Tuesday, May 13. 2008
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I'm sure Alaska breathes a sigh of relief! Well deserved! I am so glad their nightmare is ended. I really, really, really want to know the full story. Given Nikolai's track record of stubborness, one can only imagine that the info collected by the three OCA reps (including Fr. Alex) must be big to get him to quietly, quickly retire without the promised fight. Interesting too that on the way out, he still tried one last ditch effort to protect Isidore. There is definately a story here.
#1 the full story on 2008-05-13 15:57
Bishop Nikolai was handpicked by FRK. This is just another in the dominos of deceit. Isn't it curious that in all the revelations of wrongdoing, not one of the perpetrators has taken even the slightest inkling of responsibility. And yet, their bluster has been loud and resolute, to a man.
FRK had dirt on all his minions. He has threatened to expose it if any talk. So far, none have, save Deacon Eric. The threat of exposure appears to be a powerful lever of control, even from his position as a deposed Chancellor.
I hope we learn our lessons. Blindly going through the liturgical motions while Syosset robbed the needy, widows and orphans was not a good thing. Sitting on synods, councils and commissions and remaining pietistically silent and "humble" is neither pietistic nor humble; it is ignorant, gullible and stupid. This kind of stewardship met a terrible fate with our Lord. Are the Orthodox in America worthy of the heritage given them? So far it appears the answer is no. So far it appears as if they intend to squander their inheritance like the Prodigal Son. What good is all this wonderful theology if we are not going to LIVE IT? The hypocrisy of this situation is palpable.
#2 Anon. on 2008-05-13 16:48
Well, I don't see any comments posted yet, so I'll take a stab at being the first - or at least among the first, to say publicly,
#3 Sdn Mark Harrison on 2008-05-13 17:37
Christ Is Risen! Indeed He Is Risen!
My deepest heartfelt gratitude to the Synod for their correct and right action regarding the Diocese of Alaska....
While it has taken far too long, the problem is begining to be dealt with... that is what is important today.
There are many smaller details that remain to be cleared up and removed from our Diocese - many of which I am hopeful will be dealt with very soon.
For now... I am very positive in my enlightened attitude and hopeful for a future filled with hope.
#4 Ted Panamarioff - Kodiak Alaska on 2008-05-13 17:42
No Fan of Nikolai here but how does one get retired when one does not ask for retirement and when one is not present at the meeting that retires you???
Sounds like another canonical challenge which the Holy Synod will lose and look even more stupid as a group. What type of group think is going on in those little minds?
Do they think that retiring him is going to make him go away? I don't think so. Nikolai is not the type of person that fades away.
And while all this is happening the Romanian Episcopate is going to play Twister with the OCA and the Romanian Patriarchate and try and be in both places at the same time. In the OCA but praying for the Patriarch of Romania? What complete chaos and all the while Herman remains?
God help us. I am beginning to think that Dr Meyendorff was right, retire all of them and see who survives.
#5 Anonymous on 2008-05-13 17:42
alas, we finally were able to get rid of a bishop because he was strict. He followed the church practices, he brought back what was right. Whats next? we keep a bishop that breaks the rules, but do nothing about it because he is nice??? i mean come on. the devil can be nice, any demon can be nice as long as it makes people fall into deception and further on to sin. i know alot of people that are law biting, and rule breaking that make others think that they are polite. so this must be the message that we want to send, "its ok if you do not follow the laws, just as long as you are well mannered, compliment others, and dont look at us like you are mad."
#6 Anonymous on 2008-05-13 19:35
My first reaction, was, and is, to cry out, "Yeah!" upon hearing that Bishop Nikolai is no longer ruling bishop of Alaska. However, i have to qualify this. I have long said that no death should ever be a cause for joy - even the death of Adolf Hitler or Ted Bundy. As Orthodox, no matter how justly a person might have been killed, we must always lament that it came to that, and that human life was lost. I think, the same can be said here. I am happy that the Diocese of Alaska is free of Bishop Nikolai, and healing can begin. But, I think I can honestly say that I am not really "happy" that it came to this.
What has played out before our eyes has been a tragedy for all involved, and as happy as I am to see Alaska free of the threat of having that tragedy go on, I can't be happy to see Bishop Nikolai's demise. Whatever forces, internal or external, led to him thinking that his "leadership style" was one appropriate to an Orthodox bishop, it is truly sad that they were never checked - for his own sake, and for the sake of the Diocese.I hope we can all pray for him, for his spiritual peace, as well as for the healing of the Diocese of Alaska.
#7 Sdn Mark Harrison on 2008-05-13 19:43
i totally agree with you at the begining of your comment. How does one get retired when not asked for it to happen? kinda like being on a "mandatory" leave of absence. what leave of absence is "MANDATORY" other than suspension or depostion? it is really just a fancy term for that anyway. so what next? tell the next bishop that if he does not please the people that he will also be RETIRED or put on a "MANDATORY" leave of absence, or in fact have it ordered that he would not be commemorated or prayed for in a service (while still a bishop and in the diocese) if he is not nice?
#8 Anonymous on 2008-05-13 19:52
this guy here sounds like one of the three(BN, Fr. Isa, or the monk P.), really trying to turn the story around...
#9 another anonymous on 2008-05-13 21:18
+NIKOLAI left the diocese voluntarily. He decided it would be impossible to lead a diocese that doesn't want him.
#10 Anonymous on 2008-05-13 22:22
Pr 11:22 As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout....
If such virtue as you allude to could exist in conjunction with ill-manner and meanness, it would be as inaccessible to the faithful as Holy Mysteries presented on a spoon known to be infected with giardia. Sometimes the outside does matter. St. Paul implores us to "stir one another to good works," and to let our "conversation be seasoned with salt." A bishop, above all, is responsible not just for the purity of the sacraments, but to insure that the avenue of their administration and reception is kept open. If there is something so distracting about a bishop's behavior that we find people who would otherwise receive the teaching of the Church turning away or abstaining, that's a problem. Your posting implies that you are sure that these people are insincere in their approach to the Church. You imply that they are looking for an excuse to avoid its demands. In any case, at least half of a bishop's work ought to be in the direction of insuring that such an excuse has no grounds. Let any offense be offense over the Gospel as it really is, and not on account of the rudeness of those who present it.
A bishop is required not merely to be "right," but "above reproach"--and this, from the earliest canons we have regarding the office of bishop.
#11 Fr. Isaac Skidmore on 2008-05-13 22:55
You forget one thing, the biggest and the best of the deceivers is still wearing the white hat. He has not followed any rules, canons, statutes unless it satisfies the outcome that he dictates. He has not even shown any signs of christian kindness. ..... Through all of the RSK has show integrity. He has not gone into the gutter like so many. God will be the only judge, unless this circus moves to a court room.
#12 MP on 2008-05-14 02:55
I don't understand the Holy Synod's decision. The OCA Statute states that "The office of Diocesan Bishop shall be declared vacant by the Holy Synod in the event of death, voluntary retirement, medically certified incapacity, transfer, or deposition by due canonical process". Bishop Nikolai has not died, not voluntarily retired, not become medically incapacitated, not been transferred, and has not been deposed by due canonical process. As an organisation the OCA seems to have a fundamental inability to make reasoned decisions.
#13 Anonymous on 2008-05-14 03:51
I must agree with "MP". While I am pleased that our brothers and sisters in Alaska have been freed from the despotic rule of +Nikolai, all of us in the OCA are still under a ruling Metropolitan in whom many of us have absolutely no trust. And now this man has once again succeeded in deflecting attention from himself while ousting a Bishop who might have "outed" him--and while garnering even more power and authority within the OCA for himself. Doesn't anybody else find this rather disturbing, given the circumstances?
I, for one, will not feel any great sense of relief or hope for the future of the OCA until +Herman announces his own retirement, and until the truth about the allegations of fiscal and even sexual improprieties at the center of this scandal is made known to the OCA at large.
We all know that more of our Bishops need to go if there is to be any "resurrection" for the OCA. And this must happen well before the AAC for that gathering to be anything more than a colossal waste of time, energy, and scarce financial resources.
I hope that parishes and individual members of the OCA will keep the pressure on our Metropolitan to do the right thing--to release the full report, to retire, and to encourage others within the Synod to do likewise.
#14 Cathryn M. Tatusko on 2008-05-14 05:16
It's not they they "have a fundamental inability to make reasoned decisions," but rather that the Holy Synod has a fundamental inability to make difficult decisions with conviction. Rather than pursue canonical discipline against Bp Nikolai, they've chosen this strange concept of "forced retirement". Rather than deal forthrightly with problems in the OCA, they fecklessly choose accommodation, carefully ducking the real issues.
Being a leader doesn't mean everyone loves you all the time. Sometimes, to use Colin Powell's phrase, it means p*ssing people off.
#15 BB on 2008-05-14 05:18
"+NIKOLAI left the diocese voluntarily. He decided it would be impossible to lead a diocese that doesn't want him."
RIGHT...and Alaska is all Eskimos living in igloos. Look closely at + Nicolai and you'll notice all the electric cattle prod marks of the faithful showing him the way out!
#16 Anonymous on 2008-05-14 05:24
From what I understand, this is DEFINITELY not the first time the OCA SOB has retired a bishop. In fact, if you dig deeper and talk to some of Syosset's "in crowd", they'll tell you that MANY bishops who "voluntarily retired" did anything but go voluntarily. They were most often given an ultimatum: "Retire now or we'll get rid of you somehow, someway." How do canons, statues and the like play into this? You got me... .....
#17 Anonymous on 2008-05-14 05:57
Lest any of us forget what it means:
"It means that when you are being forcibly taken to a dungeon, when you have a large knife pointed at your back, when you are trying to be brave, you are able, still, to think for a moment of the person who is holding that knife."
- from the Tale of Despereaux
#18 Bautista Cabrera on 2008-05-14 06:27
"alas, we finally were able to get rid of a bishop because he was strict. He followed the church practices, he brought back what was right..."
And herein is the problem we face in American Orthodoxy: either to rest in the bosom of "canon law," the Typicon or the glory days of ol' Mother Russia, or by God's grace to strive to be Christ-like and compassionate. It's curious to see the words that are missing in the letter above and in all the defenders of the status quo: repentance, humility, mercy and amendment of life.
Why is it that we continue to confuse coldness with reverence in our worship? Why do we settle for despotic clericalism and relinquish the priestly ministry of all the baptized? Why when the canons are used as a club do we call it a loving act used to preserve "good order"? Why, in the name of "Church tradition," do we use our hats, crosses, long robes and beards as a cover for immorality? For a pretense of righteousness we find ourselves becoming more and more children of hell each day.
On a final note, it would be refreshing if our bishops--and all of us for that matter--would worry more about keeping the commandments of God than fussing over "Church law." The end of our life is Christ. When we make the means to Him the end we will soon find ourselves becoming idolaters.
Well, let's put it this way. I don't think Alaska should get a Bishop right away, because the bashers will bash him out again, just like Bishop Nikolai. And priests should know that too, that the ones tehy have, they should keep for a while. No need to destroy another persons Spirituality. I had enough and this should be enough of Bishop Nikolai being talked about. What ever sins the Bishop did, who ever talks about it, they end up judging him.
Christ Is Risen!
#20 Anonymous on 2008-05-14 08:23
As I just said, +NIKOLAI stepped down voluntarily. It was his choice, not by the meeting "in Syosset that ultimately decided his fate." I wish the author of this site would get his facts straight. This isn't the first time the facts are wrong.
#21 Anonymous on 2008-05-14 08:29
Amen!! Nikolai did what he was commissioned to do in Alaska, mainly building up the church and restoring it: buildings and cash flow! Now, it is time for another to use their talents to lead after 7 years of hard work by Alaska's bishop. Not an easy task for anyone. Best wishes for the Alaskan Orthodox Bishop!
#22 Challenges of Alaska on 2008-05-14 09:11
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
I am not going to gloat over the loss of Bishop Nicolai. I pray to God for Mercy for him, Isidore and all of us. We up here in Alaska are going through a lot of pain right now. A lot of us still don't know why we lost Bishop Innocent 7 years ago, because we thought he was doing a good job. But hwat was done, was done.
I pray for everyone Peace and that our church will gain from this lesson and dig itself out of ashes of dispair that has engulf our Diocese.
#23 Alexie on 2008-05-14 09:53
I pray that you are being ironic. If "building up the Church and restoring it" is really about "buildings and cash flow", then making sure to catch the pregame show on NFL game days is a better and less soul-damaging use of my time than fiddling around in a pretty building. Tell me, please, that sarcasm was enabled when you posted your comment.
#24 Scott Walker on 2008-05-14 10:19
Right. Just like Socrates chugged the hemlock voluntarily. Could I maybe interest you in a great Nigerian investment opportunity?
#25 Scott Walker on 2008-05-14 10:22
I do agree with you in as much as Herman and others should retire, resign or get another career. However, we both know that Herman will never let go. He is addicted to power and control. The best we could pray for is that some other jurisdiction open the gate and accept some of our parishes who are no longer comfortable in the OCA. With that, hopefully some of the faithful will return to their parishes. IF NOT, you will see a rapid decline in contributing membership and then what? At some point, the Canadians, Alaskans, Bulgarians, Albanians and Romanians should beginn to pull the full load - $105. annually, just like the rest of us. To many compromises have compromised real Christian values in the OCA.
#26 MP on 2008-05-14 11:17
Well, his choice in the sense [presumably] that he was told what would be revealed and what would be done if he chose not to retire, and he chose retiring as the better alternative.
You appear to be trying to frame his "choice" as a self-directed, self-sacrificing, magnaminous act -- sorry it just doesn't reconcile successfully with the known facts.
Anyway, it does demonstate that when pushed to the wall the Synod of Bishops can approximate a functioning organization -- perhaps there's hope that they can learn from this experience and find the courage and vision to press the one among their midst who must go if we are really to embark in a positive, healing direction to 'retire' also.
#27 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-05-14 13:30
Is Bishop Nikolai going to get a $100,000./year pension?
#28 Eugenie Osmun on 2008-05-14 13:59
Alexie, As one (not the only one) who was de facto excommunicated by +Innocent without ever being given a reason, having watched seminarians being pitted brother against brother by +Innocent, and seeing the St. Herman's Seminary staff decimated, trust me, there was cause for his removal. The man is dead, I do not wish to bash him, just want to set the record straight. There were indeed significant problems including others I did not list.
#29 K. Carlsen on 2008-05-14 14:35
NOT sarcasm at all! You need cash to pay for the education of 20 more clergy's education to serve rural Alaska's families who are often in great need in many different areas, physical and spiritual in the brutal Arctic winters!!! Travel and food costs are astronomical. Bishop Nikolai restored the building of St. Herman's Seminary, raised money for a quality faculty and made sure the 7 years of the seminary operation were paid for by what he raised and not by student's fees (they attended free of charge!!)
#30 Anonymous on 2008-05-14 17:01
I am hoping and praying that the situation in Alaska will become more stable; more peaceful; more joyful; more fruitful.
I had lived in Alaska and taught at St. Herman's Seminary the academic year of 1992-93. At least for that year, we had lost many students by the end of the academic year. I think by Christmas we started seeing our first "casualties" of students not returning that January. By May, it was a disaster. Several students left on a chartered plane so that they could go home, get back on their fishing boats, and make a living and return to the way of life they were used to (not book learning).
A few years back I worked in Parker, AZ (south of Lake Havasu, AZ where there is a small OCA mission, St. Peter the Aleut) as a school psychologist. Parker USD was located on the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) reservation.
I saw quite "a bit" there, probably more than I cared to. I really got a taste of poverty and transiency and drug and substance abuse all in one package, mostly suffered by the Native American Indian.
I also saw , first hand, how Native American children, at least in Arizona, suffer from the effects of a history of alcohol and alcoholism in their extended families.
I had five "cutters," all Native American teenaged girls, and all had a history of alcohol in their families. I tried to reach out to each and every one of them and get them the professional counseling they needed. The CRIT's Behavioral Health Department was overwhelmed and there was also high turnover of workers. I was very frustrated in trying to get their needs met.
Parker gave me many insights into what could be happening in Alaska. I thought back on how so many of the St. Herman students just got up and left that May (at the literal cries of Bishop Gregory) and got a charter plane to go fishing!
So why not bring the seminary to them? Perhaps there can be a more aggressive, proactive plan to have satellite seminaries or learning centers in Alaska, such as in the Kuskokwim Deanery, etc. Accomodate this way of life that is so highly ingrained in them to make their living.
Perhaps a "lower 48" OCA church may "adopt" one of the Alaskan churches and help nurture the church family there, if not also assist in the parish's education by buying appropriate educational materials, icons, church supplies, and so on.
Perhaps St. Herman's Seminary may become the "next step" or "next phase" after one or two years in the satellite learning center. Then the students may stick it out better.
Perhaps this would allow a more stable situation at St. Herman's with an "adoption" concept in place. An OCA Church could "adopt" a student, if not its hometown Alaskan parish.
Perhaps the school year seasonal time frame could be studied so that students could leave during high fishing season in the month of May and then return.
I believe there are many possiblities to creat satellite campuses or learning centers in Alaska. There may be priests in the "lower 48" who may even be able to teach there a semester or an academic year at the learning center or even Seminary.
These are only some ideas. We had been on the verge of accreditation that 1992-93 school year at St. Herman's and it didn't happen. So many things have not materialized at St. Herman's. Perhaps our love and concern that many of us have recently shown Alaska may be expressed in a more tangible way, of a "lower 48" church adopting an Alaskan church. Cultural exchanges, ongoing education, visits, and so on could take place.
I always try to think out of the box. Our little OCA is more than a box; it is God's call to the Kingdom.
#31 Patty Schellbach on 2008-05-14 17:38
MP, the Canadians are prohibited by their federal law from sending money down to Syosset (outside the country, actually). It's been mentioned here many times. The Canadians still have assessments, but it's kept aside for when the Metropolitan visits Canada. It was used for the Toronto AAC, for example.
#32 Michele Hagerman on 2008-05-14 20:27
No. He will get $200,000 a year, but in Confederate dollars!!!!!!
I mean, really, where do you people get this stuff from, $100,000 pension! He won't get any pension from the OCA except what he is entitled to based on paying into the OCA Penson fund and he can't get that until the NORMAL retirement age of 65.
And lest one forgets, no bishop of the OCA gets any stipend any longer even retired bishops since that was axed by greedy Herman so there would be more money to pay for the sham SIC investigation and all the lawyers who now have to defend the OCA because of the stupidity of Herman and the Synod.
And lest we forget all the settlements the OCA will have to pay..... they will be lucky if there is $100.000 left in the OCA when this is all said and done.
(Editor's note: The writer is incorrect. The Bishops recently received their back stipends that were temporarily halted in a lump sum; and now receive their stipends as usual. )
#33 Anonymous on 2008-05-14 20:39
Well said, friend.
#34 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-05-14 22:19
I appreciate Ms. Schellbach's idea of bringing the seminary to the rural Alaska areas so that locals can practice the rural lifeways.
There is the possibility of creating a cohort of seminary students who can meet quarterly with St Hermans Seminary faculty at a central location or regional location (Bethel)? i.e. for the Kuskokwim and Yukon Deaneries, if we ask for it. Such an inititiative to bring the Seminary to students meeting in the Anchorage Cathedral was promulgated by our retired Bishop +NIKOLAI and it has merit. It works for those who have careers and families but for various reasons cannot or will not move to Kodiak.
Quyana, Thank you.
#35 George on 2008-05-15 03:27
Ok, so he (you?) raised some cash and fixed some buildings to pay for 20 clergy. And how many faithful did he destroy in the meantime?
#36 Anonymous on 2008-05-15 06:27
Patty that is a great idea. Distance learning (via the internet) is done at so many colleges, and community colleges across the lower 48. I'm sure there are Orthodox laymen and women as well as clergy who are trained in Orthodox theology and Orthodox christian education (and who have graduate degrees) who could teach these classes without leaving their homes. Of course, St. Herman's would have to fund this type of education and perhaps there are community colleges in Alaska who would be willing to offer these classes through their campuses/on-line. This is possible because it is happening currently in the field of education.
#37 cshinn on 2008-05-15 08:19
I for one are on the same page that your reading.
I do find it very saddening that we in the USA can not rid of the cancer and I was truely hoping and praying that after Pascha we would of at least heard from our clergy and bishops to dispose of many on the good old boys club registry.
But I'm afraid of my deep inner thoughts, which is; the money that has not been accounted for is still at large being handed over in large envelopes to those who are still players in this game of the OCA.
Again, only those will be removed in office once a Federal Investigation is under way, and time is of the essence at this point, stall tactics and sorry stories won't buy it for me anymore. I just don't know how so many can hold on, I for one have recognized that if I sign my name on a piece of paper that states yours in christ! I surely am using his name as a gift of honor, and glory to my Savior. Again, thank you for all that you have done and are continueing to do for the sake of the OCA parish that your honoring.
Yours in Christ, Marjorie
#38 Anonymous on 2008-05-15 08:33
Words fail me. How did the Apostles ever manage without dynamic fund raising efforts? I am reasonably familiar with the New Testament, and I can find no mention at all of buildings and cash flow. Odd that neither St. Paul, nor St. Peter, nor any of the Evangelists thought it necessary to mention buildings and cash flow. The Renaissance Popes, however, were aware of this shortcoming in the Scriptures, and made sure that buildings and cash flow became the first priority.
#39 Scott Walker on 2008-05-15 09:26
I am one of them too. You don't have to know my name or whatever, God knows who I am, but it IS very true that Alaska doesn't need it's own Bishop right now. Same thing will happen again... they will chew him up and throw him out of Alaska. We don't want see that happen again. Are we Christians??? The priests should know what goes around in Alaska, they shouldn't ask for another Bishop. It is really heartbreaking to see that. Don't know how to explain that to our young children.
#40 Anonymous on 2008-05-15 11:18
One down and eight more regulars to go. More diocese need to come forward. Is the allegations of verbal and physical abuse by +BN any different than a non-Orthodox Christian living in the former residence of the late Archbishop Peter in NY? Any different from missing receipts at St. Tikhon's Seminary & Monastery? And, the list goes on.
"Judge not, and ye shall not be judged," said Jesus.
How +MH can remove +BN and not judge himself both as a Metropolitan and Bishop of New York is beyond me? How the Synod can judge him when each individual on average makes $100,000US. Had the Synod voted years ago for a voluntary 50% cut, we'd have little debt left.
And, what of the $6 million lawsuit newly instituted?
Priests, like the faithful, need guidance. I visited parishes this past Great Lent and observed some who didn't know how to serve the Pre-Sanctified liturgy! Holy Good Friday services! Honest to goodness! For me personally, its disenchanting and very sad to see this. It lessens my faith, and makes me not want to give of myself "blindly" through activism and gift giving. This past year, I did it elsewhere, as I must admit I did some of my praying.
The bishops really need a clue. I would love for one of them to respond to our blog. Just one - to say why they need $100,000 US a year, and will donate their own money to fix the deficit situation. I would also love to know from the Metropolitan why the New York Diocesan Center is occupied by a non-Orthodox woman who took care of the late AB Peter who pays $0 rent.
"Judge Not..." +BN has done nothing on a scale that the others have not collectively done themselves. As one with advanced degrees and professional success, it seems incredibly hypocritical.
#41 Anonymous on 2008-05-15 12:59
I really hope you're joking about the $100,000/year pension. It's bad enough that -Nikolai got to retire without being held accountable for anything he did and the disaster he caused in Alaska. It's a whole other level of insanity for the OCA to be paying him anything but a nominal pension.
Thanks Patty for reframing this conversation into one of a restoration mission.
Its high time we refocus and retool. It would be fitting that Alaska be the precursor to the restoration of the whole OCA.
By getting out of our collective boxes, reaching out to our needy brothers and sisters we could begin to out grow our problems and out live our detractors.
This is the season for optimism.
Christ is Risen - Indeed!
#43 tim q on 2008-05-15 15:37
The Alaskan local leadership should act with switftly and with resolve to get a complete record and understanding of the land, building and money situation they have.
... And also to what ongoing financial obligations they find themselves recently obliged.
#44 Harry Coin on 2008-05-16 05:28
Thank you Patty for your insite. Yes, as you have mentioned in your memories of Kodiak and Arizona, there are alot of challenges in Alaska. The church does provide a relief to the challenges and that is why the evil one so strongly desires to destroy our church up here. We always see a lot of missionaries come and go, because they can't find that special gift of God's love like the Orthodox church.
Hate and accusations, gloating and continue strife will not heal the injury that has been done up here. Your voice of "lower 48" parishes opening up is a good first step. The words Love and forgive comes to me as the the best step forward in what has happened. Move on and pray for all of us to find the strength to continue on our journey as Orthodox Christians and to carry the cross as all the Alaskan Saints before us.
#45 Alexie on 2008-05-16 06:31
Faithful destroyed?!! And, the apostles never experienced college debt either! It's the 21st century! Education does matter. Watch the new DVD out called the "Great Debaters" starring and directed by Denzel Washinton and produced by Oprah! True story!
#46 Anonymous on 2008-05-16 08:26
I feel that millions will continue to be spent in order to preserve Herman. He has been in control of all of the outcomes for the past twenty plus years. He spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of church money to protect HIMSELF - NOT THE FAITHFUL. The SIC and Bishop Benjamin will continue to protect him because they have also protected Theodosius. Notice he is no longer ill, no longer mentioned and living the good life collecting his pensions.
Bishop Nikolai was gracefully retired. PERIOD!
The Synod of Bishops of the OCA looks out only for themselves. Today everyone is educated is very well knows that in any organization one person cannot be responsible for all of the ills of the past.
But just remember to continue to pay and obey.
#47 MP on 2008-05-16 09:08
There should be a qualification here. Under Fr. Chad Hatfield's leadership, St. Herman Seminary was rejuvenated inside and out, often with Bishop Nikolai fighting it tooth and nail.
#48 somewhere over the rainbow on 2008-05-16 09:41
Patty, Bear in mind it has been a very long time since you've been in Alaska. Since then, SHS seem to have more focused students. They may not particularly want to stay in the Bush, either for seminary or as clergy. Coming to a small town like Kodiak broadens their horizons, yet isn't overwhelming the way Anchorage can be. That said, SHS really needs to be on the OCA's front burner; they cannot continue without a dean or enough staff. The situation is taking a toll on the students. The loss of Fr. Chad Hatfield is greatly apparent.
#49 K. Carlsen on 2008-05-16 11:03
I agree. In my parish, saints days and lesser holy days are "rarely" served anymore. A once very dedicated priest (who I will not name) has become complacent and to a certain extent inattentive to "the little things" - concerning himself with Sundays and coffee hour gossip almost exclusively. His response "Why should I care?" Can you imagine my faith this past Great Lent? Honestly - he said that to me.
But, if he doesn't, who will? I personally loved those services, as I did going more than once / twice to church on Great Lent. I enjoyed Saturday Divine Liturgy. No more. And, sadly, there is no bishop to tell him otherwise.
Fr. G seems to be a good and dedicated man, but he is spread thin. How can he moderate the priest community with responsibilities in Alaska? How can he regulate / dictate the minimum serving of prescribed rubrics? Who is paying for all of the trips to Alaska? Where is this reporting????
+BN was over the top. But he was not so "initially". He entered with the best intentions to regulate a broken and somewhat corrupt diocese. In the process, he too changed, and took root in the arrogance and ignorance that now plagues the OCA.
I agree 100% - +BN is a product of the current OCA environment, as are the other bishops! They too are not innocent, and diocesan investigations should continue - beginning as the above author suggests right in New York!
1 - What is happening at the NY / NJ Diocesan Center in Bronxville?
2 - Where are the receipts at St. Tikhon's? The books do not balance!!!!
+MH is very much the head of both. The pattern of corruption continues. Will he "bring down" +BT and demand his full audit at St. Tikhon's as he has done in Alaska? When will he judge himself as the author above suggests?
To answer my own question - probably neither. I was at a pontifical liturgy this past Great Lent with +MH presiding. His sermon was barely intelligible - his voice so low and he had to stop several times. He did not distribute communion. I felt so sorry for him. He is "killing himself" over his own reputation - forever tarnished - instead of for the greater good.
+MH - Learn from the late +ML of Blessed Memory of the ROCOR! Uniting with Russia was and is unpopular, but he did the right thing! I am not advocating re-unification of our church, but a retransformation beginning with yourself. Save yourself before you kill yourself! Help us please who still have Faith in the Orthodox Church but have lost it in the OCA and YOU!
Alas, like +BN, we too fall prey to the temptation of arrogance and complacency and are too "cast off".
The crisis of the central administration has now affected the clergy and laity. This was the first Great Lent where I saw it firsthand. Right from my own father confessor! It's all so very sad. And, I never had a stronger temptation to leave the Faith and join a church that really prays and provides community service across a spectrum of outreach programs!
I would love to hear if others have encountered / feel the same.
Thank you very much.
#50 Anonymous on 2008-05-16 11:46
Thanks, K. Carlsen,
I appreciate your comments. I know it has been just about 15 years that I have been back in Alaska. A long time! I hope Fr. Paul and I can visit there again some time!
I do think there is a wisdom to getting more learning support to the Alaskans there, from learning centers and satellites, to "adopter" parishes here in the "lower 48."
As others have mentioned, the satellite system is not really new and it functions well here in the Lower 48 when it comes to college and university systems. I was able to go to Penn State from my hometown in Erie, PA. This saved me a lot of expense and allowed me to stay close to my family and church after high school. When I went down to State College my last year, the OCA did not have a regular situation yet there so I was glad I could be close to an Orthodox church in the greater Erie area.
Also one reason I returned to school as an adult learner was because of the convenience of the satellite campus of APU ten miles from my home. That was a very helpful incentive and I have just finished up six years of course work at APU in a combined masters and doctorate program. Just basically the dissertation left to research and write.
Let us put on our thinking caps for Alaska! Let us also continue to give our love, attention, and devotion to a special place that has given our church so many saints and examples to model.
#51 Patty Schellbach on 2008-05-16 13:24
Well, well, well... Are you one of them from the Kusko area? Talked to your elders yet? Many of us know that BN will leave his prints to his loved ones, right? You can always follow him, you always have. Some people have 'learned' to live under such command of BN. BUT there are some that refuse to get tainted with his commands. Telling us that our elders are trying to stay in control of our lives. Not true... they held us together, united, telling us to love one another. Ofcoarse there are some that go too far but, many teach positive, moral, lifestyles. Depends on where and how you were brought up I guess. Sometimes you have to fall flat on your face, hit bottom, to learn and accept that we are not abandoned. God knows what one goes through. We didn't go bashing BN, or any bishop. It's all in your head! Nikolai has taught us alot, much we never knew. Maybe if he utilized his greatest gifts...LOVE, JOY, HUMILITY, he wouldn't have brought himself to this. Everyone has these... it's up to individuals to open and share them. Nikolai was doing good teaching but, his arrogant pride swollowed him. Lust of power. What we did, we did for our hurting people- maybe you weren't the one hurting but, many were. We all will answer to God when the time comes. Only He knows what went on here in Alaska, everything. When you know that something isn't right- doesn't it bother you when you just let it be. Some had sleepless nights, some grew spiritually sick, and for some all the pain became anger. Maybe someday you will encounter people that came to our church for help but, never got it because it was never approved by Nikolai. In case you weren't aware EVERYTHING had to be approved by him. We learned that not everything had to go through him especailly to LOVE people and show mercy! I pray that God forgives us all here for depriving our people of these when we thought we were being obedient to our bishop. Forgive us!
#52 unworthy on 2008-05-16 14:01
Who raised the funds?
#53 Anonymous on 2008-05-16 14:16
I don't base my faith on the leaders, I am concentrating on my own salvation in my Orthodox faith - the way I was raised and taught. I am from Alaska and spent my Pascha at the Cathedral with +Bishop Nickoli and I had a wonderful, beautiful Pascha. I made my joyous feast a joyous feast, with the proclamation of "CHRIST IS RISEN".........INDEED HE IS RISEN!!!
#54 Anonymous on 2008-05-16 14:55
Fr. Chad did the fund raising.
Fr. Chad requested the OCMC teams.
Fr. Chad recruited the faculty.
Yet from Bishop Nikolai's lips:
It's all mine!
#55 somewhere over the rainbow on 2008-05-16 16:17
There is nothing bad about what the Synod has done. A deposition of Nikolai for tonsuring a sex offender could have been a strict read of church law and extremely petty in my opinion. And in all honesty, it wasn't the real reason for Nikolai's push out.
So, if you say to a Bishop, look, you have behaved poorly in several instances and the people do not wish to follow you and we could depose you for a petty infraction but would rather not, why is anyone upset?
Those that want the Bishop should be grateful he wasn't deposed. Those that don't want him should be grateful he is gone. Everything else is noise. What about his pension? Unfair! Who cares? The Synod has done very well in this matter, save one.
The Synod's greater failure in the Bishop Nikolai matter is not dealing expediently with Bishops [or clerics] that are behaving badly. Nikolai has deserved multiple reprimands over the past years and gotten none for some wild, hair brained meddling rule we follow. By the way, as an accounting of this matter goes, this meddling rule needs our attention more than this issue.
The Synod's failure with RSK is actually the same and probably in the Koumentakos matter as well.
Our church governance has proven itself time and again to not be expedient in dealing with matters that demand expediency.
I'd give the Synod high marks on the management of the Nikolai matter of late, but an F for expediency.
Expediency may have modified everyone's expectations and the Bishop's behavior long ago. Expediency would have afforded Lydia Black an OCA funeral that noone has claimed was undeserved.
And let's not forget that hair brained meddling rule we have...
#56 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-05-17 06:09
Nice buildings are no substitute for a quality education delivered by a competent faculty. Who are the faculty members at SHS right now? Oh, that's right, -Nikolai fired them all. But hey, aren't those buildings nice?
#57 Dr. Herbert Elfers on 2008-05-17 06:30
And if you do not believe that all of the "bishop" stuff is not being swept under the carpet, just take a drive to St. Tikhon's for their Memorial Day Celebration. At S. Canaan Corners be sure to look for the large new home owned by the Archdeacon to the Primate - it's the one with the large fountain in front. If you should get invited inside, you will note the multiple fireplaces and walk in wine cellar. The Primate sold the property to the good deacon for $1.00. As you proceed, the Primate lives in the home of the Bishop of Eastern Pennsylvania while the residence of the Bishop of the Diocese of New York remains vacant. Now the OCA pays the Primate in excess of $100,000 salary, shouldn't he have SOME responsibility? The good deacon also operates a jewelry store at St. Tikhon's Religious Center. Is there not something wrong with this picture?
#58 MP on 2008-05-17 09:24
Where did you come up with the $100,000 per bishop number?I've seen the budgets of the Midwest, New England, Eastern Pennsylvania, South, West, Canada, and Alaska dioceses, and in none of these does the hierarch's total compensation package add up to $100,000. The top 3 (Midwest, South, West) are all in the low $80"s, and the others are nowhere near that.
Milos Konjevich, Treasurer
Diocese of the South
#59 Milos Konjevich on 2008-05-17 10:07
About those stipends, "they can't take it with them." Perhaps they give it to the poor. One can only hope.
Let's pray for some true monastics to come and be a part of our church so that we can have a wealth of good bishop candidates.
#60 Alex on 2008-05-17 11:15
I am replying to the Editor's Note which said that the Bishops' stipends had been reinstated, that the bishops had received a lump sum payment of what had not been paid, and are now receiving monthly stipends.
Of course, I was not given any warning about my retirement package being shaved down by $650 a month before the checks stopped coming at the beginning of this year, so why should I be told that my "fixed income" (this refers to pensions, etc., in a civilized world where those who have retired can count on a certain amount of money with which to budget their existence), but I feel I should point out that I have not seen anything to support the Editor's (surprise) Note.
As for someone's mean little remark about $100,000 pensions...I hope the writer will still, in the future, be able to build a real life, and not continue the apparent, but imaginary one filled with such fantasies.
(Editor's note: I think the Bishop has an issue with the Synod, not me.)
#61 Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) on 2008-05-17 12:45
Through the prays of the Holy Martyr Peter the Aleut, Blessed Olga of Alaska, and the sweet smelling Martha of Kwethluk, Lord have mercy on us
#62 Wiinallu on 2008-05-17 13:37
I too am concentrating on my own salvation, but its becoming increasingly harder to do so when rubrics are served incorrectly and the celebration of saints and holy days are cut in half by complacent clergy.
As an example, at one time, we had services everyday of Bright Week, celebrated Divine Liturgy on the day of the commemoration of the twelve major apostles, as well as those of Sts. Constantine and Helen this month. This year - two services during Bright Week, no services in May. Same throughout Great Lent. Bare minimum. And, for the first time, no bus trip to St. Tikhon's. It was voted down.
There is a cancer spreading among the clergy, and its trickling to the laity. Alaska is only one piece of a larger puzzle that does not fit!
Look at what was discussed at the Spring meeting of the hierarchs. No updates on the financial situation, lawsuits, Orthodox Fall Council, etc. The first release was that of depositions. Very sad.
All I am saying is, when bishops and priests no longer care and no longer serve communities (and not all because there are very good priests still left), it becomes hard for career professionals truly seeking God in the OCA and wanting to do community service to exist here. So, I need to find my own way through Great Lent, celebrate Pascha on my own and find my own way to St. Tikhon's. This is happening all over the Diocese of NY / Washington, and it needs to be investigated next, followed by that of Philadelphia and E. PA where the books there are also unbalanced.
I say again - +BN acted on his own, but he is the 'victim' of a corrupt system. The bishops should not and cannot call the kettle black, but this is in essence what they have done. And, this needs to be changed before more bishops are ordained, and the cycle continues!
#63 Anonymous on 2008-05-17 19:18
OK, Alaska will now be on the mend. We still need to repair the OCA Central Administration. Everything that's been said, all the evidence and STILL Met. Herman stays in power. HOW? The guy is guilty as sin with all the past OCA financial scandals. .....
#64 Anonymous on 2008-05-18 11:38
Why do the hierarchs, other than the Metropolitan, receive a stipend from the national church? Doesn't each diocese have the responsibility to provide for the financial support of their hierarch? How is the financial support of each and every hierarch the responsibility of the national church? Shouldn't the Metropolitan only receive financial support from the national church only for those activities in which he represents the national church?
#65 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-05-19 02:32
I do believe the only thing Nikolai accomplished for the Seminary was managing to make it loose its accreditation.
Now with Nikolai gone the staff at St. Herman's have to spend all the time (and money) all over again to regain accreditation.
#66 Anonymous on 2008-05-19 07:01
Is that low 80K/year number with or without the required honorarium payments each bishop receives when visting parishes?
Regarding + Nicolai, he is trying to get the Serbs in CA to accept him as a bishop. This, of course, would be a disaster and most of the "enlightened" Serbs don't want him, no way, no how. Gee, you'd think a single guy in Las Vegas with a big mansion and retirement check would be happy!
#68 Anonymous on 2008-05-20 05:23
I think, though someone may know better, that all the clergy pay into a joint benefit pension fund. Payments into this fund is a part of the "benefit package" a parish puts together as a part of their priest's salary. Upon retirement all clergy are paid out from this fund based upon a calculation of rank, time served, payments made into the fund, etc. What Nikolai's retirement pension actually is, then, is anyone's guess. But I don't think it is a flat dollar amount, whether $1000 or $100,000. Even if he did go live in a monastery in "poverty" he would still be dependent upon our donations. Monasteries must purchase health insurance, liability, and cover other expenses for all their monastics. Since they are religious institutions, liability insurance has just gone through the roof (since insurers think all religious monastics are sexual perverts these days). Since I only know of one OCA monastery which is self-sufficient (and they and Nikolai wouldn't touch eachother with a thousand foot pole) Nikolai would still be on our "payroll" even if in a more roundabout way. Though I can't think of any OCA monastery which would accept him...which Igumen would run the risk of having his cenobitic community fractured by his presence? Or do we want Nikolai to live as a solitary? Last I checked, even basket weaving wouldn't even begin to pay for health insurance.
Ok, if we all think $100,000 is too much, then how much should we pay our retired clergy? $60,000? $30,000? $15,000? Does this include or not include health and liability? Does this factor in Social Security (if there is any). Should a retired bishop draw more or less than a retired priest? Should we have a way to release clergy with a "dishonorable discharge" for offenses which do not fall under canonical deposition? Should we pay such clergy less, or nothing at all? Do we want to see retired clergy living on skid row just because of spite?
If we all have questions about this, we should ask, and get some answers from those who are on the pension board. If we want changes, we can bring them up at the AAC, no?
#69 Anonymous on 2008-05-20 08:49
SHS was never accredited; until 1998 (Bishop Innocent's tenure), it had authorization from Alaska's Post-Secondary Education Commission which means that its students were eligible for government-backed loans. The authorization lapsed in 1998, and due to a change in State regulations, SHS would have to be accredited by a recognized accreditation agency in order to regain the State authorization for student loan eligibility. SHS, in 1998, was going to try to get accreditation, last anyone knew; Bishop Nikolai arrived in 2001, 3 years later. It wasn't until 2005 that SHS administration inquired about the State's accreditation requirements, 4 years further on. In 2007, TRACS, an accreditation agency, notified SHS administration of the steps still needed to be taken to achieve accreditation, but 2007 is when SHS senior administrators/faculty and Board members disappeared. So, no progress. The whole thing explains why Bishop Nikolai was ensuring that the students were supported by privately funded support - he made lemonade out of lemons. The question is: what is needed at SHS to achieve accreditation? Is there any SHS staff left who can take these steps?
#70 Anonymous on 2008-05-20 09:18
Well, if Bp. Nikolai wasn't the way he became when he arrived in Alaska - spring, 2001, if I recall, he sure wound up there fast . . . he kicked the old lady archivist out during that summer's St. Herman pilgrimage . . . I guess he is impatient if he "turned" so quickly.
#71 Anonymous on 2008-05-20 09:25
Don't forget Outreach Alaska. This project was working for Alaska before Bishop NIKOLAI or Father Chad - since 1999. Outreach Alaska totally refurbished the seminary library, purchased all new furniture for the classrooms and library, paid for the construction and materials for the new St. Juliana Food Pantry and pays for all purchases to stock the pantry for seminarians and their families. Also, maintained the Adopt a Seminarian sponsors providing monthly support for seminarians and their families since 2002.
When Fr. Chad announced the First Missionaries Scholarship Funds for SHS, Outreach Alaska raised a large portion of these donations. Last summer, Outreach Alaska partnered with IOCC to provide Substance Abuse classes for the seminarians. These are just a few of the ongoing projects to assist seminarians, SHS, and other areas of the Alaska Church.
There was also a program of fundraising at SHS - Ilasi - that is no more since the last year. There were many helping Alaska - giving their time and love for this great and Holy Land. Let us all learn about what is available to continue the good works. Coming together in support of what has been done will help to heal the pain and move forward with vision and hope.
Even though Fr. Chad is no longer at SHS, he can lend his voice to the future of the seminary. Fr. Chad was the concrete that made it all work. But - he had his helpers, too. God willing - they will continue and a door will be opened for new support to work with old support.
I have read here over the past months, suggestions for supporting clergy, parishes, seminarians, etc in Alaska. If these people are serious about their ideas, bring them to the programs that have been working to make this happen and let us begin anew - from this point - together.
Mary Ann Khoury, Coordinator
#72 Anonymous on 2008-05-20 09:52
Well - you cannot lay this one on Bishop NIKOLAI. The accreditation was lost long before he ever arrived in AK. In fact, the focus for Paul Sidebottom's missionary work was to acquire accreditation. Other than being dedicated to the SHS students, he was dedicated to this assignment. It moved closer until last spring when NIKOLAI would obviously not go along with some of the necessary changes. Look back in SHS history - it was lost around 1997 or earlier.
#73 Anonymous on 2008-05-20 10:09
You had better believe that things will continue to go as Herman decides. He manages to control all outcomes - discarding whoever he needs to at the time. The other bishops are enablers, each with many skeltons in their closets. Herman having been around for so long, knows how to pit one against the other to manage the crisis of the day. When something comes up out of the blue like the Romanians leaving the OCA, he says, I just believed what I was told, and he continues to control. It's very sad!
#74 MP on 2008-05-21 03:09
You fail to understand. Distance learning can be great for just "content," but when you are choosing a priest or bishop, the "PERSON" must be seen, evaluated and trained. Seminary training is forming or transforming of the person, not just book learning. Many alcoholics or personality twisted people are very bright, but you don't want them as your priest or bishop (+ Nicolai).
#75 Anonymous on 2008-05-21 05:49
If #14 is correct,it would seem the Snyod made a huge error in that they did not carry through with a suspension and a trial for the former bishop of Alaska
#76 Anonymous on 2008-05-21 07:28
As a priest in the Diocese of Washington & New York (of the former Diocese--and now Deanery--of Washington) I feel I have to say that this phenomenon of priests cutting services wholesale in their parishes is not one I have noticed. Around here, quite the opposite, in fact. I'm a little bit more accustomed to hearing, when trying to institute another ("new"? Well, not really) service, "Well, gee, we never did that back home at St. So-and-so's Belgravian (insert favorite nationality here--this is my catch-all when I don't want to name names) Orthodox Church."
Oh, I forgot: as documented on some of these threads a few onths ago, we priests have a cushy job. Paid overly much, too. Uh huh.
#77 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2008-05-21 09:12
Mary Ann ideed is an amazing lady and has done tremendous fund raising and support work for the seminary administration, academics and student needs (including profound encouragement). She is very talented!! What is needed now, since the great team at St. Herman's Seminary is gone (and I include Bishop Nikolai and Fr. Chad in that group) except for Fr. John Dunlop and Dr. Bea Dunlop and Fr. Innocent Dresdow, is to get them some HELP asap!!! They need fundraising help, they need academic support help and they need a powerful committment from Metropolitan Herman, the Synod of Bishops and nation-wide clergy that St. Herman's Seminary will not fold, it will continue its profound legacy to Alaska and the whole church that Fr. Kreta and Matushka Marie Kreta started so long ago. If in fact the Alaskan church is the gem and beginning of the church around the U.S. then it must not be forgotten now that the year of negative news coverage has stopped. Can St. Vladimir's become connected officially to the seminary? Can there be visiting professors teaching there? Can there be a nation-wide fund drive to ensure the seminary doesn't fold and an enowment set up? It would be a shame to see all the hard work of so many disappear if the seminary does not continue!!
#78 Anonymous on 2008-05-21 09:29
Perhaps, what lives in Vegas stays in Vegas? There may need to be canonical amendments needed for such phraseology, but it would be a useful economy.
#79 anon on 2008-05-21 10:53
He hasn't gone INTO the gutter cause he's already LIVING IN IT. He RULES the gutter! It was through his hand that the gutter got so cluttered with the refuse now clogging it.
Hey, where's the #137,000 payback? That would show us the integrity you say he has. And where's the reconciliation of the other $1M? Don't give me that integrity garbage. We know why he ain't talking and its got NOTHING to do with integrity, its got to do with self incrimination. Integrity means he would come out and tell it like it was, but he can't otherwise every controlling civil authority would be racing to take him into custody. He disgusts me to this day and will continue to until he DOES show integrity and love of God. Until then, spare the disk space and don't give us this crap.
Why do we have to keep pointing this out!?
#80 Anonymous on 2008-05-21 10:57
OK, fair enough. Can you give us the breakdown on budget lines for his salary, hospitalization, housing, FICA, discretionary spending, and other items which the normal priest or lay person must pay for himself? Does he have a car? Does he have a driver? How much does he need to live on considering he is a MONK with cares taken care of by the Church? Why is a MONK even getting $80K a year? I bet the real monks in Tikhon's aren't getting $80K a year and couldn't care less, why should the shepard himself, the bishop? We need bishops to show us the humility they want us to believe they have and life an impoverished lifestyle.
And this is independent of the stipends from the Church, excuse me, the payoffs to be quiet on all the garbage at the Church core.
Tell us, Milos, how much does he spend on vestments a year? And, beacuse I don't know, are those paid for out of his own pocket or the Church's?
#81 Anonymous on 2008-05-21 11:04
Rank has nothing to do with deciding the amount of pension. You have to be in the plan for 15 years to vest. The priest puts in 6% of his salary a month and the Parish puts in 6%. The pension is figured on your five highest years of salary, there are no health benefits. You provide them on your own. I don't believe any priest retired is getting $30,000 a year. I may be wrong and if that is so it is only a couple.
#82 anon on 2008-05-21 11:16
"Required honorarium"? That may be so in the DOW but it is not in the DOS. I don't know of any diocesan bishop that demands an honorarium for a visit. I certainly know one bishop who does not and never has in 30 years.
#83 Anonymous on 2008-05-21 11:38
Word on the street is that Mitred Archmandrite Isidore, Chancellor of the Diocese of Alaska and Rector of St. Herman Seminary, and Hierodeacon Panteleimon of St. Innocent's Cathedral in Anchorage are at St. Sava's Serbian Monastery in Australia, awaiting Bishop Nikolai Former Bishop of Sitka.
This move if true is twofold: flee investigation and possible discipline, ecclesial and civil; and troll for future vicitms down under.
(Editor's note: OCANews.org can confirm that Dn. Panteleimon is indeed in Australia. Bishop Nikolai and Fr. Isadore are both reportedly in Las Vegas.
As for discipline, the OCA has already suspended both Dn. Panteliemon and Fr. Isadore for abandoning their posts in Alaska without permission.
No civil or criminal charges have been filed against any of three at this time. )
#84 somewhere over the rainbow on 2008-05-22 12:50
This is entirely correct. It also needs to be kept in mind when accepting clergy from other jurisdictions, even if they have seminary training, as there is currently no mean of accountability even between SCOBA jurisdictions involved in such transfers. It is too easy to just move a 'problem' priest to another jurisdiction.
#85 Anonymous on 2008-05-22 20:30
On the outset, I must confess that I don't have the spiritual stomach to read everything written on these blogs. I only look through for clergy or for people I know who have expressed their opinion. Therefore, I may be simply displaying my stupidity and ignorance as I ask this question:
Does Syosset expect the forced retirement of Bishop NIKOLAI to be the end of the story of this Alaskan scandal? Is the investigation still going on, or is it conveniently dropped, like so many other scandals in the OCA supposedly "behind us"?
Clergy in the Columbus Deanery wrote a letter to the Holy Synod before their second special meeting, stating that IF the allegations are found to have substance, then Bishop NIKOLAI must be deposed, not retired. To retire a bishop allows the possibility of being brought out of retirement, such as for a vacant diocese, like the South, for instance, where most of the major players in the Kondratick embezzlement have migrated. Such a possibility is unacceptable, if the allegations against His Grace Bishop NIKOLAI are found to have substance.
To me, the whole thing smells of the same old tactic. Have we not had enough of sweeping our scandals under the rug? Alaska may be free of its alleged tyrant, but the investigation should continue and be completed, with its findings revealed to the entire Church. Bishop NIKOLAI deserves nothing less if he is indeed as innocent as he says (which I hope he is). More importantly, nothing less is acceptable in Christ's Body, in light of Holy Scripture's command for bishops to remain blameless.
As a sidenote, it should be mentioned that deposition does not constitute condemnation. It simply means he cannot serve as a bishop. It doesn't mean he isn't loved, prayed for, "saved," or repentant. May God bless Bishop NIKOLAI with every blessing under heaven! May he grow closer to Christ through the ecclesial discipline of deposition such that he shines with the saints! But if an investigation finds substance, he can no longer serve as a bishop, because his words and deeds have brought reproach upon the episcopacy. It has nothing to do with individual salvation, and everything to do with the integrity of the Church.
Father Mark Hodges
St Stephen the First Martyr Orthodox Mission
in the greek church some parish priests get a 100 ks a year,so what if a bishop gets that too. i want my bishop to drive a nice car and have nice vestments because he represents the church.a 100 ks is not even close to what any doctor makes a year.most oca people simply are stingy.that being said,i don't condone the financial mismanagement that took place in syosset and think that ALL financial matters of the church should be handled EXCLUSIVELY by qualified lay people.this would be in the best interest of the clergy,because it would put them above any suspicion,and besides,most clergy are "not good "with money,so let them" swing the kadilo"(censer),do their "paki i paki"(again and again....) and leave the finances to smart business people.but,again, i do not begrudge my clergy to have nice things and a good live, i don't want my priest and bishop be beggars,but in return,they must be NICE,a meany like NIKOLAI should not be a diocesan bishop. i feel sorry for him,he ruined it for himself,had he been "a good boy" he might have gotten the white klobuk, well,blame yourself.
#87 Anonymous on 2008-05-23 12:07
Fr. Buck, you certainly do not have a cushy job, and the majority of priests are not overpaid, in fact are struggling to get by.
One fine priest I know asked his bishop to release him to go to a parish in another state that had asked for him. The bishop did a bit of 'mind-reading," and told this priest "Oh, you only want to go there because...." The priest told his bishop that, on the contrary, he had to make such awful choices, between a new pair of shoes and food for the table. (His family had bought him some shoes when they noticed the huge hole in one flapping sole.) The bishop (OCA) told our friend the priest to cut back on the services and find a part time job. Cate
#88 cate on 2008-05-23 15:21
With respect, I heartily disagree with you with your posting. The hierarchs of the OCA, functioning as the Synod of Bishops, failed the church miserably in their handling of the scandals involving Bishop Nikolai. Rather than undertake the obviously unpleasant, but canonical investigation of the allegations against Bishop Nikolai in a timely manner, the Synod attempted to avoid the unpleasantness of disciplining a bully of its own making by making up its own disciplinary procedures along the way. The foolishly played intot hte hands of their bully of a brother hierarch. The Synod of Bishops and each individual hierarch utterly failed the church in these matters.
The rule against the meddling of one or more bishops in the affairs of another diocese is a good and necessary rule ... but what Bishop Nikolai claimed was meddling on the part of Archbishop Job could only be considered meddling by someone guilty of what of the base allegation.
#89 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-05-24 03:14
In San Francisco, too, Father. We have more services than anytime in the last six years. The church is open three or four days every week and I have heard that Bishop Benjamin is going to make it possible for us to do more.
In the DOS the Archbishop buys his own vestments and I believe the same holds true for the other dioceses that I looked at. The compensation numbers submitted in my earlier post comprised the entire compensation package, including health & life insurance and pension plan. Pretty basic stuff. No cheauffers. I'm not trying to fool, or defend, anybody. Just interested in the truth, like so many others.
#91 Milos Konjevich on 2008-05-25 23:33
Most of the dioceses post their financials on their website, so you should be able to find the answer to your questions. For the record, my numbers comprised the entire compensation package, fringe benefits included. I'd still like to know where the other Anonymous came up with his $100K average. Could it be that I'm not looking in the right places?
#92 Milos Konjevich on 2008-05-25 23:53
Well now. So "most of the major players in the Kondratick embezzlement" have migrated to the South? Can you tell me how many major players there are and how many have come South, or is your statement merely a gratuitous slander? No preaching please. Just the facts.
#93 Milos Konjevich on 2008-05-26 23:21
And this is not to mention that nothing like the 'Kondratick embezzlement' was ever documented or proved in the 'Spiritual Court', which was a farce in every way.
Were any such thing true, wouldn't reasonable people expect the OCA to have prosecuted Fr Robert Kondratick in the state's criminal courts?!
But that didn't happen, and can't happen, because it's just not true. Met. Theodosius and Met. Herman are the guilty parties, and the sooner they're held accountable, the better.
(Editor's note: It is not up to the OCA to initiate criminal action; it is the state's job. So be careful what you wish for, Mr. Silver. What the OCA can do is countersue Mr. Kondratick for the missing funds - which is what they have announced they will be doing.
What we do agree on is that Met. Herman and Theodosius are also responsible. One can only hope they too are held accountable in the near future. )
#94 Monk James on 2008-05-27 18:20
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