Remarks of Metropolitan Tikhon at the conclusion of the Panikhida for Metropolitan Theodosius

Saint John the Baptist Orthodox Church, Canonsburg, PA
October 21, 2020

Your Eminences,
Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers,

This evening, we lift up prayers on the third day of repose of the newly-departed servant of God, His Beatitude Metropolitan Theodosius, of blessed memory. We offer these prayers in his home parish, the Church of Saint John the Baptist, as a fitting place to bid farewell to one who was born and raised here, in the local neighborhood of Canonsburg, within the embrace of his pious earthly family and the nurturing of the parish community, which has now gathered to commend his soul into the hands of our Lord Jesus Christ, just as they received him at his entrance into this earthly life in 1933.

From his earliest days, Metropolitan Theodosius faithfully and consistently served Christ and the Holy Orthodox Church, offering his talents on the highest levels of the ministry of administration in the Church: as hierodeacon, hieromonk, diocesan bishop, and most eminently, as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America for a quarter of a century, or half of her existence as an autocephalous Church. 

Even when fulfilling the most exalted aspects of this sacred service, whether presiding at hierarchical and primatial liturgies, receiving the Tomos of Autocephaly, hosting heads of Churches, or advising heads of state, Metropolitan Theodosius always remained an altar server at heart, that is, a humble servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as he had learned to be when he stood in the altar of this parish. In this, he most clearly offered all of us an image of the humility and meekness of the Lord.

On behalf of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, I offer my sincere condolences to the rector of Saint John the Baptist Church, Father John Kotalik, together with Matushka Janine, and all the parishioners of Saint John the Baptist. During the past several months, Father John has ministered to Metropolitan Theodosius and has also kept me and my office informed of developments with respect to his health. I am grateful to him and to all the members of the parish who have provided hospitality to Metropolitan Theodosius throughout his life and ministry, and especially in his retirement.

We also offer our gratitude to Archpriest Joseph Oleynik, the long-serving immediate past rector of this parish, and Matushka Annice, for their many years of prayerful love and filial support for His Beatitude. Both Father Joseph and now Father John have maintained a constant foundation of pastoral encouragement for Metropolitan Theodosius by keeping him well-connected to the liturgical, sacramental, and communal life of Saint John the Baptist, even under sometimes challenging circumstances.

My special thanks go also to Protodeacon John and Myra Oleynik who greatly assisted in this task, faithfully serving and assisting Metropolitan Theodosius by taking care of both his spiritual and practical needs for these many years. Truly your service is a great honor and testimony to the respect and honor he commanded of all of us.

I am grateful this evening for the presence and prayers of the members of the Holy Synod, His Eminence Archbishop Benjamin, of San Francisco and the Diocese of the West, and His Eminence Archbishop Melchisedek, the local bishop here in Pittsburgh and the Diocese of Western Pennsylvania, who are here with us this evening and, along with other hierarchs and clergy over the next few days, will join me in offering our thanks to God for the life and service of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius.

May his soul rest in the bosom of Abraham, may he find peace in the land of the living, and may his memory be eternal.