On Sunday, March 16, 2008, His Eminence, Metropolitan Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia fell asleep in the Lord.
His Eminence was born Vassily Skurla on January 1, 1928, in Ladomirovo, Czechoslovakia. As a young boy he was already drawn to the monastic life. In 1939, with the blessing of his father, the young Vassily joined the monastery of St. Job of Pochaev in Ladimorovo. He became a novice five years later at age 16.
After facing the dangers of life during World War II as the German-Soviet front approached Ladimorovo, and fleeing west through Czechoslovakia, Germany, and Switzerland, in 1946, with the other members of the monastic brotherhood, he came to Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York.
In March 1948, Vassily was tonsured a ryassophore monk, being given the name ‘Laurus.’ In 1949, he took the small schema and was ordained to the diaconate. In 1954, he was ordained to the priesthood. In 1959 he was made an igumen, and in 1966 an archimandrite. He graduated from Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville in 1954, and in 1960 was appointed Dean of the Seminary.
In 1967, Archimandrite Laurus was elected Bishop of Manhattan and was appointed secretary of the Synod of Bishops.
In 1976, Bishop Laurus was elected abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY and was appointed Bishop of Syracuse and Holy Trinity. In 1981, he was elevated to archbishop.
In October 2001 Archbishop Laurus was elected Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York and the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
In 2006, Metropolitan Laurus chaired the fourth All-Diaspora Council of ROCOR, at which approval was given for reconciliation and normalization of relations with the Moscow Patriarchate. On May 17, 2007, he participated in the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion in Moscow, Russia and participated in a joint liturgy with the Patriarch of Moscow at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow.
An announcement of funeral services for His Eminence, Metropolitan Laurus will be forthcoming.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, said “the death of His Eminence, Metropolitan Laurus is a great loss for all of us. He labored diligently for long decades - first as a monastic and then as a hierarch. He crowned his service in Christ’s Church and as First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia with his courage in achieving reconciliation within the Russian Orthodox Church. At every stage of his ministry he maintained monastic humility, simplicity, and joy. May his memory be eternal!”