Finnish Hierarch to Visit

The Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude, Metropolitan THEODOSIUS, announced today that he will welcome His Eminence, Metropolitan LEO of Helsinki for an official visit to the Orthodox Church in America, October 1-15, 1997. Accompanying the Metropolitan is Fr Veikko Purmonen, Dean of the Dormition Cathedral in Helsinki.

The Orthodox Church of Finland has 56,000 members, and is divided in three dioceses: Karelia, Helsinki and Oulu. The hierarch residing in the diocese of Karelia is the Primate of the Finnish Orthodox Church, currently headed by Archbishop John. The other diocesan bishops are metropolitans, such as Metropolitan Leo of the Helsinki Diocese. Most parishes use only Finnish for divine services, although Church Slavonic is also used regularly in Helsinki and occasionally in other communities. Formerly under the Moscow Patriarchate, when Finland became independent in 1917, the Church’s administrative links with the Russian Orthodox Church ended in 1923 the Finnish Church became an autonomous body under the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

During his visit to the United States, Metropolitan Leo will be received by Archbishop SPYRIDON at the Greek Archdiocese in New York, Archbishop PETER of the OCA Diocese of New York and New Jersey, Archbishop HERMAN of the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania, the Finnish Ambassador to America in Washington, in addition to participating in liturgical and academic events at St Vladimir’s, St Tikhon’s, and Holy Cross Seminaries.

Metropolitan Leo was born Leo Makkinnen in 1948, in Pielavesi to an Orthodox family. He completed seminary studies in Orthodox theology in Kuopio and later at the University of Joensuu. Ordained a priest in 1973, he was consecrated Bishop of Joensuu, Auxiliary to the Diocese of Karelia in 1979. The following year he became the first Metropolitan of the Oulu Diocese in the north. He is a known student of the late Archbishop Paul of Finland, who died in 1988, and who revitalized liturgical and spiritual life in Finland

On May 14, 1996 the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in Finland, elected Leo to head the Helsinki Diocese, the most important of the dioceses of the Church in Finland. He succeeds Metropolitan Tikhon, who retired because of ill health.

Metropolitan LEO will return to Helsinki on Oct 15.