SYOSSET, NY [OCA]—At the opening session of the fall gathering of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America on Tuesday, November 16, 2010, Priestmonk Matthias [Moriak] was canonically elected to the vacant Episcopal See of Chicago and the Midwest.
Bishop-elect Matthias was born David Lawrence Moriak on April 4, 1949, in Cleveland, OH, the son of Lawrence and the late Gladys Mae Moriak. He was baptized at Cleveland’s Saint Theodosius Cathedral, where he and his family were members there. His John Moriak, immigrated to Cleveland in 1913 from the village of Horowa in Galicia, Austria. His father was raised as an Orthodox Christian, while his mother converted to Orthodox Christianity prior to marriage.
At the age of 12, he moved with his parents to Parma, OH, and began attending a newly formed mission of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese, where he began reading the Hours and the Epistle. He graduated from Parma High School in June 1967. While contemplating a calling to the Holy Priesthood, he had planned to join the Marine Corps after high school graduation, until he met His Grace, the late Bishop John [Martin] of the Carpatho-Russian Dicoese, who inspired him to begin studies at Christ the Saviour Seminary, Johnstown, PA in the fall of 1967. During the first few weeks of seminary studies, he realized a strong calling to the Holy Priesthood.
He graduated from Christ the Saviour Seminary in June 1972. He and his wife, Pani Jeannette, were married the same month. He was ordained to the Holy Priesthood at the hands of Bishop John on June 18, 1972.
Bishop-elect Matthias’ pastoral experience has been extensive. He planted a mission parish dedicated to Saint Paul the Apostle in Freehold, NY in 1975. In 1982, he was to the pastorate of Saint Michael the Archangel Orthodox Church, Saint Clair, PA, a well-established parish that traces its establishment to 1897. The challenges of an older, established parish stood in sharp contrast to those of a mission parish.
In 2004, he was assigned to Christ the Saviour Cathedral, Johnstown, PA, where he served as Associate Pastor and the Prefect of Christ the Saviour Seminary. Two years later, he was assigned to Saint Gregory of Nyssa Church in Seaford, NY, which grew spiritually and numerically during his pastorate.
He and his wife became the parents of two children. Their daughter, Rachel Sumner, and her husband of Charlestown, WV, are the parents of two children, Jude, age five, and Nadia, age one. Their son, Priest Matthew D. Moriak, pastor of Holy Ghost Church, Manville, NJ, and his wife, Pani Jodi, are the parents of one child, Jeannette, age two, and are expecting their second child in December 2010.
In May 1996, Pani Jeannette was diagnosed with acute leukemia. She fell asleep in the Lord 11 months later on March 26, 1997. Prior to his wife’s illness, Father Matthias had begun studies at Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, South Canaan, PA, which he discontinued during his wife’s illness. One year following the repose of his wife, Father resumed his studies and was awarded a Master of Divinity degree.
Bishop-elect Matthias had always admired the monastic life. Following the death of his wife, he visited several monasteries for healing and spiritual strength. He made many visits to Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Ellwood City, PA, and Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery, Otego, NY, where he also served the Great Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord for two years. He also visited the Monastery of Saint Anthony in Arizona, where he stayed for two weeks. Prior to his monastic tonsure, he visited the Iveron Monastery on Mount Athos for the entire month of May 2003. Much of his time on Mount Athos was spent following the daily cycle of services and obediences. Many hours were spent speaking to his newly found Anthonite spiritual father, Priestmonk Jeremiah. Following his time on Mount Athos, he was tonsured a riasophor monk on October 14, 2003.
During the last ten years, he has visited Holy Trinity Monastery and Hogar Rafael Ayau Orphanage in Guatemala, both on his own and as the leader of several mission teams. For the last two years, he has served as spiritual father to the nuns at the monastery and the children at the orphanage. With the blessing of His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas of the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese, he traveled to the orphanage every three months for a ten-day period to hear confessions, baptize children, and chrismate converts to Orthodox Christianity. Father has baptized at least 60 children and adults in Guatemala.
He also has traveled to Turkey, Israel and the Holy Land, Greece, and Alaska.
In addition to the aforementioned parishes, he served the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, Jenners, PA [1972-1975] and Saint Nicholas Church, Gary, IN [1978-1982]. He also has served as Regional Director of the Education Commission of the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese [1972-2004], President of the Northwest Indiana Orthodox Clergy Association [1981-1982], Chaplain of Manor Care Nursing Center, Pottsville, PA [1984- 1994], Prefect of Christ the Saviour Seminary, Johnstown, PA [2004-2006], and a member of the faculty of Christ the Saviour Seminary, where he taught liturgics [2004-2006]. He has been a guest preacher at five Sunday of Orthodoxy celebrations and has conducted numerous retreats during his nearly four decades of ordained ministry.
After canonical release from the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese, he was received into the Orthodox Church in America on September 1, 2010.