After two rounds of voting, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America elected His Eminence, Archbishop Herman of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania as the new Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America on July 22, 2002, the opening day of the Church’s 13th All-American Council.
While His Grace, Bishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada received the majority of votes on a second ballot—no candidate received the required two-thirds vote on the first ballot, necessitating a second vote—the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops opted to elect Metropolitan Herman, who has a wealth of experience on every level of the Church’s life, according to the Very Rev. John Matusiak, OCA Communications Director.
“The election of the candidate receiving the second largest number of votes is not uncommon,” Father Matusiak explained. “At the election of Metropolitan Theodosius 25 years ago, another candidate had received the majority vote from the delegates. The same thing happened in the early 1960s when the late Metropolitan Ireney was elected to the Primacy.”
Metropolitan Herman succeeds His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, as Primate of the Church. Earlier on the day of Metropolitan Herman’s election, Metropolitan Theodosius formally retired as the Church’s Primate, in light of health concerns due to a series of strokes he had suffered over the past two years.
Metropolitan Herman, was born Joseph Swaiko in Bairdford, PA on February 1, 1932.
After completing his elementary and secondary education in the West Deer Township PA school district, he enrolled in Robert Morris College, Pittsburgh, where he received a degree in business administration and secretarial science with honors.
Subsequently, he served in the Adjutant General Corps of the US Army, being stationed in Labrador.
After his discharge from the military in 1959, he enrolled in Saint Tikhon Orthodox Theological Seminary, South Canaan, PA, from which he graduated in 1963. He was appointed personal secretary to His Grace, Bishop Kiprian, who became Rector of the seminary in 1961.
Following his ordination to the Holy Diaconate In March 1964 and to the Holy Priesthood the following month, he served on the seminary administration and as Instructor of Church Slavonic. He also served as Rector of Saint John the Baptist Orthodox Church, Dundaff, PA and Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church, Uniondale, PA. He became a member of the seminary accreditation committee, and helped form the seminary’s Board of Trustees, of which he was a charter member and secretary-treasurer.
For many years he served as spiritual advisor to the Anthracite District of the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America.
On December 4, 1970, he was tonsured to monastic rank and given the name Herman, in honor of the recently glorified Saint Herman of Alaska. On October 17, 1971, he was elevated to the rank of Igumen and named Deputy Abbot of Saint Tikhon Monastery.
He was elected to the episcopate on October 19, 1972 and elevated to the rank of Archimandrite three days later. He was consecrated to the episcopacy at Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre, PA on February 10, 1973 with the title of Bishop of Wilkes-Barre, serving as an auxiliary of the Diocese of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania.
Bishop Herman continued to reside at Saint Tikhon Monastery and Seminary, where he continued to teach. In addition to his ministry within the Diocese of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennyslvania, he served as Temporary Administrator of the Diocese of the West in 1975 and Temporary Administrator of the Diocese of New England in 1978. Following the death of Archbishop Kiprian, he was elected Bishop of Philadelphia on March 17, 1981 and Rector of Saint Tikhon Seminary the following May.
In 1994 he was elevated to the rank of Archbishop by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America.
In addition to his service to the Diocese of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, Archbishop Herman has served the Orthodox Church in America in a wide variety of capacities. He has served as chairman of the OCA Department of Finance, vice-chairman of the Department of Missions; member of the Board of Theological Education; vice-chairman of the Preconciliar Commission; episcopal moderator for the Department of Stewardship; chairman of the Pension Board; vice-chairman of the Office of Inter-Church Relations and Ecumenical Witness; and member of the Lesser Synod of Bishops.
Metropolitan Herman has represented the OCA at numerous events abroad, often traveling with Metropolitan Theodosius. He also participated in the historic conference of North America’s Orthodox Bishops in Ligonier, PA in 1994.
On September 29, 1999, he was named acting treasurer of the Orthodox Church in America, while he served as temporary administrator of the Orthodox Church in America from May until September 2001, during Metropolitan Theodosius’ medical leave of absence. Most recently, he oversaw the process leading to the full accreditation of Saint Tikhon Seminary.
Throughout his episcopacy, Metropolitan Herman has received numerous awards and honors, including an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Nashotah House Seminary in Wisconsin and an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree from his alma mater, Robert Morris College. In 1994 he was awarded the Order of Saint Innocent Silver Class, the highest honor bestowed by the Orthodox Church in America.
Following his election, Metropolitan Herman was formally greeted as he Church’s Primate by the other members of the Holy Synod of Bishops and Council participants. He will be formally installed into office at Saint Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral, Washington, DC on September 7-8, 2002.