His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas, 75, spiritual leader of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA, reposed in the Lord on Sunday, March 13, 2011 after waging a courageous battle with cancer.
Metropolitan Nicholas was born on February 23, 1936. The son of the late Anna [Totin] and Andrew Smisko, he is a priestly vocation from Saint John the Baptist Church, Perth Amboy, NJ. After graduating from Perth Amboy High School, he entered Christ the Saviour Seminary in Johnstown, PA, to study for the Holy Priesthood. Upon graduation, he was ordained on January 11, 1959 by Bishop Orestes in Perth Amboy, NJ. His first pastorate was at Saints Peter and Paul Church in Windber, PA, where he served until 1962.
A new phase of his life began when he embarked on a year’s study at the renowned Patriarchal Theological Academy at Halki, Constantinople. During his stay in the city, the young priest was assigned by the late Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras to serve the spiritual needs of the large Slavic Orthodox community in the Galata section of Istanbul. He also traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East, visiting the sacred sites of the Holy Land and living for a time on Mount Athos, the ancient monastic center of the Orthodox Church.
Upon his return to the US, he resumed studies at the University of Youngstown, OH, and the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. He was then assigned as Prefect of Discipline at Christ the Saviour Seminary in Johnstown, and served several parishes in the Johnstown area, before relocating in 1971 to New York City, where he served as pastor of Saint Nicholas Church.
He was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite in 1976, elected by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople as Auxiliary Bishop for the Ukrainian Orthodox Diocese of America, and consecrated as Bishop on March 13, 1983.
Following the death of Bishop John [Martin] in September of 1984, Bishop Nicholas was chosen as the third ruling hierarch of the Carpatho-Russian Diocese and enthroned in Christ the Saviour Cathedral by His Eminence, Archbishop Iakovos on April 19, 1985.
He was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan by His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on November 24, 1997.
Over his many years of service to Christ anzd His Holy Church, His Eminence has proven to be a worthy laborer in the Vineyard of the Lord. In recognition for his labors he was the recipient of the Saints Cyril and Methodius Award, given by the Orthodox Church of Czechoslovakia; the Saint Sava Award from Patriarch Pavel of the Serbian Orthodox Church; and the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Holy Cross School of Theology.
His Eminence has been noted for his love for his flock and the liturgical services of the Church, and his devotion to the Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He was well-respected in Orthodox and ecumenical circles as being a promoter of peace and mutual understanding amongst all Christ-loving people. True to his patron Saint, Nicholas the wonderworker, His Eminence was perhaps best known and respected for his pastoral sensitivity, generosity of spirit and compassion for the sick, suffering and the less fortunate.
On Wednesday, March 16, visitation will begin at Christ the Saviour Cathedral, Johnston, PA, at 1:00 p.m. A Panikhida will be celebrated at 7:00 p.m. On the following day, visitation will begin at 10:00 a.m., with Panikhida at 7:00 p.m. The Funeral Service, at which His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios will preside, will begin at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, March 18, after which Metropolitan Nicholas will be transferred to his home parish of Saint John in Perth Amboy, NJ. On Saturday, March 19, visitation will begin at Saint John Church at 1:00 p.m., with Panikhida at 7:00 p.m. The Sunday Divine Liturgy iwll be celebrated at 9:0 a.m., after which visitation will continue through the celebration of a Parastas at 7:00 p.m. On Monday, March 21, Archbishop Demetrios will preside at the Panikhida and Pouring of Oil, followed by interment in Saint John Parish Cemetery.
May Metropolitan Nicholas’ memory be eternal!