by Archpriest Joseph Lickwar
JERSEY CITY, NJ [OCA]—On Saturday, May 8, 2010, over 1000 faithful—including nine bishops, 125 clergy, and 100 seminarians and their families—gathered at Saints Peter and Paul Church here to celebrate the consecration of His Grace, Michael as Bishop of New York and the Diocese of New York and New Jersey.
The consecrating hierarchs included His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah; His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate; His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada; His Grace, Bishop Nikon of Boston and New England and the Albanian Archdiocese; His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania; His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West; His Grace, Bishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania; and His Grace, Bishop Mark and His Grace, Bishop Thomas of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.
In keeping to a tradition, the newly consecrated Bishop Michael ordained Deacon Danial Doss to the priesthood and Subdeacon Thaddeus Franta to the diaconate. Both are students at Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, at which Bishop Michael served as dean for many years.
A banquet with over 600 attendees followed, with a program consisting of reflections and congratulations offered by Metropolitan Jonah; Bishop Tikhon; Archimandrite Matthias [Moriak], a seminary classmate of Bishop Michael; Priest Joel Weir, who represented the student body of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary; and Protodeacon Peter Skoog, who had served with Bishop Michael when he was a parish priest.
Bishop Michael, humbled and grateful, announced that he would use the gifts he received in an effort to the revitalize parishes by creating a fund to supplement priests’ salaries. He said that his work as bishop is not about himself, but the Church.
On Sunday, May 9, during the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at which Metropolitan Jonah presided at Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral, New York, NY, Bishop Michael was enthroned and presented with his archpastoral staff. Concelebrating were His Eminence, Archbishop Justinian of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Patriarchal parishes in the USA; His Grace, Bishop Seraphim, formerly of Sendai, Japan; Archbishop Nathaniel, Bishop Melchisedek, and Antiochian Bishop Mark; and 15 priests and six deacons. During the Liturgy, Bishop Michael ordained Subdeacon John Diamantis to the diaconate. A reception followed.
Biography of Bishop Michael
The son of Ann [Rosics] and the late Peter Dahulich, Bishop Michael was born in Johnson City, NY, on August 29, 1950. He grew up in Binghamton, NY. He has one brother, retired US Air Force Captain George Dahulich, who presently works for Lockheed Martin and lives in Centreville, VA; and one sister, Barbara Knighton, who lives in Binghamton and works as a secretary at the State University of New York at Binghamton.
He was baptized in the Orthodox Faith as an infant at Saint Michael Church, Binghamton, where his parents had been married in 1948. His father was a convert from Byzantine Rite Catholicism, while his mother was born into the Orthodox faith. His mother, together with her parents, nurtured him in the Faith by their example, and his mother read to him Bible stories and the lives of the Saints from his earliest childhood.
From the age of 10 until his graduation from college and entrance into seminary, he served as an altar boy under the tutelage of his pastor, Protopresbyter Stephen Dutko, who was the inspiration for his vocation. At the age of 14, praying before the Icon of the Theotokos on the Feast of her Dormition, he pledged himself to serve the Holy Church in whatever capacity God would direct him, asking the protection and guidance of the Holy Mother.
He attended Binghamton Central High School in 1967. His senior paper was a biography of Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras. He graduated two years later from Broome Community College, and set out to pursue his dream to serve the Church by attending Christ the Saviour Seminary, Johnstown, PA. He completed his theological studies there in December 1972, having been privileged to be mentored by His Grace, Bishop John [Martin] of Nyssa of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese.
While a student at the Seminary, he met Deborah Sandak, a parishioner of Johnstown’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral. They were engaged on the Feast of the Protection of the Theotokos in 1972 and married on January 21, 1973 in the Johnstown Cathedral.
He was ordained by Bishop John—first to the diaconate on February 3, 1973, at Saint Peter the Apostle Chapel, Johnstown, and the following day to the priesthood—at Christ the Saviour Cathedral.
Father Michael assumed his first parish assignment at Saints Peter and Paul Church, Homer City, PA, a small mission community which had never had a full-time priest, on Sunday, February 18, 1973. Two days later, en route to dinner at his best friend’s home in Jenners, PA, he and his wife suffered a car accident. His wife was killed instantly, and he was hospitalized for three months. He struggled for a long time afterward with her loss.
In June 1973, he returned to serve the Homer City parish, while living at Christ the Saviour Seminary. His wife’s death had had a profound affect on the young priest, and after months of spiritual struggle, Bishop John decided it best for him to pursue further studies, reasoning that he “did best in the classroom.” Bishop John provided him with a vehicle for commuting and funded his education personally. Bishop Michael has never forgotten his mentor’s generosity, and he strives to this day to provide scholarships for his students in remembrance of what was given to him.
Over the next few years, Father Michael attended Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, PA, from which he graduated with a degree in philosophy, and Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, from which he graduated with a Master of Arts in Theology and later a Ph.D. in Theology with a concentration in New Testament studies.
Upon his graduation from Saint Vincent College, he was named Prefect of Student Life at Christ the Saviour Seminary, a position he held for five years. When Saints Peter and Paul Church achieved full parish status, he became its first full-time pastor. He was also assigned as instructor of ethics at the seminary, where he also taught Scripture and homiletics, until he was transferred from the area in 1985. During his Ph.D. studies he served as adjunct lecturer at Duquesne, teaching Scripture and Eastern Orthodoxy in the Theology Department.
For nearly 13 years, Father Michael served Saints Peter and Paul Church. He was privileged to see it grow from 60 to more than 130 members, and from mission to parish status. The physical facilities of the parish grew during Father Michael’s tenure as well: the church building was brick-encased, its interior was decorated, and a rectory was built.
During that time, Father Michael also served as Religious Education Director for the Johnstown Deanery and as Associate Editor of The Church Messenger. In 1982, he was elevated to the rank of Archpriest and named Vice-Chancellor of the Diocese. In addition, he served as personal secretary to Bishop John until his untimely death in 1984.
He continued as Vice-Chancellor and Secretary to His Grace, Bishop Nicholas of Amissos, until December of 1985, when he was transferred to Holy Ghost Church, Phoenixville, PA, where he served as pastor for 16 years. During his pastorate, the parish grew from 256 to nearly 450 members, including more than 100 children. Several improvements in the temple and the 20-acre facility were successfully undertaken, and more than half a million dollars was raised toward the building of a new educational facility. A pre-school and day care were established, with the intention of eventually establishing an Orthodox school.
Father Michael was also named to the Study and Planning Commission and the Ecumenical Commission of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas. He served for more than a decade as Dean of the Mid-Atlantic Deanery parishes and Vice-Chairman of the Harvest 2000 Committee on Missions, Evangelization and Diocesan Growth. He also edited the Diocesan prayerbook, Come To Me.
He was especially honored in 1998 to be named Protopresbyter by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and elevated to that rank by His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas of Amissos, in his parish in Phoenixville.
In 1993, Father Michael accepted the invitation of His Eminence, Archbishop Herman, to teach at Saint Tikhon’s Seminary. In 2001, he was released from the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese to the Orthodox Church in America to serve full-time at Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, first as Administrative Dean (2001-2002) and then as Dean (2002-present). He taught courses in Old and New Testaments, Homiletics, Pastoral Theology, and Ethics.
During the past nine years, God has blessed Saint Tikhon’s by more than doubling its enrollment. Father Michael was privileged to be a part of the team that earned national accreditation for the seminary from the Association of Theological Schools in the US and Canada. He helped work on a revision of the curriculum for the Master of Divinity program, and has served as Editor of the Tikhonaire; The Spirit of St. Tikhon’s; By the Waters; and St. Tikhon’s Theological Journal. He also works as director of recruitment, development, and fundraising at the school.
Also during this time, he served as a member of the Board of Theological Education of the Orthodox Church in America, OCA Representative to the National Advisory Board of the American Bible Society, a member (and former national secretary) of the Orthodox Theological Society of America, and a member of the Advisory Board of the Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology and Religion.
Bishop Michael has tried to bring to the Office of Dean a pastoral sensibility borne out of 28 years of parish ministry. He believes that the Lord has commanded clergy to do two very important things: to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28), and to assist those in need (Matthew 25). He has sought to recruit into the seminary men who share that vision and to promote that vision beyond ordination through the seminary’s efforts in continuing education for clergy. His goal has been for every student to be able to study for the priesthood without having to worry about financial concerns. The two top priorities of his deanship toward that end have been scholarships for deserving students and assistance for married students and their families.
Additionally, Bishop Michael has published a number of articles in theological journals, magazines and newspapers. He has had a recurring column in The Orthodox Herald on “Sobornost.” He has presented several papers, delivered numerous talks, lectures, and keynote addresses, and led many seminars and retreats in schools and parishes throughout the country, as well as teaching week-long seminars in Scripture in both Brazil and India.
On August 24, 2009, Father Michael was selected as a nominee for Bishop of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey by clergy and lay delegates at a Special Diocesan Assembly. On September 22, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America elected him to the episcopacy for the Diocese of New York and New Jersey.
Bishop-Elect Michael was tonsured as a Riasophor Monk on October 23, 2009 at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery Church by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, who also tonsured him into the Lesser Schema at the Monastery Church on Holy Tuesday, March 30, 2010. The following day he was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite and awarded the mitre by the Metropolitan.
Bishop Michael’s philosophy of life is taken from Saint Paul the Apostle: to do his best to fight the good fight, and to run the race of salvation, by working as hard as he can, as fast as he can, for as long as he can, until the Lord calls him to pass the baton on to someone else (2 Timothy 4).