The Most Blessed Herman

Former Archbishop of Washington and New York, Metropolitan of All America and Canada

The Most Blessed Herman

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman was born Joseph Swaiko in Bairdford, in 1932.  After completing his elementary and secondary education in the West Deer Township PA schools, he enrolled in Robert Morris College, Pittsburgh, where he received certificate in secretarial science.  Subsequently, he served in the Adjutant General Corps of the US Army, being stationed in Labrador.

After being discharged from the military in 1959, he enrolled in Saint Tikhon Seminary, South Canaan, PA, from which he graduated in 1963.  He was appointed personal secretary to His Grace, Bishop Kiprian, who became Rector of the seminary in 1961.

Following his ordination to the Holy Diaconate in March 1964 and to the Holy Priesthood the following month, he served on the seminary administration and as Instructor of Church Slavonic.  He also served as rector of Saint John the Baptist Church, Dundaff, PA and Saints Peter and Paul Church, Uniondale, PA.  He was appointed to the seminary’s accreditation committee and was instrumental in forming the seminary’s Board of Trustees, of which he was a charter member and secretary-treasurer.  For many years, he also served as spiritual advisor to the Anthracite District of the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America.

On December 4, 1970, he was tonsured to monastic rank and given the name Herman, in honor of the newly canonized Saint Herman of Alaska.  On October 17, 1971, he was elevated to the rank of Igumen and named Deputy Abbot of Saint Tikhon Monastery.

On October 19, 1972, he was elected to the episcopate and elevated to the rank of Archimandrite three days later.  He was consecrated to the episcopacy at Holy Resurrection Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre, PA on February 10, 1973 with the title of Bishop of Wilkes-Barre, serving as an auxiliary of the Diocese of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania.

Bishop Herman continued to reside at Saint Tikhon Monastery and to teach at Saint Tikhon Seminary.  In addition to his ministry within the Diocese of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, he served as Temporary Administrator of the Diocese of the West in 1975 and Temporary Administrator of the Diocese of New England in 1978.  Following the death of Archbishop Kiprian, he was elected Bishop of Philadelphia on March 17, 1981 and rector of Saint Tikhon Seminary the following May.  In 1994, he was elevated to the rank of Archbishop by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America.

In addition to his service to the Diocese of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, Archbishop Herman has served the Orthodox Church in America in a wide variety of capacities.  He has served as chairman of the OCA Department of Finance, vice-chairman of the Department of Missions; member of the Board of Theological Education; vice-chairman of the Preconciliar Commission; episcopal moderator for the Department of Stewardship; chairman of the Pension Board; vice-chairman of the Office of Inter-Church Relations and Ecumenical Witness; and member of the Lesser Synod of Bishops.

Metropolitan Herman has represented the OCA at numerous events abroad, often traveling with Metropolitan Theodosius.  He also participated in the historic conference of North America’s Orthodox Bishops in Ligonier, PA in 1994.

Metropolitan Herman is well known as a proponent for the sanctity of life.  For many years, he has participated in the March for Life held in the US capital every January, leading the Orthodox participants and addressing thousands in defense of the unborn.

On September 29, 1999, he was named acting treasurer of the Orthodox Church in America, while he served as temporary administrator of the Orthodox Church in America from May until September 2001, during Metropolitan Theodosius’ medical leave of absence.  He also oversaw the process leading to the full accreditation of Saint Tikhon Seminary.

Metropolitan Herman has received numerous awards and honors, including an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Nashotah House Seminary in Wisconsin and an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree from his alma mater, Robert Morris College.  In 1994, he was awarded the Order of Saint Innocent Silver Class.

On September 4, 2008, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America granted Metropolitan Herman’s request to retire from the Metropolitan See with the title “Former Archbishop of Washington and New York, Metropolitan of All America and Canada.”