CHICAGO, IL [DOM] – The Diocese of Chicago and the Midwest observes the centennial of its canonical establishment this month. It was during this time one hundred years ago that Hieromonk Theophilus (Pashkovsky) was consecrated as the first bishop for city of Chicago, in accordance with the previously-expressed desire of Patriarch St. Tikhon (Belavin).
Father Theophilus, a widowed priest who had labored in the American Mission together with St Tikhon, had been elected to the episcopacy by the Holy Synod of the Church of Russia on April 27, 1922. After this, he returned to North America in July of the same year and received the monastic tonsure on November 25. The new hieromonk then became Bishop of Chicago in early December, with the Rite of Election taking place on December 3, 1922, and his episcopal consecration on December 10, 1922, both at St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York. Bishop Theophilus was consecrated by Metropolitan Platon (Rozhdestvensky) of All America and Canada, Bishop Aftimios (Ofiesh) of Brooklyn, and Archbishop Panteleimon (Athanassiades) of Neapolis, a hierarch of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem who had recently arrived in America.
Bishop Theophilus thus began his archpastoral service in the Midwest, although the North American Metropolia was still structured as a single diocese. While his episcopal authority was that of an auxiliary bishop, he energetically undertook his hierarchal duties, tirelessly visiting Midwestern parishes and providing them with archpastoral oversight. His labors laid the groundwork for the eventual establishment of a territorial diocese in the Midwest. He oversaw the renovation of Chicago’s historic Holy Trinity Cathedral, and produced publications in both Russian and English. He also made archpastoral visitations to Canada during this period to help in providing episcopal supervision there.
In 1931, Bishop Theophilus was transferred to the See of San Francisco, ending his tenure in Chicago. After this, the diocese would be served by Bishop Alexis (Panteleev) and Bishop Paul (Gavrilov), each only serving as the Diocesan Hierarch for one year.
It wasn’t until 1933 that the diocese would receive a new long-term hierarch in the newly consecrated Bishop Leonty (Turkevich), who would remain in Chicago for 17 years. Bishop Leonty, who like Bishop Theophilus would later become Metropolitan, was very familiar with the communities from his service as a priest both in Chicago and Minneapolis. It is during Metropolitan Lenoty’s tenure that the ruling hierarch’s title began to include Minneapolis in addition to Chicago. In 1950, Metropolitan Leonty would be elected as the Metropolitan at the 8th All American Council in New York City, leaving Chicago and Minneapolis vacant once again.
Bishop Dionysius (Diachenko) would be elected to fill the vacant see until 1954. In 1954, Archbishop Dimitry (Magan) was assigned to serve as the Archbishop of Chicago and Minneapolis, although he never relocated to the Midwest.
On July 22, 1949, Bishop John (Garklavs) and his family arrived in the United States, in accordance with his acceptance into the North American Metropolia by Metropolitan Theophilus. At first, he conducted services in Church Slavonic as he began to study English. In October 1949, Bishop John (Garklavs) was appointed Bishop of Detroit and Cleveland.
In 1955, Bishop John was also appointed as the administrator of the Diocese of Chicago and Minneapolis. In 1957, he became the ruling bishop of the diocese, and was at that same time elevated to the dignity of archbishop. With the transfer of Archbishop John to Chicago, the parishes previously under the Bishop of Detroit and Cleveland were transferred to the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Chicago and Minneapolis.
During his tenure, Archbishop John served as the senior bishop in the Holy Synod of Bishops, and as the chairman of the Department of Music of the Metropolia and of its successor, the Orthodox Church in America. Archbishop John retired from active service in September 1978.
The 18th Assembly of the Diocese of Chicago and the Midwest, meeting in Madison, Illinois on October 1, 1978, unanimously nominated Archimandrite Boris (Geeza) to fill the newly vacant episcopal see. The Holy Synod of Bishops, meeting in New York on October 17-18, 1978, then canonically elected him to succeed Archbishop John.
On November 11, 1978, Archimandrite Boris was consecrated to the episcopacy by Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor) of All America and Canada, Archbishop John (Garklavs), Bishop Kyrill (Yonchev) of Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania, and the Bulgarian Diocese, Bishop Firmilian of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and Bishop Ireney, Vicar of the Moscow Patriarchate. The consecration took place at Chicago’s venerable Holy Trinity Cathedral. During his tenure, Bishop Boris organized diocesan departments, initiated publication of a diocesan newspaper, and promulgated uniform parish bylaws. He also oversaw the establishment of several new missions and parishes throughout the Midwest Diocese, the largest territorially in the Orthodox Church in America, visiting each parish at least once a year. It was during this period that the Chicago territory began to called the “Diocese of the Midwest.”
Bishop Boris retired from active ministry in November 1988, leaving a four year vacancy in the diocese. At its session on November 5, 1992, the Holy Synod of Bishops elected Bishop Job (Osacky) of Hartford and the Diocese of New England as the new Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest.
Bishop Job was enthroned in his native city on February 6, 1993, almost exactly ten years after his consecration to the episcopate. In his seventeen years in the See of Chicago, the Diocese of the Midwest experienced tremendous growth due to his focus on the establishment of new mission parishes, and the promotion of vocations in the diocese. Bishop Job was an accomplish iconographer, church musician with a particular interest in Carpathian Chant. His Grace would go on to arrange several services in Carpathian Chant and form a choir that he would direct at local parishes. The Bishop labored tirelessly traveling the vast diocese by car visiting parishes regularly, spending time with clergy and the community guiding them in prayer and pastoral care. His Grace also had a profound love for youth and youth ministry making annual visits to the various church camps along with annual visits to the seminaries to spend time with the diocesan seminarians. In recognition of his more than twenty years of faithful service as an archpastor, Bishop Job was elevated to the rank of archbishop in 2004. In 2009, Archbishop Job unexpectedly reposed in the Lord on the morning of Friday, December 18, from walking pneumonia while conducting pastoral visitations in the diocese. Archbishop Job was the first hierarch of the diocese to repose in office.
After a two-year vacancy, Archimandrite Matthias (Moriak) was consecrated as Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest in 2011, serving the faithful for two years until his retirement.
Archpriest Paul Gassios was appointed Administrator of the Diocese of Chicago and the Midwest by the Holy Synod in March 2014. On October 7, 2014, he was nominated by a special nominating assembly to fill the vacant see of Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest. On October 20 of the same year, he was received the monastic tonsure at St. Gregory Palamas Monastery in Hayesville, OH and was named for St. Paul the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople. On October 21, he was canonically elected by the Holy Synod, and was elevated to the rank of archimandrite on October 23, 2014. On December 27, 2014, he was consecrated to the episcopacy and enthroned at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Chicago. In May 2021, he was elevated to the rank of archbishop. Archbishop Paul would serve the diocese for over seven years until he was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of 2022, reposing in the Lord on the night of April 24, 2022, the radiant Pascha of the Lord.
On March 15, 2022, Metropolitan Tikhon and the Holy Synod appointed Bishop Daniel (Brum) of Santa Rosa as temporary administrator to assist the ailing Archbishop Paul with his work in the diocese, and after the Archbishop’s repose, as locum tenens of the widowed diocese. On July 18, 2022, after a unanimous nomination by acclamation from a special nominating assembly, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America unanimously elected Bishop Daniel as the bishop of the Diocese of Chicago and the Midwest. He was enthroned on October 1, 2022 at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Mother Church of our Diocese. He was elevated to the dignity of Archbishop by the Holy Synod on November 11, 2022, and currently serves as the twelfth hierarch of our God-protected diocese.