On Monday, November 19, 2007, His Eminence, Archbishop Peter, retired ruling hierarch of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey fell asleep in the Lord.
Archbishop Peter was born as Paul L’Huillier on December 3, 1926 in Paris, France. In his youth he became interested in Eastern Christian theology. In 1945, while enrolled at the St. Denys Institute in Paris, he embraced the Orthodox faith. In addition to studies at St. Denys, Archbishop Peter did graduate work at the University of Paris and received a Licentiate of Theology from the Moscow Theological Academy in 1962. From the same institution, he earned the prestigious Doctorate of Canon Law degree in 1985. His doctoral dissertation, “The Church of the Ancient Councils—The Disciplinary Work of the First Four Ecumenical Councils”, was published by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press in 1996.
Archbishop Peter began his ecclesiastical life on August 30, 1954, when he was tonsured a monk. On September 4 and 5, 1954, he was ordained hierodeacon and hieromonk. As a hieromonk, His Eminence served as parish pastor at two Orthodox churches in Paris, Three Hierarchs and the Church of our Lady the Joy of Those who Sorrow. In 1960, he was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite. On September 12, 1968, on the Feast of St. Alexander Nevsky, he was consecrated Bishop of Chersonese at St. Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St. Petersburg (then called Leningrad).
In 1979, Archbishop Peter was invited to come to the Orthodox Church in America by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, to serve as the Bishop of Brooklyn. In 1981, he was installed as the Bishop of New York and New Jersey. In 1989, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America bestowed on him the title of Archbishop.
Archbishop Peter was deeply involved the academic world. He lectured at the Institute of St. Denys, Paris, France, from 1949 to 1950. From 1952 to 1962, he taught at the Three Hierarchs Seminary in Villemoisson, France. He was a Professor at the Catholic University in Paris from 1966 to 1978. In 1979, he became Adjunct Professor of Canon Law at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, Crestwood, New York. As a specialist in Orthodox Canon Law, Archbishop Peter occupied a prominent position. He was often sought as an expert in this field by other Orthodox jurisdictions and represented the Orthodox Church at various conferences, meetings, and ecumenical dialogues.
In addition to his archpastoral ministry and academic work, for many years Archbishop Peter was chair of the External Affairs Department of the Orthodox Church in America. His dealings within the international Orthodox community often brought him face to face with other notable hierarchs and Church leaders, many of whom he knew personally. Archbishop Peter’s service in this role played a great part in forging strong relations between the Orthodox Church in America and other Orthodox Churches. His Eminence was also Canonical Advisor for the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA), and was an active promoter of Orthodox unity in North America.
From the spring of 2004, His Eminence was on leave of absence from His archpastoral duties. In March of 2005, the members of the Holy Synod of the OCA accepted Archbishop Peter’s request for retirement, which became effective April 30, 2005.
Funeral services for His Eminence, Archbishop Peter, will be served at Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral, 59 East 2nd Street, New York, NY. On Monday, November 26, he will be waked from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., with a Panikhida served at 7:00 p.m. On Tuesday, November 26, His Eminence will be waked from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., with the Funeral Service for a Hierarch served at 7:00 p.m. On Wednesday, November 28, a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at 9:00 a.m., celebrated by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman and members of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, with final prayers following the Liturgy. After a memorial luncheon, Archbishop Peter will be interred at St. Tikhon’s Monastery in South Canaan, PA.
May His Eminence, Archbishop Peter’s memory be eternal!