On June 28, 2002, delegates to the Church Congress of the Orthodox Church in America’s Romanian Episcopate gathered at Vatra Romaneasca here to nominate Archimandrite Irineu [Duvlea] as a candidate for Auxiliary Bishop of the Episcopate.
“During the 1990s, the Romanian Episcopate experienced explosive growth with the arrival of thousands of new immigrants from Romania,” according to the Very Rev. John Matusiak, OCA Communications Director. “Dozens of new parishes and missions have been organized, while many of the Episcopate’s established parishes have increased in size in the process. By 1999, the Episcopate Congress had recommended that His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit explore the possibility of naming an auxiliary bishop to assist him in his ever-expanding archpastoral duties.”
In the Spring of 2002, Archbishop Nathaniel appointed a commission to consider qualified candidates for the position of auxiliary bishop. After much study and reflection, commission members recommended Archimandrite Irineu to the Episcopate Council. On April 28, 2002, Archbishop Nathaniel and Council members called for a special electoral session during the annual Church Congress, at which time nearly 120 delegates voted to submit Archimandrite Irineu’s name to the Holy Synod of Bishops for canonical election.
On Wednesday, July 24, 2002, at a special session at which His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman presided, members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America formally elected Archimandrite Irineu to the episcopacy as Auxiliary to His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit with the title of Bishop of Dearborn Heights, MI. Metropolitan Herman will preside at Archimandrite Irineu’s consecration, together with Archbishop Nathaniel and other members of the Holy Synod of Bishops, at Saint George Cathedral, Southfield, MI November 1-2, 2002.
Archimandrite Irineu [Duvlea] was born April 19, 1962 in Alba Iulia, Transylvania, Romania, the son of John and Aurelia Duvlea. In 1981, he entered the Theological Seminary in Cluj Napoca. After graduating from the seminary in 1987, he continued his studies at the Andrei Saguna Theological Institute in Sibiu, from which he graduated in 1991.
In 1980, he entered the Brancoveanu Monastery at Sambata de Sus, Brasov County, Romania, where he was ordained to the Holy Diaconate by His Emimence, Archbishop John of Helsinki, Finland on behalf of His Eminence, Metropolitan Antonie [Plamadeala] of Transylvania on May 3, 1983. Three weeks later he was tonsured to monastic rank by His Grace, Bishop Lucian of Fagaras. He was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by Metropolitan Antonie in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Sibiu on November 17, 1984.
On August 15, 1988, he was named Protosyngelos by Metropolitan Antonie. On January 1, 1993, he was appointed Hegumen of the Brancoveanu Monastery and was charged with overseeing the life of 15 neighboring monasteries and 10 sketes. In this capacity, he tonsured 30 monks and 15 nuns and installed most of the abbots and abbeses of the monasteries in the Sibiu Diocese. On August 15,1993, he was named Archimandrite of the monastery on the occasion of its consecration by His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and His Holiness, Patriarch Teoctist of Romania, and was presented with a patriarchal cross by the Ecumenical Patriarch. On September 24, 2000, the Holy Synod of Romania awarded him the right to wear a mitre.
Archimandrite Irineu made two pilgrimages to Mount Athos and, in 1998, he visited monasteries in Bulgaria and Greece and made a pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint Nicholas in Bari, Italy.
As head of the Brancoveanu Monastery, Father Irineu hosted several patriarchs, including His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew; His Holiness, Patriarch Parthenius of Alexandria; His Holiness, Patriarch Ignatius of Antioch; His Holiness, Patriarch Pavle of Serbia; and His Holiness, Patriarch Maxim of Bulgaria. Among the other ranking Church dignitaries he hosted there were Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit; His Eminence, Metropolitan Antonios [Schedrawui] of Mexico; and Archbishop John of Finland. Among the civic leaders whom he received at the monastery were His Majesty, King Michael; the presidents of Romania; and numerous prime ministers.
When Archbishop Nathaniel established the Center for Orthodox Christian Studies at Saint Andrew’s House in Detroit in the late 1990s, it was his dream to provide a monastic presence. On February 23, 2001, Archimandrite Irineu and a group of monks from Romania were granted a canonical release from the Patriarchate of Romania in order to establish a monastic community at the Center, named in honor of the Holy Ascension. Archimandrite Irineu was appointed Abbot of the new community, where he has labored tirelessly to offer hospitality and comfort not only to the Romanian community, but to the entire Orthodox population of Greater Detroit and the Midwest.