Originally Published: 11/17/2012
Wyomissing graduate elected leader of Orthodox Church in America
By Carol Balinski
A Wyomissing High School graduate was elected leader of the Orthodox
Church in America during a meeting Tuesday of more than 600 clergy
members and delegates in Ohio.
Metropolitan Tikhon, born Marc R. Mollard, replaces Metropolitan Jonah,
who submitted his resignation in July.
Metropolitan Tikhon, 46, formerly served as archbishop of Philadelphia
and Eastern Pennsylvania.
"I pray I can fulfill my responsibilities with the help of the bishops,
clergy and the faithful," said Metropolitan Tikhon in a telephone
The Rev. John Onofrey, pastor of St. Herman of Alaska Church in
Shillington, was among the priests who cast votes Tuesday during the
17th All-American Council of the OCA at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in
"It's a new chapter" for the Orthodox church, said Onofrey, who knows
Metropolitan Tikhon through his visits to the church in Shillington and
considers him an excellent person.
However, Onofrey said he was surprised by the outcome because another
candidate, Bishop Michael of New York and New Jersey, received more
votes in the second round of voting. In the second round, Bishop Michael
received 355 votes and Archbishop Tikhon got 317. Onofrey said he cast
one vote for Bishop Michael and one vote for Archbishop Tikhon in the
two rounds of voting.
But, since a two-thirds vote is required and neither candidate received
that, a group of bishops who are member of the Holy Synod retired behind
the altar and elected Metropolitan Tikhon.
When asked why he thinks Metropolitan Tikhon was chosen, Onofrey
speculated it was because he is a very spiritual man.
"He's well-liked," Onofrey said.
The OCA has been in a state of transition since the July resignation of
Metropolitan Jonah, who had been elected in 2008 under a banner of
reform after his predecessor, Archbishop Herman, retired amid
allegations that leaders of the denomination used money from church
coffers to cover personal expenses.
In July, Metropolitan Jonah said he was leaving the post in response to
the unanimous request of the bishops.
Metropolitan Tikhon said he hopes his election helps put an end to
uncertainty in the church.
"My prayer is that we will come smoothly out of this transition and come
together for the work of the church," he said Friday.
The metropolitan will move from his home near St. Tikhon's Seminary in
South Caanan, Wayne County, to Long Island, N.Y., where the OCA has its
The OCA has approximately 700 parishes, communities and monasteries
throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Estimates vary, but there are
about 84,900 members in the U.S., according to the Standing Conference
of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas.
On Jan. 27, there will be a formal enthronement for the new metropolitan
at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Many ecumenical guests and
dignitaries will be invited.
Among the guests will be the Rev. Elizabeth Mollard of Elizabethtown,
Lancaster County, a retired Episcopal priest and the mother of
Mollard was not present at the meeting on Tuesday and had no idea her
son would be elected.
"We're very proud of our son," she said Friday. "We know it's a big
She last saw her son in August, when he was in the area while visiting
some OCA congregations in the Harrisburg area.
She expressed concern about the major changes he will undergo in a
position of such responsibility, but said she is hopeful it will be a
good experience for him.
"He has wonderful pastoral skills," she said of her son.
When asked if his friends from Wyomissing High School's Class of 1984
would have considered him a spiritual person, Metropolitan Tikhon said
they probably did not have that impression.
"I was more of a questioner," he said, "I was not overtly religious,
although I did go to church regularly."
Contact Carol Balinski: 610-371-5007 or cbalinski@...