The recently refurbished main reception room at the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America here was dedicated to the memory of the late Metropolitan Leonty on Tuesday evening, March 12, 2013.
After celebrating a Panikhida for the repose of Metropolitan Leonty’s soul, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon presided at the dedication. Members of the Holy Synod of Bishops, who began their spring session earlier in the day, were present, as were members of the late Primate’s family and guests associated with him. His Eminence, Archbishop Justinian of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, also was present.
One of a number of missionary priests who labored in America since the beginning of the early 20th century, Metropolitan Leonty served in a variety of capacities prior to his election as Primate of what at that time was popularly known as the “Metropolia” at the Eighth All-American Sobor in December 1950. In a sense, his life was woven intimately into the history of what today is the Orthodox Church in America. It was during his tenure that the Central Church Administration began to take on its present form. In reference to this, the late Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, at the time of Metropolitan Leonty’s repose, wrote that “the Church was equipped with a coherent administrative structure, with institutions making it possible for her to grow and develop.” In his later years, he resided at the Chancery, where he fell asleep in the Lord on May 14, 1965. He is interred behind the main church at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery, South Canaan, PA. [A detailed biography is available here].
With the repainting of the Chancery interior, the idea of dedicating the room to Metropolitan Leonty’s memory had been proposed.
“After some discussion, we were pleased to dedicate the room as ‘The Metropolitan Leonty Room,’” said Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary. “For many years, his portrait has graced the room, in which additional personal items from the OCA Archives and elsewhere are now displayed as a tribute to his pastoral leadership.”
Father Eric added that “members of Metropolitan Leonty’s family were involved in the process and donated some of his personal items. We were especially honored to have them join us at the dedication.”
In addition to remarks offered by Metropolitan Tikhon and Matushka Tamara Skvir, a granddaughter of Metropolitan Leonty, addressed those at the dedication and the reception that followed. [Matushka Tamara is the wife of Archpriest Daniel Skvir, long-time rector of Holy Transfiguration Chapel, Princeton, NJ.] Also offering personal remarks was Archpriest John Nehrebecki, retired rector of Christ the Saviour Church, Paramus, NJ.
Alexis Liberovsky, OCA Archivist, offered a detailed presentation on Metropolitan Leonty’s life, times, and ministry. In his remarks, Mr. Liberovsky shared a quote from Metropolitan Leonty at the First All-American Sobor in Mayfield, PA in May 1907, which provides a keen insight into his vision of the Church on the North American continent: “Renewed in spirit, with faith and hope in God, may our Church grow and be courageous, pure, loving and strong in her unity; may she draw unto her bosom not only the Uniates, who are our brothers by blood, but advancing beyond the Russian race, may all those who live in America be drawn to the Holy Apostolic Church, so that here, there would be one flock and one Shepherd, Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory and majesty with the Father and the Holy Spirit unto ages of ages.”
On July 1, 1958, Metropolitan Leonty presided at the blessing and formal presentation of the present Chancery as his new official residence. “Praying as we began our task, we entered this spacious house,” he said. “The faces of the Lord’s saints, dear to the soul, have been brought into the house. And it is hoped that they will remain here throughout the years to come, as a testament to the descendants who will continue here the tasks of the fathers: to highly exalt the Light of Orthodoxy in the land of Columbus, to humbly maintain reason and vision and to mercifully love one’s neighbor.”
Among other family members who attended the dedication were granddaughters Julie (Julianna Nicholas) Turkevich and Elisabeth Nicholas Blizzard; and George von Baumgarten, a family member who for six years lived and cared for Metropolitan Leonty in Syosset. Other guests included Archpriest Alexander Golubov; Archpriest Daniel and Matushka Dunya Hubiak; Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor, and Matushka Denise; Archpriest Samuel Kedala; Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky; Archpriest John Kreta; Archpriest Sergius Kuharsky; Archpriest Joseph and Matushka Shirley Lickwar; Archpriest Vassily Lickwar; Archpriest John and Matushka Eugenia Nehrebecki; and Melanie Ringa, OCA Treasurer.
A photo gallery of the dedication may be accessed on the OCA web site and OCA Facebook page.
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