On Saturday, June 27, 2009, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah and the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America consecrated Archimandrite Melchisedek [Pleska] Bishop of Pittsburgh and the Diocese of Western Pennsylvania at Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Allison Park, PA.
The Consecration was preceded on Friday evening, June 26, with the Rite of Nomination and Proclamation, also held at the cathedral.
His Grace, Bishop Melchisedek was born Thomas Alexander Pleska in Dayton OH, on August 20, 1942. His father, Alexander Peter Pleska, was born near Brest-Litovsk, Belarus, and immigrated with his parents to the US in 1925. His mother Johanna [Eugenia Stachuk] Pleska was born in Cleveland, OH, of Ukrainian immigrant parents, and baptized in Saint Theodosius Cathedral.
At the time of his birth and childhood, there there was no Orthodox parish in Dayton. He and his sister received their Christian formation in local Protestant parishes, but were taken to the “Russian” Church in Cleveland for important holy days and other visits. It was as an adult that Father Melchisedek describes himself as becoming a member in the Orthodox Church at Christ the Saviour Church, Cincinnati, OH, under the pastorship of Father Daniel Rentel.
After graduating from high school, he first attended the University of Michigan School of Music and then Miami University, Oxford, OH, where he completed a BA with a major in philosophy. At the time, he had aspirations to pursue doctoral studies and enter the teaching field. Instead, he he entered the business world, first at a stock brokerage and later in real estate.
In the early 1980s, he enrolled at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, from which he received the Master of Divinity degree. Under the deanship of Protopresbyter John Meyendorff, he was encouraged to consider ordination. Through several encounters with monastic spiritual fathers, including Elder Dionysios of the Simono-Petras Monastery on Mount Athos and Archimandrite Dimitry [Egouroff], a monk of Old Valaam, he accepted the call to monasticism after ordination.
He was ordained to the diaconate on November 21, 1985, on the Great Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple, by His Grace, Bishop Job. On March 25, 1986, on the Great Feast of the Annunciation, he was ordained to the priesthood by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius.
In the fall of 1986, he accepted the position of Instructor of Dogmatic Theology at Saint Tikhon’s Seminary. In addition to teaching, he served as chaplain at Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery, Otego NY, and as interim pastor of Holy Trinity Church, Pottstown, PA; Saint Michael Church, Old Forge, PA; and Saint Basil Church, Simpson, PA. It was also at this time that he made acquaintance with the Elder Sophrony and his monastery in Essex, England.
From 1989 to 1998, he served as rector of Saints Peter and Paul Church, Meriden, CT.
In 1998, he traveled to Greece, where he served at the Monastery of the Holy Cross, an international women’s community in Thebes. In 2003, he was transferred to serve as chaplain at the women’s monastery of Saint George the Great Martyr and to serve his own brotherhood at the Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Petras.
In 2004, he was tonsured to the Great Schema, taking the name Melchisedek, and elevated to the rank of Archimandrite.
On April 2, 2009, Archimandrite Melchisedek was elected Bishop of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America.
He returned to the US during Great Lent 2009, where he celebrated Holy Week and Pascha in parishes of the Diocese of Western Pennsylvania, began to familiarize himself with the diocese’s parishes and institutions, and took on administrative duties in the diocese.