I was delighted to learn that Fr John (Berzins), a dear old friend and sparring partner, was consecrated Bishop of Caracas on June 21, 2008, at the Russian Orthodox Old Rite Church of the Holy Nativity in Erie, PA. His consecration was performed by His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, His Grace, Bishop Daniel of Erie, and His Grace, Bishop Peter of Cleveland. Bishop John will administer the parishes of the Russian Church Abroad in South America.
Bishop John has one of the most colorful and eccentric personalities I've ever encountered – and I mean that as a hearty compliment. I'm glad to see from the above photograph, for instance, that on his very first day as bishop he managed to get his mitre crooked and his hair all messed up. He's also a man of both real erudition and monastic experience, as can be seen from this brief curriculum vitae compiled before his consecration:
Born Peteris Berzins on March 3/16, 1957 in Cooma, Australia, of Latvian Orthodox refugees, Leonid (1921-1996) and Margarita (1924- ) Berzins. Grew up in that city. Graduated with a philological degree from Australian National University. Fluent in Ancient Greek and Latin. Entered Holy Trinity Monastery and enrolled in Holy Trinity Seminary in 1982. Graduated HTS in 1985. Tonsured to the mantle on March 16/29, 1985 by Archbishop Laurus of Syracuse and Holy Trinity. Ordained hierodeacon on March 30/April 12, 1987, by Archbishop Laurus. Ordained to the priesthood on October 22/November 4, 1987, also by Archbishop Laurus. From 1992-1996, served as father-confessor at Gethsemane Convent in the Holy Land. In 1994, awarded the gold pectoral cross by Archbishop Laurus of Syracuse and Holy Trinity. From 2001-2005, served as father-confessor at Gethsemane Convent in the Holy Land. In September 2005, elevated to the rank of hegumen by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus. Since 2005, ministers to SS Sergius and German of Valaam Community of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America. In May, 2008, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia designated him as candidate of Bishop of Caracas. Hegumen John is a member of the brotherhood of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY.Not mentioned here is that he spent a couple of years on Mount Athos, where he was tonsured to the Great Schema. Vladyka John's consecration took place at the conclusion at the 2008 Orthodox Conference in Erie, PA, held from June 17-22. Fr John Whiteford, who was in attendance for most of it, has written a three posts with his impressions, with more to come (part 1, part 2, part 3). I was also very interested to read about another recent conference entitled The Place of Women in the Orthodox Church, held simultaneously (June 20-21) at the Holy Protection Church in Glen Cove, NY.
To the newly-consecrated Bishop John of Caracas and his new flock: Many Years!