13674In memory of Archbishop Benjamin
- Jul 1, 2010Archbishop Benjamin was born in Olyphant, Pennsylvania on January 11, 1887, the son of Gregory and Helen Basalyga. He was baptized with the name Basil.
After completing theological studies in the Russian Orthodox Seminary in Minneapolis, MN he was appointed an instructor for the school's preparatory class.
Moving to St. Tikhon's Monastery in South Canaan, PA, he was tonsured a monk on March 29, 1911 and, the following month, ordained to monastic priesthood, eventually serving as a parish administrator in Chicago, IL; Hartshorne, OK; Pueblo, CO; Philadelphia, PA; Alpha, NJ; New York City, NY; Wilmington DE, and Berlin, NH. He was also instrumental in the organization of new parishes in Akron, OH; Spring Valley, NY, and Bellaire, OH.
Consecrated to the episcopate on September 9, 1933 as Ruling Hierarch of the then Pittsburgh and West Virginia Diocese, he was the official delegate of the North American Church to the 1938 All-Russian Orthodox Council in Sremski Karlovci, Vojvodia, in then Jugoslavia, where he convinced the Serbian Patriarchate to accept American Orthodox students into its theological schools. An active member of the Pittsburgh chapter of CARE, founded in 1945 as the Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe, Bishop Benjamin left for Japan in the early part of 1946 in order to assume - through the intercession and recommendation of General Douglas MacArthur - the office of Head of the Japanese Orthodox Church.
Elevated to the rank of Archbishop at the All-American Council of 1950, he returned from Japan, to the Pittsburgh Diocese, in 1952 in order to witness, and to guide, the post-war expansion of all the parish communities under his protection. It was while attending the All-American Council in New York City that Archbishop Benjamin died on November 15, 1963. His relics are buried in the cemetery of Saint Tikhon's Monastery, South Canaan.
The Archbishop Benjamin Scholarship Fund was established in the year 1964 in memory of the then recently deceased Ruling Hierarch of the Pittsburgh Diocese of the then Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of North America, today's Orthodox Church in America.
A promotional leaflet for the Scholarship Fund included the following word of encouragement:
"Archbishop Benjamin gave of himself to his last breath. He worked for an American Orthodoxy from the early days of his Priesthood. He endeavored to weld the Russian spirituality into an American Orthodox society. He was keenly interested and concerned for the training of candidates for the Holy Priesthood who would follow the footsteps of our Lord Jesus and bring men's souls unto Him through the Holy Orthodox Church."