Clergy and faithful from parishes across the Midwest gathered at historic Holy Trinity Cathedral here on the morning of Saturday, December 27, 2014 for the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, during which Bishop-Elect Paul [Gassios] was consecrated to the Episcopacy as Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest.
Bishop-elect Paul, who had served as Administrator of the Diocese of the Midwest, was nominated by delegates at a special Diocesan Assembly held in Broadview, OH on October 7, 2014. On October 21, his name was presented to the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops, who elected him to fill the vacant Episcopal See of Chicago and the Midwest.
Concelebrating with His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, were His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate; His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West; His Eminence, Archbishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania; His Eminence, Archbishop Nicolae of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas; His Grace, Bishop Irénée of Ottawa and Canada; His Grace, Bishop Michael of New York and New Jersey; His Grace, Bishop Alexander of Toledo and the Bulgarian Diocese; and His Grace, Bishop David of Sitka and Alaska. Among those joining them were Archpriest John Zdinak, Diocesan Chancellor; Archpriest John Adamcio, Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral; Archpriest Andrei Papkov, who officially represented His Grace, Bishop Peter of Cleveland of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia; and the Midwest Diocesan Deans.
At the outset of the Liturgy, Bishop-Elect Paul was brought before Metropolitan Tikhon and the bishops, at which time he proclaimed the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed and offered a detailed explanation of the Church’s Trinitarian and Christological doctrines. He pledged his personal commitment to uphold the Church’s canons and the teachings of the Holy Fathers and to preserve unity with his brother bishops.
During the Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Tikhon placed the open Gospel Book over Bishop-Elect Paul’s head as all of the consecrating bishops place their hands upon it. The Metropolitan then proclaimed, “By the election and approbation of all the Venerable Bishops of the Holy Synod, the Grace Divine, which always heals that which is infirm and fulfills that which is lacking through the Laying-on-of-Hands, elevates you, most beloved of God, Archimandrite Paul, to be the Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest, which enjoys the protection of Almighty God…. O Lord our God Who, in that it is impossible for the nature of man to endure the Essence of the Godhead, in Thy Providence hast provided for us teachers of like nature with ourselves to maintain Thine Altar, that they may offer to Thee sacrifice and oblations for all Thy People. O Lord, make this man also, who has been proclaimed a steward of the Episcopal Grace, to be an imitator of Thee, Who art the True Shepherd, Who laid down Thy Life for Thy sheep. Grant that he will be a leader of the blind, a light to those in darkness, a reprover of the unwise, a teacher of the young, a lamp to the world. Grant also that he, having perfected the souls entrusted to him in this present life, may stand unashamed before Thy Throne, and that he may receive the great reward which Thou hast prepared for those who have fought with valor for the preaching of the Gospel.”
During the Divine Liturgy, Bishop Paul ordained Subdeacon Alexander Koranda to the diaconate. A Chicago native, Deacon Alexander is a recent graduate of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, South Canaan, PA.
At the conclusion of the Liturgy, Metropolitan Tikhon offered words of exhortation to Bishop Paul. [The complete text may be found below.] “Receive this pastoral staff, that you may lead the flock of Christ entrusted to your care,” Metropolitan Tikhon prayed as he presented Bishop Paul with his staff. “May the Lord Himself be your strength and support in your exercise of the archpastoral ministry in this God-Protected Diocese. We ask you now to ascend the Episcopal Cathedral and give your blessing to those who have taken part in this celebration and to all Christ’s flock throughout the Diocese of Chicago and the Midwest.”
A festive banquet honoring Bishop Paul followed the Liturgy at Chicago’s Ukrainian Cultural Center.
EXHORTATION OF METROPOLITAN TIKHON TO BISHOP PAUL
It is a great blessing for all of us to be gathered here, from near and far, for this joyous event, to have served with so many clergy from the Diocese of the Midwest, together with the faithful of the region, and to welcome the clergy and faithful of many of the dioceses of the Orthodox Church in America and other jurisdictions.
We are especially pleased to have His Eminence, Archbishop Nicholae of the Romanian Archdiocese, with us today.
Your Grace, Bishop Paul, newly ordained Bishop of the city of Chicago and the Diocese of the Midwest, you are now a brother among your brothers of the Holy Synod of Bishops, represented here today by:
- His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel, of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate
- His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin, of San Francisco and the Diocese of the West
- His Eminence, Archbishop Melchisedek, of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania
- His Grace, Bishop Irénée, of Ottawa and the Archdiocese of Canada
- His Grace, Bishop Michael, of New York and the Diocese of New York and New Jersey;
- His Grace, Bishop David of Sitka and Alaska
On their behalf, I offer my sincere thanks to His Grace, Bishop Alexander of Toledo and the Bulgarian Diocese, who has labored sacrificially and with great love for the clergy and people of the Diocese of the Midwest during his time as Locum Tenens. I am sure that I speak for all the clergy and the faithful in expressing the deep appreciation for his willingness to serve, to bring the diocese to a place of stability, to a place where today’s event, your ordination as the new father and Archpastor, was made possible.
On behalf of the all the clergy, monastics and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America, I wholeheartedly congratulate you on your consecration and enthronement as the ruling Bishop of the See of Chicago, and the Diocese of the Midwest.
Through the mystery of the All-Holy Spirit and the laying on of hands, our Lord has bestowed on Your Grace the apostolic grace to strengthen you in your Episcopal labors. Your election and consecration come at a time when the faithful of the Midwest are in great need of a good pastor and capable shepherd who knows his people, and is known by them.
My dear brother, I pray that Our Lord will grant you good health and plentitude of spiritual gifts so that you may in peace and love nourish the people of God, and be a witness to all those who are searching and seeking for the truth as offered by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
From my heart I wish you inexhaustible energy, peace and joy as you undertake this awesome ministry as a Bishop of Christ’s Church.
To the Clergy, especially the newly ordained Deacon Alexander, fittingly ordained on this feast of the Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen, we offer our congratulations and great thanks for the great number of you who have come here today to serve with us and to participate in this great event. I exhort you to prayerfully and with love offer your love, support and encouragement to your new Archpastor and to learn from him as he leads you and guides you in your pastoral ministries.
To the Faithful of the diocese, I also ask you to offer your prayers for Bishop Paul, so that his ministry might truly bear fruit a hundred-fold and that he, working together with all his clergy, lead all of you in the direction of the heavenly Kingdom and into the glory of God.