Posts tagged Job Osacky
February 6, 1993: Bishop Job Osacky was enthroned as the new OCA Bishop of Chicago, almost exactly ten years after his consecration to the episcopate. Bishop (and later Archbishop) Job went on to become a key advocate for transparency in the recent OCA crisis before his untimely death in 2009.
February 8, 1973: St. Vladimir’s Seminary professor Basil Bensin died in North Carolina. Bensin lived an eventful life. Born in Russia in 1881, he met St. Tikhon (then the Bishop of North America) in 1903, when Tikhon was on a visit to St. Petersburg. Tikhon recruited Bensin to come to America, taking a position as professor at the first Russian seminary in Minneapolis from 1905-1912. In 1912, he earned a degree in agricultural sciences from the University of Minnesota — a credential which would come in handy later. The seminary moved to Tenafly, NJ, and Bensin continued to teach until the turmoil following the Bolshevik Revolution made seminary life impossible. Bensin moved to Czechoslovakia for a decade before returning to America to work as an agricultural engineer in Alaska. When St. Vladimir’s Seminary was established in 1938, Bensin was one of the original professors, and he remained at SVS until his retirement in 1952. In retirement, Bensin continued his scholarly work, devoting a lot of time to researching the history of Orthodoxy in America. He produced only a few articles on the subject, but there must be valuable material in his notes (which are kept at SVS). (My sources for this information are Bensin’s obituary in St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly and a short biography at the Hoover Institution website.)
February 9, 1908: Bishop Raphael Hawaweeny ordained Theophan Noli, an Albanian student at Harvard, to the priesthood, on behalf of Russian Archbishop Platon Rozhdestvensky. Two years ago, I wrote about Noli’s first Albanian liturgy, but I erroneously said that Archbishop Platon had performed Noli’s ordination. But apart from that mistake, that old article is still pretty decent, and if you want to know more about Noli, you might check it out.
February 11, 1962: In Damascus, Fr. Michael Shaheen was consecrated as the Antiochian Bishop of Toledo, Ohio. This is a complicated story, and I don’t have time to tell it all here, but the gist of it is this: Since the mid-1930s, the Antiochians in America had been divided into two overlapping jurisdictions — the Archdiocese of New York (led by Metropolitan Antony Bashir) and the Archdiocese of Toledo (led by Metropolitan Samuel David). Met Samuel had died in 1958, and after a lot of behind-the-scenes machinations, the Antiochian Holy Synod chose Archimandrite Michael Shaheen to replace him. But Shaheen was a priest of the New York — not Toledo — Archdiocese, and although he was consecrated with the title “Bishop of Toledo,” in reality he was to serve merely as an auxiliary to Met Antony. In this way, it was hoped, the two Antiochian jurisdictions would be united at last. But it didn’t work: the Toledo parishes refused to accept Bp Michael unless he denounced Met Antony. In response to the impasse, the Holy Synod changed course, recognizing Toledo as an independent diocese and raising Bp Michael to the rank of Metropolitan. In this way, the Antiochian schism persisted for another 13 years, until Metropolitan Michael accepted a demotion of sorts, recognizing the authority of Bashir’s successor Metropolitan Philip Saliba for the sake of unity.
February 12, 1907: Bishop Platon Rozhdestvensky was elected to the Second State Duma (equivalent to a parliament) in Russia. Within months, he would replace Archbishop Tikhon Bellavin as primate of the Russian Archdiocese in North America.
January 23, 1921: Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine died of heart disease in New York, at the age of 71. Irvine has been a frequent topic on this website. Born in Ireland, Irvine came to the US as a teenager and served as an Episcopal priest for a quarter century before being defrocked by his bishop for “conduct unbecoming a clergyman.” In 1905, he converted to Orthodoxy and was ordained a priest by St. Tikhon, the Russian archbishop. Irvine was put in charge of “English work” in the Russian Church. He continued to attract controversy as an Orthodox priest, alienating most everyone he encountered, although St. Raphael found him useful in promoting the use of English. Needless to say, we’ll continue to examine Irvine’s career in future articles.
January 27, 1939: Fr. Michael Husson died at the age of 79. He was one of the first Syrian/Antiochian clergymen in America, and spent many years as the rector of St. George Church in Worcester, MA. Here is one account of Fr. Michael, quoted in Arab American Faces and Voices by my grandmother’s cousin Elizabeth Boosahda (page 92):
It was Rev. Michael who told my family about their relatives living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa… Father Husson came from Worcester and he would travel all over the West because there was no Syrian Orthodox priest. He went from one town to another to do the duties of a priest. There were very, very few Orthodox priests in this country. Besides, Father Husson once a year would travel — he would wire ahead — and he would go to these different towns. Father Husson baptized my sister Mabel, and she was born in Cedar Rapids. He would go out to these places by train. People would give him a few dollars for all he did and then he would be on his way more informed as to the eligibility of those for marriage.
January 27, 1980: Fr. Basil Essey was ordained to the priesthood. Later, he was consecrated a bishop, and of course today he is the Antiochian Bishop of Wichita and the Secretary of the Assembly of Bishops.
January 29, 1983: Bishop Job Osacky was consecrated as the OCA Bishop of Hartford, CT. He eventually took over the OCA’s Midwest Diocese and became an archbishop, and in his later years, he became famous (and, in some circles, infamous) for his call for openness and transparency in the OCA. He died unexpectedly in December 2009.
If you know of any other important American Orthodox events that took place between January 23 and January 29, please let us know in the comments!
On Friday morning, many of us in the American Orthodox world learned of the untimely repose of His Eminence, Archbishop Job, bishop of Chicago and the Diocese of the Midwest in the OCA. This is sad news for both the OCA and the Orthodox Churches in America across jurisdictional lines. As the member of the executive board of SOCHA who is in the OCA and as one whose life has been directly affected by him, I have decided to write a personal reflection on what his ministry means to me and what I hope it can mean to us in America as we move forward.
On January 18, 2003, Archbishop Job ordained me to the priesthood at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. Following this liturgy, knowingly in the presence of extended family who were not Orthodox, he gave basic but important pastoral advice that I remember to this day—a priest must love his parishioners. Love must come above all other feelings. Everything must be done out of love for them. I am sure I am hardly alone. I would think that all priests remember the advice given to them on the day of their ordination. Perhaps, this was Archbishop Job’s standard admonition at priestly ordinations. Regardless, this advice speaks of the concern His Eminence had for the life of the Church. It must be founded on love because that is how people are to know that we are the true followers of Christ. That is our evangelism! If a person wants to know how to succeed in parish life, both in terms of sustaining the life already there and increasing the life of the parish, one need only read St. John the Theologian’s epistles. We don’t need schemes and programs. We need love.
Not long after my ordination, he showed me that love personally. I had applied to a few doctoral programs in the Midwest, but had heard negatively from all but one. Therefore, I was likely soon to be assigned to a mission in the Upper Midwest. Not long after +Job and I had begun discussing the details, Saint Louis University, the only school from which I had not yet heard, accepted me and offered me a research assistantship to cover my costs. I did not know what to do, so Lorie and I received counsel from two priests whom we trusted. They suggested we lay it out before +Job, which we did. His Eminence, being reasonable and prudent, agreed with the perspective of these priests, that academic doors do not open often, and gave me his blessing to attend SLU. He knew of our commitment to being in the Diocese of the Midwest and he spoke of how things are directed by God’s providence. Not all bishops would have done this, but Archbishop Job did. He has done much more for other priests, for I have seen that as well. Mine is but a small example of how he loved his priests.
As a pastor who has spent several years attached to another parish, where I assisted the rector in his ministry, and who has been pastoring a mission with its own turbulant yet admirable history, I have come to see the full dimensions of what it means for a priest to love his congregation. When times are difficult, we are there. When times are good, we are there. When people cower in the sight of parish life and run, we remember that love entails free will and allow them such freedom, all the while keeping the door open for their return. When parishioners struggle with aspects of Church life or tradition, or even something we have said, we show patience and endurance. In rare cases, we even know that loving the congregation means the vine must occasionally be pruned, painful though this process is to all. We also know that when the times are difficult, we are the ones who must step up and take the blame, for we will receive it, and when times are joyous, we praise the parish.
Archbishop Job himself knew of the struggles of loving the flock under his care. I have seen him in deanery meetings, providing solutions to problems. We have all seen him as he stood up and asked whether the allegations of financial misconduct were true or false. Yes, it is true that it took behind-the-scenes cajoling and much support to encourage him but he did it. He asked the question all other OCA bishops were too scared to ask or refused to ask. What he did was not miraculous, but it was episcopal, it was what a bishop must do—ultimately, when push comes to shove, stand for what is good and true. Would that the Churches in America would have many bishops willing to ask such questions and take such stands!
We have also seen His Eminence demonstrate extreme humility even when there was no need to do so. We know he prostrated before Bishop Nikolai and asked forgiveness. This was unnecessary, but in the heat of the moment, Archbishop Job chose to forego any pretense, even though there would have been no sin at all not to have done this.
Recently, I and the parishioners here in Fargo, North Dakota, also benefitted from his willingness to stand firm and further the development of Orthodox Christianity within the diocese of the midwest. Archbishop Job responded to the actions and appeals of the faithful themselves. Not every bishop would have done this, but he did what he felt was best for the growth of Orthodoxy in the Upper Midwest.
Ultimately, it is this concern for the ongoing health of Orthodoxy that I hope we take from his memory. He cared about the health of Orthodoxy in the Midwest. We must care for the health of Orthodoxy wherever we are. Without good health, it will not matter what methods are devised for uniting Orthodox jurisdictions in America. Without good health, it will not matter what we enact in our parishes to build them into even more loving communities. Without good health, we will fall far too short of the glory of God to attract others or save ourselves. Archbishop Job has served Christ’s Holy Church to this end. May we do the same, and may his memory be eternal!