Twenty-five bishops, over 40 priests and deacons, and hundreds of Orthodox Christian faithful from across North America filled Saint Nicholas Cathedral here on Sunday, September 8, 2002, to witness the Enthronement of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America.
“The Rite of Enthronement took place immediately after the singing of the Trisagion during the Divine Liturgy,” according to the Very Rev. John Matusiak, OCA Communications Director. “Members of the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops led Metropolitan Herman to the High Place, or bishop’s throne, directly behind the altar table. His Grace, Bishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada, Secretary of the Holy Synod of Bishops, read the Act of Election, after which prayers for the newly-enthroned Metropolitan were offered. Finally, Metropolitan Herman was enthroned ‘in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,’ with the hierarchs, clergy and faithful exclaiming ‘Axios!’—‘He is worthy!’—three times.”
Besides the members of the OCA Holy Synod, over a dozen hierarchs representing nearly every autocephalous sister Orthodox Church around the world concelebrated at the Enthronement Liturgy. Among others present for the occasion were representatives of several monasteries, religious and civil dignitaries, including US Senator Paul Sarbenes and representatives from several embassies, faculty and students from Saint Tikhon Seminary, South Canaan, PA and Saint Vladimir Seminary, Crestwood, NY, and members of Metropolitan Herman’s family.
During the festive Liturgy, which also marked the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God, special prayers were offered in commemoration of those who lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
An open reception for Metropolitan Herman was held on the cathedral grounds after the Liturgy, during which Metropolitan Herman personally thanked the faithful for their presence and prayers as he begins his ministry as the OCA’s presiding Archbishop.
Later in the afternoon, a formal reception for over 250 dignitaries and guests was held at the Marriott Wardman Hotel. During the banquet, representatives from delegations from the sister autocephalous Orthodox Churches offered Metropolitan Herman greetings on behalf of their respective flocks. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, who retired as OCA Primate prior to Metropolitan Herman’s election in July 2002, offered a moving tribute to his successor, reflecting on their years of friendship and common ministry.
In response, Metropolitan Herman eloquently thanked the numerous well wishers, noting that they were not only honoring him as he begins his primatial ministry, but that they were honoring the entire Orthodox Church in America by their prayers and presence.
“We must continue to imitate Jesus Christ in all that we do, thankful for the presence and grace of the Holy Spirit as we work together for the building up of the vineyard of Our Lord,” Metropolitan Herman told the audience. “Once we are willing to trust in God, we can accomplish a great deal—and indeed, there is a great deal to be accomplished. So much has been done for the good of the Church, but there is much, much more yet to be done.”
Metropolitan Herman added that he looks forward to working together with the sister autocephalous Orthodox Churches, reminding them that their presence at the Enthronement was a sign of their “significant support” of Orthodox Christianity in North America in general and the Orthodox Church in America in particular.
Other members of the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops concelebrating at the Liturgy were His Eminence, Archbishop Kyrill of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania; His Eminence, Archbishop Peter of New York and New Jersey; His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas and the South; His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate; His Grace, Bishop Job of Chicago and the Midwest; His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of San Francisco and the West; His Grace, Bishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada; and His Grace, Bishop Nikolai of Sitka, Anchorage and Alaska. His Grace, Bishop Nikon of Baltimore, Auxiliary to the Metropolitan; His Eminence, Archbishop Gregory, Retired Bishop of Sitka and Alaska; and His Grace, Bishop Mark, Former Bishop of Boston, also concelebrated.
Among the concelebrating hierarchs representing the sister Orthodox Churches were His Grace, Bishop Savas, Chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Patriarchate of Constantinople; His Grace, Bishop Georgios, Patriarchate of Alexandria; His Grace, Bishop Demetri of Jableh, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, Patriarchate of Antioch; His Eminence, Archbishop Damaskinos of Jaffa, Patriarchate of Jerusalem; His Eminence, Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and His Grace, Bishop Mercurius of Zaraisk, Patriarchate of Moscow; His Eminence, Archbishop Nicolae, Romanian Orthodox Church in America and Canada,Patriarchate of Romania; His Beatitude, Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw and All Poland and His Eminence, Archbishop Abel of Lublin, Orthodox Church of Poland; His Grace, Bishop Simeon, Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia; His Eminence, Metropolitan Daniel of Tokyo, Autonomous Orthodox Church of Japan; and His Eminence, Archbishop Avgustin of Lviv and Galicia, Autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate. Other Churches were represented by clergy.