Father Oleksa reinstated, elected to national board

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Date Published: 11/21/2008

Archpriest Michael J. Oleksa was elected by the Diocesan Assembly meeting at St. Innocent Cathedral to represent the Alaskan diocese on the national executive board of the Orthodox Church in America, according to a press release from the Alaska diocese.

Oleksa was also appointed acting chancellor of the Diocese of Alaska by the administrator of the Alaskan diocese, Bishop Benjamin.

Reversing the firing of Oleksa from his faculty position at St. Herman’s Seminary in Kodiak, the bishop also reappointed him to that post. Oleksa will resume teaching his course on Alaska church history in the spring.

On Nov. 12, the All American Council, meeting in Pittsburgh, Pa., comprised of clergy and lay delegates from hundreds of parishes across the United States and Canada, elected Bishop Jonah of Fort Worth, Texas, as the archbishop of New York and Washington, metropolitan of all America in Canada,” replacing Metropolitan Herman who retired in September.

The election of Bishop Jonah came as a surprise to most, since he had only been consecrated as a vicar bishop eight days before. His election represents a complete turnaround from the leadership style of the church’s national administration, which gained statewide attention earlier in 2008, when the Alaskan clergy rebelled against what was termed the “unkind” and “tyrannical” management style of Bishop Nikolai Soraich. Soraich was forced into early retirement by the Synod of Bishops in April.

The Alaskan delegation to the Pittsburgh council received a moving and prolonged standing ovation for their stance, demanding reform in the Alaskan diocese.