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Wyomissing graduate elected leader of Orthodox Church in America

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=428690 Originally Published: 11/17/2012 Wyomissing graduate elected leader of Orthodox Church in America By Carol
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 19, 2012

      Originally Published: 11/17/2012

      Wyomissing graduate elected leader of Orthodox Church in America
      By Carol Balinski
      Religion Editor

      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
      interview Friday.

      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
      Parma, Ohio.

      "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
      Metropolitan Tikhon.

      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@....
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