Primate of Autonomous Japanese Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Theodosius, Dies

It is with great sadness that His Beatitude, Metropolitan THEODOSIUS, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, received word of the death of His Eminence, Metropolitan THEODOSIUS of Tokyo, Primate of the Autonomous Orthodox Church of Japan on Sunday, May 9, 1999.

“The ties between the Orthodox Church in America and the Orthodox Church of Japan have always been especially strong,” the OCA’s Metropolitan THEODOSIUS said upon learning of the Japanese Primates death. “Under the spiritual leadership of Metropolitan THEODOSIUS, the Japanese Church has continued to blossom as an autonomous Church. He will be sadly missed by his flock, as well as by the many Orthodox hierarchs and faithful who were touched by his life.”

Born into a Buddhist family on April 3, 1935, Metropolitan THEODOSIUS as a young student was a frequent visitor to Tokyos Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral, where he first came into contact with Orthodox Christianity. In 1952 he was received into the Orthodox Church and took the Christian name Basil. Later, his father and two brothers also converted to Orthodox Christianity.

At the age of 19, he entered the Tokyo Orthodox Seminary. Upon graduation, he served as an Orthodox catechist at the Church of the Great Martyr Demetrios in Yamato, Japan and later as a catechist in the Orthodox parish in Kanda. He also served as editor of Seikyo Jiho, the Orthodox diocesan monthly journal.

In July 1959 he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by Archbishop IRENEY (Bekish), who was later elected Metropolitan of All America and Canada, and appointed pastor of the Church of the Apostle James in Kogoshima, Kyushu. The following year, he entered Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and Monastery, South Canaan, PA. In 1967 he returned to Japan and, in October 1969, he was tonsured a monk with the name Theodosius.

On July 12, 1969, he was elected to the episcopacy by clergy and lay delegates to the All-Japanese Church Council. His election was confirmed by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of America [the present Orthodox Church in America], under whose jurisdiction the Japanese Church had been placed in 1945.

On November 2, 1969, his consecration to the episcopacy, the first to take place on Japanese soil, took place at Holy Resurrection Cathedral, Tokyo, with His Eminence, Archbishop John [Shahovskoy] of San Francisco and Bishop Vladimir presiding.

Concurrent with the proclamation of autocephaly for the Orthodox Church in America, the Japanese Church returned to the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Moscow, which granted it autonomy. In February 1970, when Bishop Vladimir was named Metropolitan of the newly-proclaimed autonomous Church, Bishop THEODOSIUS was named Bishop of Kyoto and Western Japan. Upon Metropolitan Vladimir’s retirement, Bishop THEODOSIUS was elected Metropolitan of the Japanese Church by the All-Japanese Church Council on March 19, 1972. He continued to serve as Primate of the Church until his death.

Throughout his episcopacy, Metropolitan THEODOSIUS received numerous awards and accolades. In 1988, he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree honoris causa from Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, the first honorary doctorate ever granted by the institution.

Metropolitan THEODOSIUS funeral is scheduled to take place on Thursday, May 13, at Tokyos Holy Resurrection Cathedral, His Emininence, Archbishop HERMAN of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania and the Very Rev. John Udics, Philadelphia, PA, will represent Metropolitan THEODOSIUS and the hierarchs, clergy and laity of the Orthodox Church in America.

Established in the 19th century through the missionary efforts of Saint Nicholas [Kassatkin], the Japanese Church today includes several dioceses which serve an estimated 100,000 faithful throughout Japan. The Church also maintains a theological seminary in Tokyo and publishes a monthly journal. Since its establishment, the Japanese Church had been under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church.

After World War II, it was placed under the jurisdiction of the American Metropolia [today the Orthodox Church in America.] In 1970, it once again returned to the jurisdiction of the Russian Church, which granted it autonomous status.