and blind sheep” whose future portends doom related to Kondratik. Oh, and of course, “the dead bury their own dead.” (Matt. 8:22)

      I’m thinking that 1) we should probably give significantly more consideration to the notion that these people may well be entering the kingdom of heaven before us (Matt. 21:31), or 2) figuring out how our seminaries will go about recruiting illegal aliens to fill these positions that white people don’t want.

      • Michael Bauman says

        And what is your respose Mr. Stankovich when your way of thinking and your person is challenged?

        Both Fr. John and Father Hans have endured a great deal at the hands of parish folk and even their own bishops. I’m equally sure that they have, largely, offered such abuse up to God in prayer and with as much thanksgiving as they could muster. However, that does not mean that they are obligated to keep slient, or allow such situtations to persist in the Church without comment or that they should allow such abuse to become normative (if it hasn’t already).

        The Church is a hospital to be sure and we should expect our fair share of deeply sinful people. However, the key is that 1) sin is recognized as sin-not celebrated, and 2) repentance. Lacking either in the people who assualt them, they have a reponsibility to call us all to account. That is one of the things priests do, don’t you think. Act in Christ’s stead in repeating the call to “repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand”?

        As we well know, however, the earthly reward for issuing such calls is the Cross, the block or the gaol both figuratively and literally.

      • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

        I’ve heard enough of “…they might be entering the kingdom of heaven before us…” and other misapplications of scripture used to justify mistreatment and abuse to last a lifetime. All dysfunction creates its own mythology to 1) allow the abuser to justify his abuse, and 2) to give the abused a rationale for taking it. In a Church setting we just use God-talk to create the myth.

        I have also learned that the practitioners of God-talk usually 1) have an interest in the maintaining the status-quo, or 2) have a smattering of theological knowledge but no hands-on pastoral experience.

        It’s up to the priest to determine the difference between abuse and the cross Christ has called him to carry. Most often they are two different things although priests tend to think that the abuse is part of the cross of the priesthood. In actual fact it is usually due to a breakdown of discipline and order.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Fr, the mythologies that priests must be subjected to unjst abuse for no reason at all needs to be developed. I for one, simply don’t believe that some adulterer who is on the PC because he runs a laundromat and thinks he’s God’s gift to the parish is qualified to call the shots for a parish.

          Yes, His Beatitude suffered horribly at the hands of the Stokovites, and has come out stronger for it, but he received his spiritual formation in a real monastery and he is a celibate who has no wife and children dependent on him. I don’t believe it’s right to subject a monk to abuse but if it were me, I would at least be thankful that my family isn’t suffering.

          What’s my point? We say we want only married men in the parish priesthood but we subject them to insane obstacles. And yes, as a PC member, I’ve been guilty of that myself.

          • M. Stankovich says

            If that is the sum of your response, “justify mistreatment,” than I think it is reasonable to conclude you have not heard it enough. You are the one that quotes Solzhenitsyn and preaches that words have power. I say for a priest to disparage anyone who still has the breath remaining in them to rise up again and repent. you need to re-evaluate what you are doing; and if it is just, as I suggested, a verbal expression of frustration, “your speech betrays you.” (Matt. 26:73)

            I was told by the chief psychiatrist on my first day of work, “If you feel physically threatened to fight, grab anything you can and beat them until they are no longer a threat, or help arrives.” What did St. Chrysostom say to you? You have your person and you have your voice, and that is the way of the saints. In any case, we both went in with our eyes open, did we not?

            I would suggests to you that not all “pastors” are priests and not all priests are “pastors.” Likewise, you appear especially shortsighted in your lack of appreciation for Christian Ministry that is not the ordained priesthood. Unfortunately you are not alone. Secondly, you cannot seem to appreciate that suffering is endemic to ministry, and not just the ordained priesthood, and I dare say you don’t want to trade “war stories” with me. Several times my family have stood over me in a trauma unit and said, “Anybody can do this job! Why you?” It very heard to explain that, no, not everyone can do this. And some are called.

          • Fr. Hans Jacobse says


            Mythologies replace the gospel, or even more pernicious, distort it. The only way to bring healing is to first bring these things into the light. Peter Papoutsis does just that upstream in way that is brutally frank but true. He understands a lot about how it works.

      • fatherpep@gmail.com says

        Thank you for making my case even clearer.

  11. StephenD says

    WOW ! let the games begin!


    • Great stuff. Proves that +Mark is out their still campaigning for the job. Pretty sad attempt at re-writing history. The more light shined on +Mark, the better.

    • It appears that the “drive by” blog dostruth has been scuttled. However, we will try and find a copy of it on the Internet. It is a terrific glimpse into what +Mark is spreading around the DOS. Funny how he is interfering in the life of another diocese. Naughty, naughty!

      • Amos, Nina Tkachuk Dimas posted a whole copy on Yahoo O-F, so you can still read it.

        I say good riddance to bad rubbish. The writer is lucky, most of his/her targets are tonsured monastics and therefore not likely to strike back with a lawsuit!

        • Helga,

          I wouldn’t go to the O-F if you put bamboo shoots under my nails and roasted me on a spit. Don’t be so sure about the lawsuit thing. It is so full of libelous trash, but it reveals the misrepresentation of facts and outright untruths that those who support +Mark ( and I can only hazard a guess as to where they are getting it from, wink-wink) are spreading around the DOS.

          It is sad to see how the DOS has suffered since +Mark went to Dallas. It’s an awful mess and truly a tragic and his shadow is still being cast on our beloved diocese.

      • Here is what was posted on that blog. I found the writing to be sensational and exaggerated. Seriously who says stuff like ” the defrocked priest and embezzler Robert Kondratick” and ” Those emails revealed all the secret plots that Fr. Joseph was involved in” Juvenile to say the least, sounds like a creative writing project of a middle schooler.
        Also, there is not much left on the google cash just a fake name: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:lLzg47aXShkJ:dostruth.blogspot.com/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

        A Tale of Two Candidates
        Right now, the OCA Diocese of the South is
        preparing for the annual assembly, but this time they will be electing a new
        bishop. There has been alot of (one-sided) rhetoric about the candidates,
        so I felt compelled to present a more balanced assessment of the two candidates,
        and who is more suited to be bishop of this large, diverse diocese.

        First of all, this post is not meant to
        assassinate anyone’s character. I want to simply analyze the facts a
        little more closely, expose a few things many readers are not aware of, and cut
        through the spin that’s out there.

        The two candidates are Bishop Mark (Maymon) and
        Father Gerasim (Eliel). I have had the pleasure to meet both men as they
        made their rounds in the DOS. Both men are friendly, but their
        personalities are very different. Bp. Mark is a softspoken, introspective
        man, and very humble (when someone asked why he didn’t defend himself against
        his attackers, he simply replied “Christians don’t stoop to their level”).
        Fr. Gerasim, on the other hand, is a very outgoing and gregarious man, a lively
        conversationalist who loves to tell stories and drop names of those he knows or
        has known.

        But the DOS election is not an election for
        Prom King, so it should not be based on personality, but on which candidate is
        most qualified to be the administrator and arch-pastor of the DOS. Below I
        will tell the backstory and qualifications of each man, and then explain why I
        think one of these candidates is the best choice.

        A Tale of Bishop MARK

        Bp. Mark was received into the Orthodox Church
        through the Antiochian Archdiocese in 1989. Previous to this, he earned
        his BA and MA in Biblical Studies from Oral Roberts University, and then was
        invited to teach Old Testament at Oral Roberts. From the moment he entered
        Orthodoxy until today, he has remained with the boundaries of the canonical
        Church. He went to St Vladimir’s Seminary and received the Master of
        Divinity in 1991. For several years, he worked in the field of mental
        health, counseling people. Then, in 1997, Bp. Antoun ordained him, and he
        worked as a simple parish priest for 7 years. In 2004, he had the honor of
        being chosen to be the first convert, non-Arab person to consecrated a bishop
        for the Antiochian Archdiocese.

        Everything seemed to gone very well for Bp.
        Mark for a few years. He was very well liked by many people in his
        diocese. But then he discovered that some of his parishes had members who
        were stealing money from the parish. He ordered a full audit of every
        parish in his diocese. Some of the culprits who this would affect sought
        Met. Philip’s backing, who in turn told Bp. Mark to back down. But Bp.
        Mark would not back down. Instead, he kept moving forward, even while Met.
        Philip convinced the Patriarchate to re-classify all the other bishops in his
        Archdiocese as auxillaries with no power of their own. Met. Philip
        threatened to send Bp. Mark to Alaska to silence him. But Met. Jonah of
        the OCA threw a life-preserver out to Bp. Mark, inviting him to join the OCA
        with the intention that he might become the Bishop of Dallas. Met. Philip
        consented to the transfer, and so the OCA now has Bp. Mark.

        In the late winter of 2011, there was a great
        turmoil in the OCA Synod. Met. Jonah was meeting with Moscow over the
        possibility of the OCA going back under Moscow. For this and other
        reasons, the entire OCA Synod told Met. Jonah to cease and desist, and to stop
        acting as the Pope of the OCA. Bp. Mark was placed in a particularly
        difficult position, because Met. Jonah wanted Bp. Mark to back him up. But
        Bp. Mark told him that he could not lie on his behalf. And so their
        friendship eventually turned sour.

        Bp. Mark had been assigned as administrator to
        the DOS, and so he went to Dallas. There, Fr. Joseph Fester (who was
        Chancellor of the DOS at that time), began to scheme to get rid of Bp.
        Mark. First, he brought forward many complaints about Fr. John Anderson,
        and told Bp. Mark that Fr. John needed to be disciplined for his negligence as a
        priest. Bp. Mark reviewed the evidence and acted decisively, temporarily
        suspending Fr. John in order to wake him up. But, as Fr. Joseph probably
        predicted, many of the Fr. John’s spiritual children were very angry about this,
        especially because this was late in Lent.

        The next thing that happened needs to be
        emphasized. Bp. Mark discovered a folder on the computer in the DOS
        office. The folder was not protected, but accessible to any employee of
        the DOS. In the folder, Bp. Mark discovered numerous email copies written
        by Fr. Joseph Fester that the Chancellor had saved in the file. Those
        emails revealed all the secret plots that Fr. Joseph was involved in, and his
        communications with the defrocked priest and embezzler Robert Kondratick, as
        well as communications with the deposed bishop Nikolai Sorevich. Bp. Mark
        forwarded these documents to Mark Stokoe to release to the public and expose the
        plots of Fr. Joseph Fester. As a result, the synod was moved to severely
        discipline Fr. Joseph, but Met. Jonah released Fr. Joseph to the
        Carpathian-Russian Diocese to protect him, despite the fact that the OCA Synod
        forbade him from transferring him.

        Much has been made of Bp. Mark’s two
        controversial decisions in Dallas. But if we remove emotion from the issue
        and look at it objectively (I don’t have any personal dog in this hunt), then
        Bp. Mark was firmly within his right to act as he did. First, as DOS
        Administrator, he had the right to temporarily suspend Fr. John Anderson in
        order to break him out of his negligence. The complaints that Fr. Joseph
        Fester brought to Bp. Mark were valid. Second, anyone who works in an
        office knows that there is no presumption of privacy when using a company-owned
        computer, especially when the files are in a non-protected file. If a
        company manager would have discovered such a file, he could have fired the
        employee immediately and sent the files to HR and senior management to deal with

        Since that time, some people in the DOS have
        turned on Bp. Mark, mostly because of people in Dallas. The new DOS
        Chancellor, Fr. Marcus Burch, has even called Bp. Mark “a polarizing figure” at
        the Seattle Assembly. But does this properly characterize the man?
        It is more accurate to say that Bp. Mark acted decisively, even when the
        decision would be unpopular, in order to preserve order in the Church.
        Those who disagree with him have been vocal — and very disrespectful of his
        office as a canonical OCA bishop. It is these voices that are polarizing,
        not Bp. Mark himself. One of these dissenting voices, Fr. Justin
        Fredericks of Texas, even went so far as to send out a letter to the DOS
        attacking Bp. Mark, disrespecting him (calling him “that man”), and trying to
        have him removed from the election ballot. Rightly, the DOS deans removed
        Fr. Justin’s position as dean, but the damage was already done. Another
        voice, a layperson named George Michalopolos, has used his blog to attack Bp.
        Mark. All the while, Bp. Mark has returned kindness for insults, and not
        addressed his attackers. I think this is to his credit.

        A Tale of Father Gersaim

        Fr. Gerasim entered into the Orthodox Church
        through the Moscow Patriarchate in 1980 while a college student. A year
        left, he joined the monastery of St Herman in Platina, CA, which at that time
        was under ROCOR, which was not in communion with most of the Orthodox world
        (including the OCA).

        Fr. Gerasim did not complete his undergraduate
        studies at this time, but became a dedicated monk. But during the course
        of the 80’s, things began to go awry at St. Herman’s Monastery. Fr. Herman
        Podmoshensky, the abbot, was suspended by ROCOR due to accusations against
        him. As we now know, numerous accusations of sexual abuse were beginning
        to surface during the 80’s. Without a doubt, Fr. Gerasim heard these
        accusations. As he admits, all the monks evenually left except for himself
        and Monk John (who has since left Orthodoxy all together). During these
        years, Fr. Gerasim was ordained a priest in January 1995 by a canonical bishop
        of the Russian Orthodox Church: Met. John of St. Petersburg. But as Fr.
        Gerasim was not under this bishop, nor in communion with him, many suspect that
        this ordination is illicit (or at least uncanonical).

        It would not be until 2000, after years under
        Fr Herman, and also under the completely non-canonical bishop Pangratious
        Vrionis, a known, convicted child molester. Fr. Gerasim moved the
        monastery to the Serbian Archdiocese, and became the new abbot of St. Herman
        Monastery. Since then, they have normalized relations with the OCA.

        A little more than three years ago, Fr.
        Gerasim’s Godfather and friend Met. Jonah requested the Serbian Bp. Maxim to
        release Fr. Gerasim to the OCA with the intent that he be elected as the new
        bishop of Alaska (replacing deposed bishop Nikolai). However, after
        touring Alaska for some time, it became obvious that the Alaskans did not want
        Fr. Gerasim. This was due in part to the fact that, under ROCOR, Fr.
        Gerasim set up a monastic skete at Monk’s Lagoon. He did not have rights
        to the property, and ROCOR had no presence in Alaska. So Fr. Gerasim was
        unapologetically infringing on the canonical territory of the OCA. The
        Alaskans did not forget this.

        In the meantime, Fr. Gerasim began to attend
        seminary for the first time. He started his studies at St. Vladimir’s
        three years ago (just graduating in May 2012). He did well in his studies,
        and has publicly stated that his time at seminary has “opened his mind.”

        So Where Do We Stand?

        With the death of Archbishop
        Dimitri of Dallas in the Summer 2011, the DOS began to concentrate on vetting
        candidates for bishop. As the year went on, four men were brought up and
        interviewed: Bp. Mark, Fr. Gerasim, Fr. Meletios (Webber), and Fr. Alexios
        (Trader). The latter two, for various reasons did not make the final
        cut. Bp. Mark has been opposed by some (mostly in Texas), but remains on
        the ballot. And Fr. Gerasim has received the endorsement of the DOS

        But who is the better candidate? It is
        obvious that the deans have endorsed Fr. Gerasim as the “anti-Mark” (meaning “in
        place of” Bp. Mark). They do not want controversy in the DOS, and do not
        want to upset Dallas.

        But the facts about these candidates are
        obvious. Bp. Mark is man of character and deep integrity. He has
        years of parish experience, and experience as a bishop. He is willing to
        stand up for what he feels is right, not what is popular — even if it means
        some will turn against him. It is obvious that he will be the better
        administrator. He stands for complete transparency, and he will probably not put
        up with the old croneyism of the OCA.

        Fr. Gerasim is more outgoing and
        talkative, but that is not a qualification for a bishop. And when
        accusations about Abbot Herman surfaced, Fr. Gerasim did not act
        decisively. It wasn’t until 2000 when he finally acted, and only with the
        full support of the other monks (as he himself stated publicly in one parish he
        spoke at). His only pastoral experience is in the monastery, and in the
        field of evangelism. He has only recently been educated, and has not had
        sufficient time to process all of this newly gained information. It is my
        opinion that Fr. Gerasim is not prepared to be a bishop. He has vacillated
        in the past, and will likely do so again as bishop. He might easily be
        swayed by his affection for Met. Jonah (or his friends). How will Fr.
        Gerasim deal with the fact that Robert Kondratick continues to administer the
        parish in Venice, Florida, and that they refuse to have an attached
        priest? How will he deal with the Hierodeacon in Miami who ran off to
        marry a man in California, only to return 6 months later? How will he deal
        with the forces in Dallas who want to control him for their own ends? How
        will he act in concord with the rest of the OCA Synod, when his mentor Met.
        Jonah cannot do so?

        Although Fr. Gerasim is being pushed by many
        priests in the DOS, it is obvious that Bp. Mark is the more qualified and
        experienced candidate. Bp. Mark cannot be bought or swayed, which is
        precisely what upsets Dallas. If the DOS elects Fr. Gerasim, it will only
        prove that a small group of angry naysayers in Dallas are able to intimidate the
        entire Diocese into to hating a man who has done nothing but act as a
        bishop. I hope the DOS will be more intelligent about this, and not act on
        emotions and folklore.

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

        • Elijah,

          Thanks for catching it and recovering so that everyone can see what an outrage this is. Remember dostruth blogger, once you post it on the Internet, even if you try and cover your tracks and pull down your blog a copy of it is out there.

          • Reading it again since this morning, the thought occurred to me that the “DOS truth” blogger may be none other than Bishop Mark himself.

            For some reason, this idea dispelled the anger the blog made me feel, and replaced it with a great deal of sadness and compassion for Bishop Mark. No, I still don’t think he should be a diocesan bishop. I just think this would give us a look inside a very confused man.

            Perhaps he’s thinking that he’s supposed to win the election, and it’s just crazy that all this stuff happened to make him look bad. Here, he actually managed to get the diocese to actually pay him to campaign for himself, and he’s been working at this for a year and a half now, his competition is some fuzzball hieromonk who just graduated from seminary a month ago, and he STILL doesn’t have a lock on the election.

            I really just want to grab Bishop Mark and shake him, and tell him that I don’t think he’s a bad man, but that, to phrase things as kindly as I can, he has a very seriously distorted sense of reality with respect to this situation. Seriously, if Archbishop Dmitri says it’s like you don’t have a soul, YOU HAVE A VERY SERIOUS PROBLEM that election is not going to fix.

            If Bishop Mark hopes to salvage a fruitful episcopal ministry somewhere at some point, he must do what Met. Jonah asked him to do in the beginning, first apologizing to the people of Dallas, then going on a long trip to a monastery to be formed in ascesis and prayer.

            • Helga, my first thought was, “Bishop Mark doesn’t write very well.” Sad if it were true.

            • Who ever this person is, he or she really has little knowledge or Fr. Gerasim. A confused impression of his pastoral experience, historically inaccurate presumptions of events and most certainly, underestimating his leadership experience and style and strength. Also a child like and faulty characterization of his personality, clearly meant to demean.
              It does sound like a pathetic song of a poor envious soul who is indeed in an alternate reality.

          • lexcaritas says

            Yes, and it is full of inaccuracies, fabrications and distortiions.


        • Carl Kraeff says

          Very slick. One of the best written hit pieces I have ever seen. The point remains that Father Gerasim is smart and educated (summa cum laude from SVOTS); he is a true monk; theologically very conservative; extremely self-effacing and a servant-leader; and most importantly, he is the candidate of all the DOS deans and most DOS priests.

          None of this piece nor the arguments of Nina or Vanyabanya (Nicholas Skovran) of the Orthodox Forum (on Yahoo) is changing my mind. If you get the chance to provide input to your parish lay representative to the Special DOS Assembly, please tell them whom you prefer to be our next bishop.

          • I find it interesting that the site was up in the morning and down by noon. Either the person who put it up got a ton of flack real fast, realized what he or she had done and thought better of it, or it was totally crank and meant as some sort of joke.

            The idea, even for me, that +Mark put it up is too far-fetched. But I think it reveals how twisted things have become in the DOS that such a permutation of the truth can now be even thought of and shared. It’s like a game of Telephone gone really bad! But it should prove, again, that +Mark has had a deleterious effect on our diocese.

            One can question the basic sanity of the blogger when, on the one hand he can assert that “(Bp. Mark) didn’t defend himself against his attackers, he simply replied “Christians don’t stoop to their level” yet on the other hand +Mark can steal emails and improperly discipline Fr. Anderson. I guess that is a higher level.

            Stay alert. +Mark is still out there lurking on the edges and waiting for a call from the Synod. This is not over.

            • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

              The writing of that long advertisement for Bishop Mark Maymon isn’t worth noticing, except for its looney-tunes style and mistakes. The guy even points out that Bishop Mark Maymon immediately sent a bunch of files from a Church computer in Dallas to Mark Stokoe!!!! It’s as if the guy is declaring that Bishop Mark Maymon works for Mark Stokoe!!!! In fact, he “tattled” or “snitched’ to Mark Stokoe, rather than, first, approaching Father Joseph Fester, then approaching the Metropolitan, asking if he could present these matters to the Holy Synod. No. he just tattled to Mark “Stokoe.”
              Then he refers to “communications with the deposed bishop Nikolai Sorevich!” This indicates the writer is not in the OCA, but is being advised by someone in the OCA who used to be in, probably, that archdiocese of the Antiochene Patriarchate, for everyone in OCA knows that Bishops are supposed to be monks, and in accordance with the courtesy afforded to those who have “left family” to join Christ, family names if used, are put in parentheses. The retired and never ever deposed and never ever suspended and never ever subjected to any disciplinary actions at all, but who MEEKLY obeyed the instructions of a former “primate” (the one who looked like one), and took a leave of absence. (So far they have not succeeded (or dared?) to install another hierarch on the see in which Bishop Nikolai was canonically installed and never canonically removed.) Bishop Nicolai, subjected to cancer and the treatments that go with it, continued to actively serve Christ’s Holy Church in Australia and then, returning for a long course of treatment to America, he nevertheless travelled to Serbia and served there in many parishes, cathedrals, and monasteries.
              Recently, he served the entire cycle of services from Palm Sunday through Pascha, and again at Pentecost, at the Los Angeles Holy Transfiguration Cathedral of ROCOR’s San Francisco diocese.
              The day before yesterday, he served at the big Serbian Church in Fair Oaks, California, on the occasion of the annual Serbian Feast: ‘Vidovdan”. “Deposed?” I don’t think so. Bishop Nikolai’s parents were simple immigrants from Herzegovina who settled and struggled in Montana, while Bishop Nikolai, while earning two MBAs and graduating from the Christ the Saviour Seminary in Johnstown, as well as the Theological Faculty in Belgrade, always supported himself and he continued to support himself as a Priest in the Serbian Diocese here, the Greek Diocese of San Francisco, and then the OCA, where (still working in a high executive capacity in the Clark County District Attorney’s office) he formed and helped Christ grow the parish of St. Paul the Apostle in Las Vegas, while also becoming the Diocesan Chancellor, before being pulled out of his parish to become a Bishop, first a vicar, then the ruling Bishop of the Alaskan Diocese, which he supported with all his resources including financial ones. His Serbian family name is SORAICH (means from the mountain: “S” (from) ora (mountain). It’s not “Sorevich.” (Sounds like a lower slobovian variation on Tsarevich, no?) It’s too bad the OCA couldn’t have got a REAL Bishop from Antioch, like Bishop Basil. I often said before i retired that I’d be happy to be in any expanded Local American Church with Bishop Basil as the Primate. He’s their star, their flower. They don’t have anyone else of his calibre in that Antiochene Archdiocese. Their western bishop has scholarly pretensions, but presbyters under him write a lot of his stuff, I understand. He’s the one that demanded that women in some parish in Alaska quit wearing head scarves, because “Yes, the Virgin Mary wore a head-covering, and when you attain to her holiness, THEN you can copy her.” Then there’s Antoon…he’s like a kind of Mutt to Metropolitan Philip’s Jeff…they’ve been together for an awfully long time. Bishop Antoon, like Joseph, is also very concerned with proper costume. He asked a Priest in my Diocese some time ago, whom he met in public when the latter was wearing a Riassa, “Why are you wearing THAT? Do you wear it in the SHOWER, too?” The Priest manned up and replied, ‘Your Grace, my Bishop expects us to look like Orthodox Priests. Do you, Your Grace, wear that black suit and clergy shirt with roman collar in the shower?” I know and love Metropolitan Philip: his dedication to simple, straightforward practice of charity, trumps all failings, and places him very high morally in the ranks of Orthodox hierarchs world-wide. Bishop Mark, it seems, undermined him. Of course, Metropolitan Philip would rather let him go and get a fresh start, than have him remain while keeping the fires of opposition stoked through passivity. Too bad Bishop Mark thought h had to be a policeman in the OCA, too. It’s a good thing that the parish in Venice, Florida, is retaining Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick as “lay administrator,” even if such an idea offends those who hold the distorted “conciliarity” ideology. If I were ONLY a layman, I’d prefer to be part of that NOW thriving community, than in another Florida parish; for example, the Christ the Saviour Cathedral of Miami, where Bishop Mark Forsberg serves with his life-long companion and Archdeacon, Gregory Burke, wouldn’t you? I hope another monk on a hierarchical career path or whatever, gets the name “Mark”. It needs rehabilitation very badly. There was the MP Bishop Mark (Shavikin), much praised by (former Abbot)Herman Podmoshensky, who was a Valaam monk who joined the Metropolia and served in San Francisco, until it was learned that he was suffering from syphilis: since he was sharing an apartment at the time with Father and Mrs. George Benigsen and their infant son, when then-Father Mark revealed to them that he was suffering from syphilis. Father George demanded of Archbishop John Shahovskoy that Father Mark be expelled or they would quit. Father Mark disappeared, re-appeared in Phoenix for a while, then was received (in those days’ they’d take anybody) into the American Exarchate of the MP. They made him Bishop of San Francisco. He finally died of the dread disease in its tertiary stages…it was sad: the always difficult parishioners in his parish didn’t like him to serve.The only thing they permitted him was to sleep in the choir loft. Then there’s the afore-mentioned Bishop Mark (Forsberg), a close friend from “way-back” of Archbishop Nathaniel’s. And now there’s this one, Bishop Mark (Maymon), who apparently likes police work.
              Speaking of police work: it’s become a prominent aspect of American Orthodoxy in the OCA, with its new “stewardship of the law.” After creating and blessing the “Special Investigations Commission”, perhaps the title of the proposed ‘Sex Czar” should be, rather, “Chief of the Sex Police!” I think this allows for a more imaginative augmentation of this vital function of the Church.
              .If there’s a chief, then there should be, oh, diocesan patrolmen, and a bureau of detectives!

              • Heracleides says

                “If there’s a chief, then there should be, oh, diocesan patrolmen, and a bureau of detectives!”

                With you, what, assuming the role of snitch… er, Confidential Informant? (Yes, I’ve been watching way to many police procedurals of late.)

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                Your Grace Bishop Tikhon:

                I find your attacks on our Antiochian bishops highly offensive. You are right Bishop Basil is an excellent bishop. Do not judge His Eminence Archbishop Joseph so harshly. I have heard that even our Patriarch has told women not to wear head scarfs. Antiochian women stopped wearing head scarfs because in their society a head scarf on a woman is a symbol of being Muslim. I have served under Bishop Antoun for over 8 years and find him to be a devout and godly man who cares about his priests. I find the story about his accosting a priest in a cassock hard to believe since I just came from a conference during which several priests wore their cassocks and not a word was said. Our other bishops are all good men who serve Christ and His Church with distinction. Under Metropolitan Philip the Antiochian Archdiocese has made great progress in every way. Please do not attack our Antiochian Bishops or our Archdiocese in the future. Orthodox should work together, not attack each other.

                Asking Your Archpastoral Blessings

                Archpriest John W. Morris

                • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                  I stand by the facts I reported relative to Bishop Joseph and Bishop Antoon. I continue to maintain my high opinion of Bishop Basil, Metropolitan Philip, but I forgot to mention how much I like Bishop Demetri. I don’t believe I’ve attacked anyone. I assure Archpriest John that I know how to really attack if I feel like it: if he thinks my post was an attack, I think he would benefit by getting out in the real world more. Can not converted American females in Eagle River, Alaska be REAL “Antiochian women” if they wear the head “scarfs” (scarves) IN CHURCH in accordance with the Holy Apostle Paul’s injunction? The American females in Eagle River Alaska were told nothing of Arabic Christian customs, nor warned about looking Muslim: they were told that only when they reached the same degree of Holiness as the Theotokos should they wear head coverings.
                  I converted as a 28 year old adult 52 years ago, and I still feel like bashing someone when I STILL hear (from mostly, but not entirely, graduates of one theological seminary mock, disparage, ridicule and laugh at converts, especially new ones, who (if female) always wear a head covering in Church and who try to follow ascetic practices, such as the Jesus Prayer, and wear prayer ropes, or who carefully sign the Holy Cross (and do not do what I’ve seen in some parishes of another ‘jurisdiction; namely, “The Sign of the Banjo”).

                • Monk James says

                  Archpriest John W. Morris says (June 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm):

                  ‘Your Grace Bishop Tikhon:

                  I find your attacks on our Antiochian bishops highly offensive. You are right Bishop Basil is an excellent bishop. Do not judge His Eminence Archbishop Joseph so harshly. I have heard that even our Patriarch has told women not to wear head scarfs. Antiochian women stopped wearing head scarfs because in their society a head scarf on a woman is a symbol of being Muslim. I have served under Bishop Antoun for over 8 years and find him to be a devout and godly man who cares about his priests. I find the story about his accosting a priest in a cassock hard to believe since I just came from a conference during which several priests wore their cassocks and not a word was said. Our other bishops are all good men who serve Christ and His Church with distinction. Under Metropolitan Philip the Antiochian Archdiocese has made great progress in every way. Please do not attack our Antiochian Bishops or our Archdiocese in the future. Orthodox should work together, not attack each other.

                  Asking Your Archpastoral Blessings

                  Archpriest John W. Morris’

                  First, I want to say that internecine and fratricidal, almost suicidal behavior among us orthodox Christians in America must stop. Fr John Morris is spot on, here.

                  Still, we must acknowledge the mistakes we’ve made, and continue to make, which work against us as we strive for a union of polity which reflects our unity of faith as we strive to build an american orthodox church.

                  While I have no way of knowing the circumstances of Bp Tikhon Fitzgerald’s experience with Bp Antoun Khoury, I can say for a fact that a priest of my acquaintance, a dear friend here in New Jersey, was accosted by Bp Antoun in exaclly the same way as was the priest whose experience was adduced by Bp Tikhon.

                  We were attending a dinner in honor of something or other, and when Bp Antoun saw this OCA priest in his rason, he said ‘Do you wear that in the shower?’

                  I don’t remember just what the priest said in response, but I’m sure that it was appropriate.

                  Perhaps this is Bp Antoun’s stock response to clergymen who appear in public in the rason. With no prejudice to Fr John Morris’s recent experience, Bp Antoun seems very boorish, and might better not be let out in public, so as to preserve the good name of the antiochian jurisdiction in America.

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    In some cultures, that kind of comment is considered to be a friendly one; a comment that a teammate would make. However, I have never interacted with Bishop Antoun so I do not know f that was the case here.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      His Grace Bishop Antoun is widely known for his visceral dislike of anything that smacks of monasticism and his desire not to be seen as a foreign peasant.

                      Carl, they were not friendly remarks.

                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                    Bishop Antoun has been my bishop for over 8 years. I have found him to be a loving and godly bishop. Please do not criticize him or any other Orthodox bishop in public. Instead clean up your own house. The image that one gets of the OCA from this and other internet sites is hardly positive. You should not have a public fight about who is going to be the bishop of Dallas or about the authority of your metropolitan. If you have disagreements, go into a room close the door and resolve them in a Christian way that does not make the Orthodox Church look bad. All the arguments on the internet in the OCA only discourage people who might be considering converting to Orthodoxy.. The Orthodox Church in America should not allow itself to be infected with the dysfunction that has all but destroyed American politics.

                    Archpriest John W. Morris

                    • Monk James says

                      Especially now in the early 21st century, it seems to be a very bad idea to restrict open and public conversation about The Church, especially regarding the clergy and the hierarchy.

                      Long gone are the days when it took years for important letters to reach the people who most needed to know their contents.

                      We — all of us — must do our best at all times to be faithful to the Gospel, and to challenge each other when we fall short.

                      Backroom church politics, with or without cigar smoke, is ended, over, done, and should never come back.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    monk James,

                    If you believe “Fr John Morris is spot on, here,” and we must acknowledge the mistakes we’ve made,” why not just send an email to Bishop Antoun, telling him directly you find his behaviour “boorish?” Why bother everyone with your gossip? Do you somehow imagine your story benefits anyone “as we strive for a union of polity which reflects our unity of faith?” It’s as if Joan Rivers is making guest appearances, and if she happens to nail you or someone you respect, it’s all part of the show – “no hard feelings!”

                    Perhaps Mr. Michalopulos could develop a new rating button based on the masks of the theater: click the “smile mask” for “a chide – hey, it was all in good fun!” and the “sad mask” for “cowards say many truths in jest.” Is this really the direct you want to lead this discussion, monk James?

                    • Monk James says

                      Fr John Morris was pleading for more civility among us, I think, and I agree with him for that.

                      Bp Antoun isn’t participating in this conversation AFAIK, so it would be of no help for me to bring him in.

                      What would help, though, is for his antiochian brothers to coach him so that he stops embarrassing himself and them and The Church with his boorish behavior.

                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                    Perhaps his Grace was reacting to some people who judge a priest’s Orthodoxy by the length of their beard and hair and whether or not they always wear a cassock. Such people exist and have caused a great deal of trouble in American Orthodoxy.. I do not care if a priest wears a cassock in a place where I would not, but it offends me if he implies that I am less Orthodox than he is because I do not risk a heat stroke by wearing a cassock in Mississippi, which is extremely humid and hot most of the year.
                    Given the problems caused by some monastics, any sensible person would be leery of monasticism. We have all sorts of examples that can be cited of American monastics who have been a source of problems for the Church. Blanco, Holy Transfiguration in Brookline, and other monastics have caused schism and scandal in the Church. Some monastics try to persuade non-monastics to live a monastic style of life. Some monks and nuns have tried to interfere in the most intimate aspects of marriage of people who come to them for spiritual advice and teach a non-Orthodox Augustinian view of sexuality. Some tell a convert who was received by Chrismation that they are not really Orthodox and need a “corrective baptism.” I have heard more than once that a monk or nun has told people not to listen to their local priest because he is too lax. Monks who baptize children from my parish without even having the courtesy to inform me that they planned to baptize one of my spiritual children.
                    Thus, there are legitimate reasons to be somewhat leery of monastics. Especially in America where monasteries tend to act as independent units and are not under proper supervision by the local bishop or work with the local clergy. One problem is that monastics under one bishop do not show proper respect for the responsibilities of a priest under a different bishop for the spiritual supervision of his flock.
                    I am not condemning all monastics, just the ones who cause problems by their lack of respect for the local parish clergy and those who interfere in areas that do not concern them by questioning the judgment of the local bishop on how to receive converts.
                    We must be very careful not to allow ourselves to be lured into phariseeism by becoming so concerned with externals that we forget what is really important. No one should judge the spirituality of any other person.

                    Archpriest John W. Morris

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Father John, you are correct on all of your points but to me they merely point up the reason for bishops to take and active and positive role in developing monastaries and calling the monks to obedience rather than allowing them to wag the dog.

                      Monastaries need to grow as part of the growth of the Church in conjunction with and under the guidance of the bishops in who’s diocese they reside.

                      People in the Church, many of us, have a longing for a deeper communion with God that monasticism at its best exemplifies. Unfortunately, we often do not have the discernment necessary to understand the difference between a healthy monastary and an unhealthy one or the difference in discipline between dedicated monastics and lay folks in the world.

                      That is exactly why Bp Basil has the policy in place that anyone wishing to go to a monastary for any more that a weekend visit must receive his blessing. Not saying its always followed, but it seems sensible to me.

                      As no Orthodox, priest or otherwise should presume the quality of one’s spiritual life by the style of their dress–it works both ways. One should not just assume that those wearing cassocks are doing so in a Pharsitical way. Just sayin’

                      I’ve seen it be a really positive thing. Most of the time I suspect it is not noticed as much as we think it is given the bizarre manner of dress that is common in today’s world.

                    • Yes, thanks, Father John! I was probably, indeed, “reacting to some people who judge a priest’s Orthodoxy by the length of their beard and hair and whether or not they always wear a cassock.” The “some people”, though, is problematic. The ONLY person who has ever commented unfavorably on my attire since becoming Orthodox in September 1960, is His Grace Bishop Antoon, and he USUALLY does that whenever we meet before anything else.
                      It usually goes something LIKE this; “Tikhon, why are you always trying to look like a Russian?”
                      This insulting question is actually the illogical “complex (or double) question
                      . First, it has never been established by Bishop Antoon or anyone else that anything at all in my appearance is Russian. I do NOT look Russian or like a Russian. I personally believe that Bishop Antoon is uncomfortable as a “foreigner” and that like many of his generation, etc., he places great store in looking like a “real” or “Natural” American. That’s why he prefers the roman collar and the tasteful clergy suit. God forbid anyone on the street would ask him what he was or where he came from—-everybody knows he’s a Catholic or High Anglican Normal, Acceptable, Successful member of the 100 per cent American ilk.
                      Not only do I not look like a Russian (and I did NOT say all non-semites look alike to semites), I don’t want to look like a Russian. I know I’m an American, and I can put a checkered rag on my head and a braided circlet atop it, and I’ll still be an American.
                      What a terrible insult! Worst of all, he obviously thinks I should be embarrassed by his “frank telling of the truth.” I’m tempted to use one of M.Stankovich’s imaginative spellings (like “drole”)—–I think he wrote something was “stupit.”
                      I always tried to take Bishop Antoon’s crudity in stride and not reply in kind; however, when I heard from one of my Priests (and his Lebanese-American wife) that, in a visit to Phoenix where the Priest’s wife’s home parish is located, Bishop Antoon had asked the Priest “What, do you wear that in the shower, too,” I almost lost it. However, I was saved from sinning by the Priest’s report that he had answered, properly, that he was attired as his Bishop expected him to be attired.. Then he asked Bishop Antoon, looking at him in his tight black clergy suit and Roman collar, “And what about you, YOur Grace, do you wear THAT in the shower?’ Bishop Antoon did not reply at all, and someone else came up and changed the subject. Of course, Father John, it’s a free country and you are free to intimate that I tell lies here, in your freedom. Freedom CAN be dangerous—ask Adam and Eve!

                    • Fr John, I must echo Mr Bauman here but go further. First we must establish that these monastics whom you talk about –the ones who are spreading disinformation–are canonical. I have a feeling that they are not. Certainly the examples of HT in Brookline or Blanco in Texas were not canonical. If they are not canonical, then that would end it.

                      However, if they are, then it is the duty of the bishops to take the bull by the horns. Unfortunately, they will not do so because they really can’t. The only way that these problems will be solved is if we have a true American-wide Holy Synod. To do that however would mandate true unification and at the very least a maximal degree of autonomy, if not actual autocephaly. Therein lies the rub. Nobody wants to cut the apron strings because we all want to be able to go home to Mama when the going gets rough.

                      Forgive me if my words are sharp, I mean no insult to you but the plain fact of the matter is we can never get around this conundrum. Truth be told, we don’t want to.

                    • Jesse Cone says

                      Fr. John Morris decries monasticism using the following formula:

                      Given the problems caused by some _________, any sensible person would be leery of _________.

                      The obvious analog to monasticism is marriage, and that formula seems to hold. That being said, I am personally called to the married life, and must therefore try to make my marriage Christ-like, despite the counter-examples that would make all sensible people leery of the institution. I would venture to say my monastic friends feel the same way about the sacramental life they are called into.

                      I bring this up, knowing that it’s not entirely to the points of this discussion, because I get frustrated when people see monasticism as either “more Orthodox than marriage” or as an analog to a career rather than a sacramental undertaking. Even the best intentioned, prudential, and necessary warnings about monastic life can serve to obscure our focus of what monasticism should be and cause harm, especially to those considering their monastic calling.

                      As for the questions like “How should my parish interact with monastics and monasteries?” I think a good place to start is the expectation of a healthy, symbiotic relationship.

                      Perhaps the precursor to skepticism (cynicism?) of monastics is the belief that monasticism is a magic bullet — it cures everything by making it “more Orthodox”. This is, of course, misguided. I see know reason to think, for example, that a monastic priest is inherently more trustworthy than a married one, and vice versa.

                    • Monk James says

                      Archpriest John W. Morris says (June 30, 2012 at 9:20 pm):

                      (referring to Bp Antoun):
                      ‘Perhaps his Grace was reacting to some people who judge a priest’s Orthodoxy by the length of their beard and hair and whether or not they always wear a cassock…..’


                      It seems necessary to clarify two points here.

                      First, I can say for a fact that Bp Antoun’s ‘shower’ remark was provoked by nothing more than seeing an OCA priest in his rason at a restaurant. BpA was out of line in his rudeness, regardless of any personal concerns such as suggested by Fr John Morris here.

                      While I was wearing my rason at the same event, as were several more priests, I’m not aware that BpA said anything about the ‘shower’ to anyone else; he certainly said nothing to me. Perhaps he was properly chastened by the one priest’s riposte. Had BpA insulted me about my rason, I can’t say for sure how I would have reacted, but I know that I wouldn’t have been as quick-witted as that priest.

                      People might be wondering why I mentioned BpA by name at the same time as I would not identify another bishop earlier. The difference is that the anecdote I related about my being ‘called’ (or not) described a private conversation, while BpA’s misbehavior and cruel remarks were made in public, in a room full of people, and loudly. People around here are still taking about it and wondering what’s wrong with BpA.

                      The priest he accosted replied appropriately in the same room full of people, and loudly enough for people to hear him. The priest was not disrespectful. He merely offered a rejoinder as silly as BpA’s original statement. No harm, no foul.

                      BTW: Since Bp Tikhon described a similar incident with the same rude vocabulary, it seems that BpA does this habitually. This is not good, no matter his reasons or FrJM’s rationalizations of them.

                      Secondly, in this same note, FrJM goes on at great length to describe undesirable behavior among monks and nuns. Other people have pointed out that such activity is generally the province of a lunatic fringe, not of stable, canonically sound monastics.

                      What struck me most about this list of monastic misbehavior is that it’s not limited to aggressively ignorant monks and nuns. I’m aware of perfectly canonical parish priests who’ve wrongly and ignorantly told people just about the same things and worse.

                      This doesn’t make me leery of priests in general, but it certainly makes me more appreciative of our good and holy priests, who are certainly the majority of our clergy, and I thank God for them.

              • G. Sheppard says

                Unfortunately, Metropolitan Philip’s “failings” have greatly “trumped” his ability to be charitable as of late. People just don’t trust him the way they used to. It’s good to know you continue to think so highly of him, though, Your Grace. Your loyalty continues to astound. – Bishop Joseph is my bishop and frankly, I have been concerned for a long time that he was angry with me for all the obvious reasons so you can imagine my surprise when Bishop Joseph gave my priest permission to give my son an Orthodox funeral. I did not ask for this. It was OFFERED. – Grace trumps “scholarly pretensions,” in my book. If you’re willing to look past Metropolitan Philip’s failings, perhaps can overlook Bishop Joseph’s, as well.

                • another one says


                  I am confused. Is it not the normal thing to do when a parishioner dies to have a funeral? Why would such an offer be made? Was your son not Orthodox? And what would the anger of your bishop have to do with a Christian burial (or not?) What are the obvious reasons for your bishop’s anger?

                  You seem to be in a situation that has much more to do with personalities than with the Gospel….
                  You are in my prayers.

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    Well, “Another One,” I can see why you’re “confused.” With so many questions, one would HAVE to be confused to jump to such a ridiculous conclusion. I’ll try to be more concrete. My point wasn’t why the situation existed (GOOGLE it) or about my son. My point was that Bishop Joseph was very gracious and kind.

                    In the future, may I suggest something my mother taught me: Do not press for personal details if they are not freely offered, because if the person wanted you to know, they would tell you. Manners 101. – What sort of ignoramus peppers a grieving mother with questions regarding the spiritual state of her deceased son? (That was a rhetorical question, in case you missed that.) I guess I’ll have to state the obvious, since you are clearly right in your assessment that you are terribly confused: My son is off limits.

                    • StephenD says

                      Bless you Gail and I will remember you and your son in my prayers

                    • another one says


                      I do not even know where to begin to Google, but I can do this.

                      Please forgive me, as I was not thinking. In no way was I intending to cause you pain. You will indeed be in my prayers and your son as well.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Another One: Thank you for your kind words. Please forgive ME for misunderstanding your intention and jumping down your throat. If you want to learn how to GOOGLE, contact me off-line and I’ll teach you. 🙂


                      StephenD: Your prayers are much appreciated (and apparently, needed).

          • Carl, that was my take of Abbott Gerasim as well. What I liked is when he said to us that “the job of a bishop is to be a pastor to his pastors.” I bet 98% of all priests in America wished that at the very least they were led and not sandbagged by their bishops whenever some lay antagonist raises a stink because he forgot Bulbanian Liberation Day.

            That makes sense, after all the real work of the Church is done at the parish (or monastery) level. Priests and spiritually aware laymen are the ones who need to be empowered.

          • Jesse Cone says

            Carl, you thought that was slick? Aside from judgments of the writer’s facility with language and the obviousness of the writer’s purposes the article is so wrong about so many, many things it’s hard for anyone who has been paying attention to give it much weight.

            Mistakes like thinking +Nikolai is deposed, not knowing his last name, etc., stand out as +Tikhon has pointed out.

            Moreover that business about +Jonah’s agenda during his trip to Moscow in 2011 can only be explained as a product from the fearful minds of those who have raising the alarm about how HB is a “threat to autocephaly”. (And where is this “threat” documented?) This is telling: the writer gets basic facts wrong about the OCA, but is privy to “secret” agenda of HB in Moscow? Whoever has been feeding “Alethia Bringer” (1) is in +Mark’s episcopal corner, and (2) spreads paranoid untruths about the Metropolitan.

            I’m just waiting for someone to claim that this dissent — dissent that pits the interests of an Auxiliary Bishop against his Ruling Bishop and Metropolitan — is solely +Jonah’s fault.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              Jesse–It is plenty slick for those who normally do not pay much attention to church matters. IMO the intent here is to plant the seed for questioning the deans’ decision to support only Father Gerasim. Also, not everybody shares your views on recent history. This hit piece is not designed for Dallas and environs; there are votes to be mined in other deaneries.

            • Jesse, if “Alethia Bringer” is not Bishop Mark, I think you’re right that it would be someone fairly close to him.

              At this point, I can think of worse things than the OCA going back under Russian control!

        • Well, whoever wrote this, he finally laid to rest the question of whether Bp Mark Maymon delivered the Fester e-mails to Mark Stokoe. “DOStruth” states unequivocally that he did.

          I guess that seals it.

          • Monk James says

            Not necessarily.

            I mean: Consider the great many gaffes and mistakes and outright lies in this strange essay.

          • Jesse Cone says

            My guess is that this “mistake” is what precipitated the site’s removal.

        • To clarify a point about the upcoming election in the Diocese of the South.

          There is no official ballot for the DOS election, despite the Diocesan Council of the DOS voting in February to put Bishop Mark on ‘the ballot.’ Blank sheets will be passed out, and one name written by each delegate on his ballot. In February, the election procedure was not clear, but now the whole question of who is on the ballot or not is moot. A delegate may write down anyone he wishes. The Deans and the Diocsesan Council have unanimously recommended Fr. Gerasim to the Diocsesan Assembly for very good reasons, but each delegate is free to put on his ballot whomever his better judgment indicates should be there. Of course, the Holy Synod has the final decision: to confirm the desire of the diocese or to appoint someone of their own choosing.

          • If Fr. Gersasim gets an overwhelming vote, it would not be uncommon nor inappropriate to then ask the Assembly to make his nomination unanimous.

            As Carl pointed out, and I totally agree, +Mark should do the right thing and publicly remove his name from consideration now so tha there is no unnecessary distraction in Miami.

          • Michael Bauman says

            An ‘open election’ process as you describe abericus is the perfect way to keep Bp Mark in the running and split votes for those who don’t want Bp Mark.

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          All of the public fighting over who will be the new bishop in Dallas is making us all look bad. In the Antiochian Archdiocese the name of every priest who meets the requirements, one of which is that he has served as a priest in the Antiochian Archdiocese for at least 5 years, is put on the ballot. Their biography is sent to every parish. At the convention of the Archdiocese we vote. The names of the top three candidates are sent to the local synod of bishops who make the final choice. The procedure is the same for the Metropolitan, except that the Holy Synod of Antioch makes the final choice. During the 32 years that I have been a priest the candidate who receives the most votes of the convention has always been elected. We have none of the public controversy that is going on in the Diocese of the South of the OCA. We should remember that we should trust in the Holy Spirit to lead us to make the right choice.

          Archpriest John W. Morris

          • StephenD says

            Since all of the Bishops in the Antiochian Archdiocese are now “auxillaries” maybe people just don’t care as much as people in the OCA do…
            I must say however that Bishop Joseph is handling a sex abuse scandal very admirably.. The OCA Bishops could learn a lot from him..

            • Michael Bauman says

              Well, apparently in the OCA the ‘ruling hierarch’ is looked upon as an auxilliary.

              Order, even order that is more than a little tinged with less than admirable intent vs. chaos.

              Which is more conducive to a Christian life.

              If you have a good bishop, it frankly makes no difference in the pews whether they are called auxilliaries or not.

              If the bishop is less than adequate, would you rather he were a fully empowered diocesan with little real synodal oversite or an auxillary?

              From what I know of the Antiochian bishops other than Met. Philip and Bp. Antoun, I like our group and frankly it bodes well for us when Met. Philip decides to repose.

              You all are welcome to come visit here in Wichita and worship at St. George Cathedral to see how much we care about things that matter.

          • Fr John, I think that the regime you describe for electing a bishop in the AOCNA is the most sensible one I’ve heard in a long time. Maybe the OCA should enact a statute that all candidates for bishop must be a resident pastor and/or monk within the diocese which is vacant. I’d add that no see should remain vacant for more than a year.

      • Heracleides says

        Amos – the DOStruth hit piece was posted by someone using the pseudonym Alethia Bringer (Alethia being of greek origin and meaning “truth”). Intending to do further research, I made note of the name (viewable at the bottom of the page in very small type) when initially reading the article. Now of course the blog has vanished, but there is one bit of information regarding the poster still available via Google cache: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:lLzg47aXShkJ:dostruth.blogspot.com/+maymon+dostruth&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Why in the world would Amos care who it is? After all, it’s a “real person. A “real person” fighting for the diocese s/he loves, the work of the late Archbishop Dmitri who gave his life for Christ in the Vineyard of the DOS and doing what s/he can to protect it.” Silly goose. Names don’t matter!

        • Thank Herc. I must say, I rather like the name “Alethia Bringer,” whoever she is.

    • Sorry Gail that is not the way it was and no amount of gymnastics on yours can change the fact that Fr. Festers personal email account were the property of the DOS. The apparent fact that either Fr Morretti or more likely +Mark redirected those emails to his personal Outlook account changes the basic premise the he secretly viOlated that personal account. No one is buying it down here and +Mark has been exposed for his underhanded actions confirmed by his sending them on to his cohort Mark Stokoe.

      It might be best if you stop trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear because the more you try and justify his actions the more you incriminate +Mark. His actions killed his chances in the DOS not anything said or done by his victim. If only he would have done what +Jonah asked and gone to a monastery we all might be singing a different tune.

      • Gail,

        Underlying all your comments in defense of +Mark is an assumption that the faithful of the Cathedral in Dallas and the deans, clergy and laity of the South were like blind sheep being led by the former Chancellor as if they had no brains to make up their own minds. The people of the DOS figured things out very quickly about +Mark and if anything His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri summed it up with his evaluation of +Mark.

        God-willing, the end of this sad chapter in the life of a great diocese will soon be over and everyone can look forward to a better future.

        • G. Sheppard says

          I am not defending Bishop Mark. I don’t have a “dog” (please forgive the implication) in this fight. I am challenging the facts as you have presented them, because you clearly DO have an agenda and I don’t know who you are. It’s that simple. Plus, I happen to be a fan of Metropolitan Jonah and when you say things like, “the people of the DOS figured things out very quickly about +Mark . . . ,” it suggests to me that in your opinion Metropolitan Jonah is a buffoon for taking Bishop Mark in, as it was apparent to EVERYONE, including the “sheep,” that he is lacking. Frankly, I trust Metropolitan Jonah. I think he knows what he is doing and if Bishop Mark is a problem, he’s HIS problem, not yours! I pray that the people who are in a position to decide are being led by God and not by you or anyone else who attempts to do so, ANONYMOUSLY. I don’t trust this cloak and dagger stuff and neither should anyone else.

          • Not sure how you jumped that big gap from the faithful in the DOS to +Jonah being a “buffoon” because I never said that or intimated it. But I will overlook that as you wanting to defend the Metropolitan. You say you don’t have a dog in this fight but you have been quite vocal here about it so I am confused as to your motives, but really don’t care.

            Seeing that you did not respond to what I said but rather read into what I wrote and then beat me with the anonymous stick, again, I can only assume that you have no reply and that you would agree with me that the people of the DOS can think for themselves and always have, this situation being no different.

            You use your name, G. Sheppard, but I will hazard a guess that most people don’t know who you are, never met you, never will. So the fact that you use your name and I use Amos should not diminsh the fact that we are both real people. Right? As for the “I don’t trust this cloak and dagger stuff and neither should anyone else” assertion, you have a right to your opinion, but why don’t you let others decide on their own and not assert from them.

            As for an agenda, mine is quite clear, fighting for the diocese I love, the work of the late Archbishop Dmitri who gave his life for Christ in the Vineyard of the DOS and doing what I can to protect it from +Mark Maymon who I do not believe, by his action since coming to the OCA qualify him to be a bishop in the South. That’s the agenda, and if you don’t like it, you are free to disagree.

            Enjoy your day.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              “G” stands for Gail. So now I’m more than just another “real person,” Amos. I am a real person with a first and last name.

    • abercius says

      Mr. Shepherd, you wrote: “The computer was set up such that the email from his gmail account automatically downloaded into the Outlook Express setup on that computer. By virtue of that setup, the emails became the property of those in charge of that computer.”

      Does the coming of regular US mail to one’s old address after one has moved make it the property of the new resident when it is addressed to the old resident? I think not. Fr. Joseph did due diligence to clean his computer and iPhone before he left Dallas and the chancellorship. I have spoken to someone who is regularly present in the chancery office who watched him do it. It appears that, unknown to Fr. Joseph and despite his efforts to clean up, the iPhone sim card retained the data needed to access his gmail account. The real question is why those who had possession of that iPhone and computer, as soon as they realized they had access to Fr. Joseph’s account when they synched up the iPhone with the computer, did not do the former possessor (Fr. Joseph) the courtesy of letting him know that they for some reason had unauthorized access. This was well before there was any falling out between Fr. Joseph and the new occupants of his office.

      So, Mr. Shepherd, I ask you: if regular mail addressed to an old address does not become the property of the new resident, why should such email become the property of the diocese? Would you open the personal mail that comes to your new address for the former resident? Is it yours?

      When asked at a meeting of the DOS deans why he had not informed Fr. Joseph of the breach of security to Fr. Joseph’s gmail account, Bishop Mark is reported to have answered: “It never occurred to me.” I leave you to evaluate the moral sensitivity and discernment reflected in that remark.

      • M. Stankovich says

        Not that I care about the discussion, but have you heard of Gmail Offline? If I did not want my employer (or anyone, short of a subpoena) to access a record of my emails, I would configure Gmail Offline to delete the copy ordinarily kept on the server after first downloading to a folder on my computer. I would then encrypt the folder if I truly didn’t anyone to have access. Pretty simple. How do I know this? Pedophiles told me.

      • While a lawyer can speak to the legality or illegality of looking at and sharing Fr. Fester’s emails, it seems pretty clear cut that Bp. Mark, after realizing he had access to Fr. Fester’s personal gmail account, should have decided not to read or share the emails. That he not only read, but sent them to Mr. Stokoe, reveals extremely poor judgement at the very least, and most likely it reveals an agenda unbecoming a clergyman.

        • Anne,

          It’s called retribution, revenge and in the end +Mark is the loser not Fr. Fester. +Mark rolled the dice and they came up snake-eyes for him. He was welcomed with open arms into the OCA and DOS and I think you summarized it perfectly it “most likely revealed an agenda unbecoming a clergyman.”

          It is time for the DOS to move on and for +Mark to move out.

  12. Michael Bauman says

    Jesse, I agree with you. I too am tired of the monastic narricism that postulates that anybody who is not a monastic isn’t Orthodox. I can see Bp Antoun being rather iritated by that line of reasoning too. The elevation of monasticism over marriage is particularly irksome and needs to be stopped.

    According to Genesis we are called first to marriage, not the solitary life (It is not good for man to be alone). While I appreciate and support healthy monasticism it should not be at the expense of a healthy lay life but a support of it.

    • Monk James says

      Michael Bauman says (July 1, 2012 at 8:40 am):

      ‘Jesse, I agree with you. I too am tired of the monastic narricism that postulates that anybody who is not a monastic isn’t Orthodox. I can see Bp Antoun being rather iritated by that line of reasoning too. The elevation of monasticism over marriage is particularly irksome and needs to be stopped.

      ‘According to Genesis we are called first to marriage, not the solitary life (It is not good for man to be alone). While I appreciate and support healthy monasticism it should not be at the expense of a healthy lay life but a support of it.’


      The charge of narcissism implies that Michael Bauman thinks that we monastics ourselves ‘postulate(s) that anybody who is not a monastic isn’t Orthodox.’ But this is patently untrue, just as untrue as his suggestion that someone thinks that ‘(t)he elevation of monasticism over marriage is particularly irksome and needs to be stopped.’

      I’ve been a monk for 35 years, and I’ve never, ever heard a monk or nun even suggest such things. I doubt that MB or even Bp Antoun have heard such things except in their own imagination or from unqualified and ignorant sources.

      All the clergy, all the laity, and all the monastics — all, and all together — both indivually and as groups, are members of the Body of Christ. No one individual or group is better or ‘more orthodox’ than any other.

      And no one, as far as I can tell, has ever suggested the opposite of his dictum that ‘healthy monasticism (it) should not be at the expense of a healthy lay life but a support of it.’

      Or has anyone actually suggested that ‘healthy monasticism’ actually IS ‘at the expense of a healthy lay life’? If so, that ‘anyone’ clearly knows nothing about monastic practice.

      Perhaps Mr Bauman would withdraw these bizarre statements.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Monk James, I have read repeated statements from supposedly canonical monks to that effect marriage was the choice of the weak–doing riff on the ‘angelic life’. It has always felt like a slap in the face as well as an affront to Incarnational theology. I forgot to add that I do not believe it is a healthy form or understanding of the monastic life, but it is an idea that gets repeated alot. But, you are right, I’ve never heard it from the monastics I’ve actually met (a small sample size but growing, 8-10 I think over the years). So please forgive me and thank you for the correction.

        Believe me I was not intending to put down monastcism and I am not with Bp Antoun on this at all. Monasticism is a necssary and wonderful part of the Church. However, the idea that I stated does exist and is propogated within the Church as if it was coming from monks themselves. Maybe a better way of stating it would be: the gnostic idealizaton of monasticsm that puts it far above the married state.

        I would also like to emphasize that it is, IMO, the non-monastic lay people who suffer most from the bizarre idea and feel inferior to the monastic ideal. It is easy to do that with a practice that is more talked about than acutally encountered. Unfortunately, the nearest monastary to me is over a day’s drive away. I was evidently quite muddled in what I wrote.

        • M. Stankovich says

          ​The Church, which establishes herself in the world, is always exposed to the temptation of an excessive adjustment to the environment… the major danger of Christian history [is] the danger of double standards. This danger has been precipitated by the rise of Monasticism. Monasticism was not meant originally to be just a way for the few. It was conceived rather as a consequent application of common and general Christian vows. It served as a powerful challenge and reminder in the midst of all historical compromises. Yet a worse compromise has been invented, when Monasticism had been reinterpreted as an exceptional way. Not only was the Christian Society sorely rent asunder and split into the groups of “religious” and “secular,” but the Christian ideal itself was split in twain and, as it were, “polarized,” by a subtle distinction between “essential” and “secondary,” between “binding” and “optional,” between “precept” and “advice.” In fact, all Christian “precepts” are but calls and advices, to be embraced in free obedience, and all “advices” are binding. The spirit of compromise creeps into Christian action when the “second best” is formally permitted and even encouraged. This “compromise” may be practically unavoidable, but it should be frankly acknowledged as a compromise. A multiplicity of the manners of Christian living, of course, should be admitted. What should not be admitted is their grading in the scale of “perfection.” Indeed, “perfection” is not an advice, but a precept, which can never be dispensed with. One of the greatest merits of Byzantium was that it could never admit in principle the duality of standards in Christian life.

          Fr. Georges Florovsky, “Antinomies of Christian History: Empire and Desert, ” in Christianity and Culture. Norland Publishing Company (June 1974).

          • Monk James says

            When asked by one of the novices of my monastery to say a few words about perfection, Abp John Garklavs inspiringly replied: ‘We should demand perfection only of ourselves, but we should rejoice when we see it in others.’

        • Monk James says

          Michael Bauman says (July 1, 2012 at 3:45 pm):

          ‘Monk James, I have read repeated statements from supposedly canonical monks to that effect marriage was the choice of the weak–doing riff on the ‘angelic life’. It has always felt like a slap in the face as well as an affront to Incarnational theology. I forgot to add that I do not believe it is a healthy form or understanding of the monastic life, but it is an idea that gets repeated alot. But, you are right, I’ve never heard it from the monastics I’ve actually met (a small sample size but growing, 8-10 I think over the years). So please forgive me and thank you for the correction.

          ‘Believe me I was not intending to put down monastcism and I am not with Bp Antoun on this at all. Monasticism is a necssary and wonderful part of the Church. However, the idea that I stated does exist and is propogated within the Church as if it was coming from monks themselves. Maybe a better way of stating it would be: the gnostic idealizaton of monasticsm that puts it far above the married state.

          ‘I would also like to emphasize that it is, IMO, the non-monastic lay people who suffer most from the bizarre idea and feel inferior to the monastic ideal. It is easy to do that with a practice that is more talked about than acutally encountered. Unfortunately, the nearest monastary to me is over a day’s drive away. I was evidently quite muddled in what I wrote.’


          Dear Friends —

          Please forgive my quoting Michael Bauman’s post in its entirety — I have no idea of where in the thread my response might appear, and I wanted to keep the conversation on track and accessible.

          First, although I don’t deserve it, I accept MB’s apology and I forgive him with all my heart for what he understands as his mistakes. I hope he forgives me as well for my firm resistance to his earlier comments.

          Referencing some very ancient thoughts now, I’d like to point out that the monastic way is called ‘the angelic life’ only because our Lord Jesus Christ — making it clear that there is no married life in eternity — told the Pharisees that the saints are like angels, neither married nor given in marriage.

          We monastics do the same here on Earth, and that’s all there is to the metaphor. Of course, since angels have no physical form and are neither male nor female, the symbolism breaks down rather quickly. Still, let’s just accept it as our Lord gave it.

          Mr Bauman is also quite right when he refers to the gnostic/dualistic origins of ‘spirit is good, flesh is evil’ heresy.

          It was so important for our ancestors in the faith to overcome such gnostic heresies that (once the roman persecutions ended) the bishops met in ecumenical synods and declared that people who think that it’s wrong to eat meat or to marry will find themselves outside of The Church.

          We are of the Earth, earthy, and that’s the way God made us.

          We don’t HAVE TO enjoy all the good things of our earthly existence, especially in excess, but it’s good for us to be temperate and still enjoy them.

          At the same time, especially as instructed by St Paul, we are in no position to criticize or even comment on other people as they strive to ‘work out (their) salvation in fear and trembling’.

          We’re all in this together, and we must be kinder to each other.

    • Jesse Cone says


      Just to be clear, I’m not valuing the married life over the monastic. I believe some are called to one sacramental life, some to another. Additionally, the monastic life and the solitary life are two different things.

      I’m calling for a symbiotic relationship between monastics and marrieds, between the monastery and parish.

      And I’m calling for us to remember that status as married or monastic does not give one a privileged role in the Kingdom; just your role. We all still need theosis.

  13. Archpriest John W. Morris says

    I should have clarified my comments on some monks by mentioning that I have not heard of any problems caused by monks in the OCA or ROCOR. However, some canonical monastics in another jurisdiction are causing many problems. There are canonical monks and nuns who teach that monasticism is a higher calling than marriage. Monasticism is a calling, but not all of us are called to be monks. I strongly believe that a married priest who sacrifices the welfare of his family to serve the Church is making a much greater sacrifice than someone living in the security of a monastery. Some parishes treat the priest like a hired hand and abuse him and his family. That is a painful reality. Thank God I am now in a good parish made up of good people who care about my welfare, but I have been in parishes that abuse their priest and his family. I was in one parish that refused to spend the money to fix a problem caused by polluted water leaking into the water supply of the rectory. My son wound up in the hospital. After I was elevated to the Archpriesthood one of my friends found my daughter crying because a mean spirited old woman went up to her and said, “your daddy does not deserve to be an Archpriest” all because I told the women that they should not spend a month cooking during the Divine Liturgy before the annual dinner when they could cook during the week.
    There is a problem with some canonical monastics. Again, I have not heard of problems with monastics in the OCA. A nun in a canonical jurisdiction told one of the women in a parish in the diocese in which I serve that she should put a sheet between herself and her husband when they have sex. I was at a meeting of the ladies organization in another parish when one of the women told the other women that the priest at a canonical monastery asked questions about her intimate sexual relations with her husband. The whole argument about the reception of converts has caused a lot of problems. So, I am not hallucinating. It has long been an accepted practice of the Church to receive converts who were baptized through Chrismation. That is historical fact. Those who tell people that they are not fully Orthodox if they were received through Chrismation are wrong. The whole practice of corrective baptism is heretical because it questions the grace received through Chrismation.

    Archpriest John W. Morris

    • Monk James says

      I fully sympathize with Fr John Morris in his experience of brittle, hypercritical, cruel laity. We describe such people in Greek as papadophagoi and in Russian as popoedy (‘priest eaters’). may the Lord be merciful to them and to us all.

      I appreciate FrJM’s clarifications, but I still want it to be known that it’s not just monks and nuns who say crazy things to people.

      Parish clergy are equally to blame, and I don’t know why.

      Some of these men are graduates of respectable seminaries, but even so, they’re still expressing some very distorted theology, ecclesiology, and morality.

      I have no way of explaining that, but I think it would be a good thing if monastics weren’t painted with such a broad brush. We’re not stamped out by a cookie cutter like gingerbread men.

      Perhaps we should ask — even demand — that our bishops (episkopoi) do a better job of being bishops (episkepsis — ‘supervision’) than they have up to now.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      I’ve noticed another problem with a few monks and nuns of different canonical jurisdictions who nevertheless share the same spiritual fathers. They believe in and practice what I would call “Zen Orthodoxy” — the notion that a pious, prayerful person ought not think rationally about issues or deliberate about decisions as a worldly person would, but ought instead to just pray and decide “noetically” what to do, trusting the Spirit to guide them. My daughter was advised by one of these nuns not to think about what to do before doing it, yet this nun is a member of a community that I know has acted very irresponsibly in one serious matter. I also know a certain monk who likes to preach against rational thinking, but who has several times caused havoc for himself and others by making snap decisions on minimal information and against the advice of others.

      • Monk James says

        All of Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell’s experience notwithsanding, it’s still a stretch to even suggest that such ideas are characteristic of monastic practice. They are not, since the faculties of the mind and heart are developed in monastic life, not suppressed. Whether rationality or irrationality is an issue would seem to lie mostly outside of authentic monastic experience, which is very conscious and conscientious.

        In fact, there’s just as much nonsense being preached by other people, yet we don’t characterize all professors or all psychologists or all clergymen by the bizarreties of a few.

        I don’t know where the ‘mystique’ of monastic life originates, but it ought to stop. Perhaps it’s the result of some sort of romantic notions or the portrayal of monks and nuns in the movies. Whatever it is, I suspect that it’s somehow an aspect of real ignorance, both on the part of clergy and laity who have seriously distorted ideas about monastic life, and on the part of some very few monastics who teach principles of the spiritual life as if they knew something.

        As an aside, I’d like to point out that there is not one set of rules for the monastics and another for the laity and yet another for the clergy, at least as far as working out our salvation is concerned.

        Monks and nuns keep the same patterns of fast days and feast days as all the nother orthodox, except that in cenobitic life Monday is also a fast day in many communities since (as our Lord observed) ‘Even the Pharisees fast twice a week.’

        In monastic training, we monks and nuns are taught how to pray both in private and in public, yet that training, including the bows and prostrations we make during the services, is not ‘just for monks’ — even the laity are expected to make a prostration at the Epiklesis of the Divine Liturgy, and before partaking of Holy Communion, etc., etc.

        NOTHING is ‘just for monks’. We merely do what we do while at prayer as a matter of obedience and love. If the laity are poorly instructed in these areas, someone other than the monastics is to blame.

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          I am certainly not faulting monasticism in general, only the “few” monastics I mentioned. Most other monks I’ve known were more reasonable.

          As for the monastic “mystique,” we’re all looking a holy man, a spiritual father who knows us, loves us, and can show us the way; we just all need to be reminded from time to time that the only man who really fits the bill is Christ Himself. That being the case, it seems only fitting that those most likely to be mistaken for Christ — clergy and monastics — have the greater responsibility for encouraging people to keep looking and not think they’ve found their savior in a mere man or mere woman.

        • Brian McDonald says

          I’m reading these posts on monasticism, having recently returned from what may have been the best five days of my life at Holy Dormition monastery in Rives Junction, Michigan. Adults and youth from our Church went there to do work on the monastery grounds. A few days at this particular monastery would put to rest any doubts about the value of monasticism for the church at large. The only negative experience I have to report after this short period of working and praying with the nuns and their aged and saintly Archimandrite Fr. Roman Braga, is the fear that back in my normal life, I will forget what I (and others) experienced so intensely there. For at least a few days I caught a glimpse of how a certain rhythm of worship and work and the absence of soul-dulling distractions can lead to an increased awareness of the presence of God that produces the kind of self -knowledge leading to that broken and contrite heart and a renewed and right spirit for which Psalm 50 prays. And I can testify that other adults and several of the kids felt the same way.

          Father Braga, and a majority of the nuns are Romanian, but from the first they’ve dedicated themselves to doing services in English and practicing hospitality to the ever-increasing number of visitors who come. To be at that place is to walk in an atmosphere of gracious beauty expressed through the loveliness of the nuns’ singing, the architecture and iconography, the natural world that they’ve done so much to take care of and enhance. (Among my favorite of these “enhancements” was the children’s garden with a replica of a church, Noah’s ark, and lots of painted rocks with scripture verses on them!) Father Braga spent two terms in prison in Romania for his faith and the other nuns have experienced something of the turmoil of this formerly Communist country. But this background seems to have produced a kind of sweetness and love that is palpable and inviting and makes one long to draw closer to the kind of God who produces such fruit in those who follow him humbly and faithfully.

          The joy of replacing the chains of classroom and computer with the alternating rhythm of outdoor work and indoor worship made me feel as though I’d had a refreshing spiritual bath with some of the accumulated dirt of my own passions and inattention being washed off. It felt like I was viewing a model of a sane, “normal” life, life as it ought to be. I know monasteries vary and this is a particularly hospitable one—but all the more reason for considering a visit.

          If anyone is interested in a visit to Holy Dormition, here’s their website: http://www.dormitionmonastery.org/

          • M. Stankovich says

            Thank you, Mr. McDonald, for the wonderful report, and it did not go unnoticed. I visited there really back in the day with my parish priest. I was probably 14 or 15 years old. My parish priest was talking with someone as an older man was driving a tractor a bit of a distance from us. My priest asked me to run to the man on the tractor and ask where we would find Archbishop Valerian, and the man pointed me to a large home on the property. When we arrived at the home, we were greeted most hospitably by Fr. Roman, who took us into a reception area, served us iced tea, and told us that he had recently arrived in the US from Romania (though not the circumstances of his suffering and imprisonment for the faith, which I found out later). Finally, he said, “Let me go find the Archbishop,” and returned with the man from the tractor, now in a cassock and riason. After the shock, we all laughed and enjoyed an hour together. Before we left, we were driven to the far end of the property to a small, weather-beaten 4 or 5 roomed house that served as a monastery and chapel for Hieromonks (now Archbishop) Nathaniel and (now retired Bishop) Mark, who were equally hospitable. Regardless of unfortunate moments in history, what a treasure for Orthodoxy in America, and thanks to God it thrives!

            By your reference, I was able to purchase two handmade gifts and help support the nuns!

      • Carl Kraeff says

        I have seen this also amongst the white clergy and the laity. Thank God it is not widespread.

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        . The Orthodox criticism of rationalism applies to theology not every day life. We have to use reason when dealing with the things of this world.

        Fr. John W. Morris

        • Monk James says

          As far as I can tell, ‘rationalism’ hasn’t ever yet been put forth as a theological ‘method’ (in scholarly endeavors).

          Still, all theological methods must be rational, or else they’d be absurd.

          Yet there really ARE some absurd theological methods. I think that Feminism and Queer Theory are among them, although they were accepted as legitimate in the theological faculty where I worked on my doctoral program.

          My own chosen method (every doctoral candidate must choose one), was the authentically orthodox catholic christian Tradition. I was met with disbelief and hostility, criticism and ridicule, but remained firm in The Faith.

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            No offense intended, but the whole Western theological tradition is dominated by rationalism. The whole Scholastic Movement was an effort to reconcile theology with Aristotle. Have you ever tried to read the writings of any 19th century German theologian? Not only are they dull and boring, they are also based almost exclusively on human reason. Bultmann and others destroyed Western Christianity by their efforts to reduce the Bible to only what can be understood and proven according to the principles of the so called Enlightenment.

            F.r John W, Morris

    • Diogenes says

      Monks belong in a monastery for a reason. The canons are clear, “All monastics are to be attached to a monastery.” Not just figuratively, but physically attached and responsible to their Abbot. All these phony monks “at- large” aren’t real monastics and shouldn’t be taken seriously. Most so-called monastics “at-large” are prima donnas and wanabees who should be dismissed. Wackos parading around in cassocks with long hair and long beards pontificating on what is Orthodox and what isn’t – phonies and wolves in sheep clothing.

      • Would Diogenes care to enlighten us sitting in the darkness as the Holy Canon which he quotes as “All monastics are to be attached to a monastery?” Just a simple citation, please: Canon (X) of the Council of (X).

  14. Fr. Philip Vreeland says

    The lively interchanges in this thread sometimes cause slight confusion based solely on semantics. For instance, I have long thought Bishop Tikhon (who is adriot in employing and enjoying irony as a rhetorical device) was writing about the Jacobite Church of Syria or the Maronite Catholic Church (which are identified with the adjective “Antiochene”) rather than the North American Archdiocese of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch (which is identified with the adjective “Antiochian”). However, lately His Grace has slipped between the two adjectives in writing about Bishop Antoun, a bishop of the North American Archdiocese of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, not a bishop of the Antiochene Syrian Orthodox Church (Jacobite). So which is it–Antiochian or Antiochene? Interchangeable? Just asking.

    • Interchangeable, like “Michigander” and “Michiganian.” Or like “Lebanon”or “The Lebanon”. Or like “Argentina” and “The Argentine.” Or like “Alexandrine” or “Alexandrian.” Or like ROCOR and ROCA.
      All three (or four?) ‘Patriarchs of Antioch” are Antiochene/Antiochian,as you please. It is other qualifiers that distinguish those communities from each other, such as “Jacobite”, “Maronte”, “Melkite,” “Greek Orthodox”, etc.
      The Greek Orthodox and the Hellenic Orthodox are the same. In short, Father, there is no semantic difference between Antiochene and Antiochian.

      • Mike Myers says

        Your Grace, a question for you: I’ve been trying to locate a ROCA parish church in S. California, but no luck. I like to experience churches and congregations within as many Orthodox jurisdictions as I can, and I have yet to be able to array my antennae in this one. You write that ROCA and ROCOR are interchangeable, but my understanding has been that ROCA remains fastidiously aloof from the MP, unlike ROCOR, where it’s all rapprochement these days, albeit no “merger” as such. Or so I’ve heard . . . But is that not the case? Is ROCA now in communion with the MP, or are all their churches and parishes and property by now all swallowed up by ROCOR — which I take it would be the same thing, in effect. Or what? I’m confused here. Hope you can help.

        • The offically registered corporate name of the Church of Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) is The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, Inc. (ROCOR). However very very many members of that Church NEVER call it that, but call it the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA). For example, I believe both Father Alexander Lebedeff and Bishop Jerome (Shaw) routinely and colloquially use ROCA.
          Likewise, in Russian, some prefer to use the adjective “zagranichnyj” and others “zarubezhnyj.”
          After Metropolitan Vitaly (Ustinov) retired and then tried to take it back, he and those with him claimed that they were the REAL ROCOR or the REAL ROCA. After the election of Metropolitan Laurus, the disciples of Vitaly began to style themselves as either ROCOR-V, or ROCA and call the authentic, canonical Church “ROCOR-L . This was complicated by schisms that took place here and in Russia by partisans of ‘irreconcilability”, a strange, anti-Gospel concept. There are several denominations of schismatics here and elsewhere that “distinguish” themselves by which set of initials they prefer and sometimes by the initial(s) that follow the sets.
          As far as I know there, all parishes but one calling themselves Russian, are either in the OCA or in ROCOR/ROCA-the real McCoy. I believe that Archbishop Gregory of Buena Vista/Denver, a notorious schismatic once allied with the ROCA of the deposed MetropolitanValentine of Suzdal (a second ROCA-V) , started up a mission in Southern California. I saw a poster for it, and it was in execrable Russian. Educated German’s used to refer to Hitler’s German as “Saudeutsch” “Sow-German,” I wouldn’t know what to call the ‘Russian on that “ROCA” poster!
          ROCOR has churches south of Los Angeles: St. Barbara Mission somewhere in Orange County,and Our Lady of Kazan in San Diego.
          As has always been the custom in the Russian emigration, the only way to be sure about a Russian parish is to ask who is commemorated in the services.

      • Formally, the Greeks do not call or consider themselves as Greeks, but Hellenes.

        • Also, their name for Greece is not Greece, but Hellas.

          • in Persian, they’re called Ionian (yunan).
            PdnNJ. You surely know that the Greek Orthodox people call themselves Greek Orthodox and NOT Hellenic Orthodox, and almost all Greek Orthodox Churches in America do NOT call themselves Hellenic Orthodox. in my Modern Greek class at Wayne St. University, Professor Maskelaris (sp?) referred to the language in English as “Greek.” Their Church in America, like all the aforesaid parishes is *****formally*** (your word of choice) incorporated as Greek: as in The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.if a Greek is speaking Greek, he may use either the Greek word for Hellenic to describe himself. or Romaic, and he might say his language is also Romaic. Greeks in America almost invariably speak of Greece and Greek(s). Formally.
            I quietly and tenderly feel you shouldn’t have made such an ill-informed declaration which, by the way, is relevant to ****nothing**** in this blog.
            Since I took up Modern Persian, I can’t count the people who have “informed”me that the language is more accurately called “Farsi.’ This is like telling a student of German that the language should not be called German, but “Deutsch.” Right. Do you speak Deutsch? Do you speak Nihon-go? Do you speak Majyar? Do you speak Svenska? Should I list my languages on Facebook as “Farsi, Deutsch, Russkiy, Nihon-go and a little Elleniko? No Greek ever pronounces an “h” at the beginning of the name of their country: they say “Ellas”, no ‘Hellas”.

            • Not being Greek, Your Grace, I couldn’t expect you to know the difference between “Hellene” and “Greek,” “Hellas” and “Greece.” Yes, the Greeks use Greek and Greece when speaking english, but only then.
              I lived and worked in southern Sweden (in a factory!) for 4 months in 1980 and did learn some basic conversational Svenska then, but remember almost nothing of it now.
              But as you say, this is all not relevant to this blog.

              • Oh, PdnNJ, thanks for the Swedish input! My first two years of college were at St. Olaf (Norwegian Lutheran) College, Northfield, Minnesota, but a close friend of mine then was a Swedish girl (poor thing- at a Norwegian college, of all things!) studying music there, Tora (Victoria) Cederberg. All I picked up from her was “kann du toller svenska?” Sounds SO funny to Americans, almost as funny as “Kann du snakka Norsk!” You reminded me of a popular saying: “Ten thousand Swedes ran through the weeds, chased by one Norwegian!”

                Funny as a katsap and a khokhol arguing.

                • Your Grace, sounds like you are “tooting your own horn,” again.
                  Fr. Ambrose’ post of September 8, 2012 at 12:47 pm in the “Scandal in Chicago: the Initial Story is No Longer “Operative” thread, seems to indicate that some here may not appreciate that.

            • Isa Almisry says

              Taking up Modern Persian, your grace? I like your taste. Arabic is better, but Persian is quite good!

              Btw, in Greek, “Greek” i.e. “Hellen” meant pagan until relatively recent times, when paganism became the fashion.

              • Well, thanks, Isa,
                Arabic, a Semitic language, is a near relative of Hebrew; while Persian is an Indo-European language, as I’m sure you know being obviously very well educated. The most beautiful calligraphy, however, before Ataturk’s reforms, was done by the Turks
                Do you perhaps belong to the Antiochian or Jerusalem Patriarchate?
                You’re quite right about “Hellene and Hellenes and “Hellenic wisdom” in particular. I don’t understand how PdnNJ thinks Greeks understand the ***English**** words “Greek” and “Hellene” better than I do, do you? I say it’s just the opposite.

                • Antiochian “Self Ruled”, your grace. Although I was in the OCA for some time.

                  Yes, people are always shocked when I demonstrate that Persian is related to English.

  15. Ilya Zhitomirskiy says

    I hope that this monkey business ends and that the OCA can elect a good Metropolitan to lead us out of the muck. If the OCA continues on its slippery path, I’ll pack my bags and go to ROCOR or the GOA (more likely ROCOR), and I might consider doing theological studies in Jordanville or the Chicago Pastoral School rather than SVS or STS.

  16. M. Stankovich says

    I would like to note that Anna Holod Zinzel, longtime personal secretary to Fr. Alexander Schmemann, fell asleep in the Lord on Friday evening, September 7, 2012. While the official story of Ann Zinzel rightfully acknowledges her years of dedication and service to Fr. Alexander and SVS, it really says nothing of the fact that she walked among extraordinary men in an extraordinary time in the life of the Orthodox Church in America. She demanded respect, and she most certainly received it.

    But Ann Zinzel was, first and foremost, a “mother,” though she had no children of her own. Particularly for many of us who constituted the last of the undergrad pre-theology college students, perhaps thousands of miles from home, she was an “instrument” of surrogate motherhood. I make a confession (and I know I am not alone) that on a late evening of particular tiredness, I would make myself scarce rather than again borrow a car to drive Ann home to Scarsdale. The fact is, she would rarely if ever directly ask, only give the mother’s “look,” and I couldn’t refuse. But the reward came on a day when, feeling a little down, a little overwhelmed, a little sad, God would direct a whisper into your ear: “You have beautiful manners; I love to watch you eat,” or in the dim chapel, “Misha, I love to watch you pray.” Only your mother could provoke that involuntary smile.

    Rest among the righteous. Memory Eternal!