Bishop Jonah of Fort Worth elected Metropolitan of All America and Canada

Date Published: 11/17/2008
Publication: Interfax

Washington/Brussels, November 13, Interfax – Bishop Jonah of Fort Worth was elected Archbishop of Washington and New York and Metropolitan of All America and Canada at the 15th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America, the official Website of this Church reports.

James Paffhausen, Bishop Jonah to be, was born in Chicago, IL, into a Protestant family. He was received into the Orthodox Church in 1978 at Our Lady of Kazan Moscow Patriarchal Church, San Diego, while a student at the University of California, San Diego.

In 1988, he graduated from St. Vladimir’s Seminary. In early 1990s he worked at the Publishing Department of the Moscow Patriarchate, and had an exposure to monastic life during his stay in Valaam Monastery. The spiritual father of the monastery’s abbot, the Elder Kirill at Trinity St.Sergius Laura, blessed James to become a monk, and in 1995, after ordaining to the diaconate and priesthood, he was tonsured to monastic rank at St. Tikhon’s Monastery, South Canaan, PA, having received the name Jonah. Later, he established a monastery under the patronage of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco.

In the spring of 2008, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America elevated Fr. Jonah to the rank of Archimandrite and he was given the obedience to leave the monastery and take on the responsibilities of auxiliary bishop and chancellor for the Diocese of the South. Metropolitan Jonah will be installed by the OCA’s Holy Synod of Bishops at St. Nicholas Cathedral, Washington, DC, on December 28, 2008.

Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria, a representative of the Moscow Patriarchate in European organizations, who had refused the offer of some OCA’s priests to be named a candidate at the All-American Council, referred to the election of Bishop Jonah as “a remarkable event in the life of the Orthodox Church in America,” and noted that Metropolitan “has been elected by the declaration of will of the clergy and believers who treat him as a person able to lead the Church out of its current crisis state.”

“Indeed, vox populi vox Dei! The Orthodox Church in America now more than ever needs a young and proactive Primate who is able to restore the Church’s authority with the believers. It could be hard to find the better candidate to this position,” Bishop Hilarion said Thursday to an Interfax-Religion correspondent.

According to him, this event opens a new page in the history of OCA which received autocephaly from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1970. Bishop Hilarion stated that this time the newly-elected Metropolitan is “the youngest by ordination hierarch”, on the one hand, but on the other hand, “he is not a newcomer in the church service”, he is a priest who managed to turn an orthodox monastery in California into “a large center of monastic life.”