by Archpriest Timothy Hojnicki
NOTE: Saturday, February 10, 2018 marked the 45th Anniversary of the Consecration of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Former Archbishop of Washington and New York, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, to the episcopacy. He had been elected by the Holy Synod of Bishops on October 19, 1972. He retired on September 4, 2008. His complete biography is available online. To mark the occasion, Archpriest Timothy Hojnicki, Rector of Holy Apostles Mission, Mechanicsburg, PA, wrote the following reflection, accompanied by photos from Metropolitan Herman’s consecration in Wilkes-Barre, PA’s historic Holy Resurrection Cathedral on February 10, 1973. We congratulate Metropolitan Herman on this occasion and ask God to continue to grant him strength and good health for many years to come.
Recently, I was asked to give a short reflection on the ministry of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, on the 45th Anniversary of his Episcopal Consecration. It is not an easy task, because I could write volumes about the many, many ways His Beatitude has affected my life in a positive way. I will try to offer just a few.
His Beatitude has been watching over me my entire life. The day I was baptized in Wilmington, Delaware in July of 1980, His Beatitude, then Bishop Herman, was present. He was there for the Lesser Blessing of the parish’s new building. Over the years I had the blessing of being guided and formed in my vocation through his ministry. As a kid I can’t tell you how many letters I wrote to him, with questions that seemed important to me at the time, but looking back must have seemed like a pesky kid interrupting a busy schedule. Nonetheless, His Beatitude always responded, and I still have those letters.
Growing up, I remember the excitement of waiting for him to arrive to the area Lenten Mission Vespers, and remember being in awe as the subdeacons vested him in the center of the Church. I remember at Summer Camp how he would come to the cookouts, and lead the groups on hikes. When I was old enough, I began to serve in the altar, and eventually as his subdeacon for a time. In seminary, I was blessed to travel with him on occasion, and really learned how to serve through his watchful eye, and direct corrections.
As I grew older, there were many times I came to him with various problems and concerns. He always responded with patience and love, even when I needed correction. But those corrections always came with a smile. I remember in particular a difficult situation that took place in Seminary. When I went to talk to him about it, I expected to have the riot act read to me. Instead, he patiently listened to me, and then simply asked what I learned from the event, and how I would do it differently the next time. He gave a gentle correction, offered me a Pepsi, and sent me on my way. This still serves as an example to me as a pastor of how to minister to those who come to me.
I was ordained to the priesthood in January of 2005, in the same church we first met, at my baptism some twenty-five years earlier. I remember being terrified the first week of serving when he came into the altar during an early morning daily Liturgy at the monastery, and simply said, “Pretend I’m not here.” After the service, after I received his blessing, he told me to be at his office that afternoon. “What did I forget to do? Did I mess up?” I thought. Actually, he assigned me to my first parish that afternoon, only a week after being ordained. Later that spring, he gave me one of my greatest gifts, assigning me to my beloved parish which I have been in ever since.
It is not an exaggeration to say that my life and vocation were fostered and affected in a great way through the loving care and ministry of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman. Now in retirement, I pray for him, and visit him any time I come to Saint Tikhon’s. On this the 45th Anniversary of his consecration to episcopal service, I join the many who sing “Axios” to this important man, who had and continues to have such a great influence and impact on my life. May the Lord remember him and his service to the Church in His Heavenly Kingdom. Eis polla eti despota!