On June 16/29, during the celebrations surrounding the 20th anniversary of the glorification of St. John of San Francisco, a new bishop for the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia will be consecrated. We offer our readers some information on the episcopal candidate, Archimandrite Nicholas, Bishop-elect of Manhattan and the rite of episcopal consecration as well.
Fr. Nicholas Olhovsky was born in 1974 in Trenton, NJ, one of three sons to WWII immigrants from Belarus. His early spiritual formation took place at Holy Dormition Church in Trenton, and in the church school of St. Alexander Nevsky Church in Howell, NJ. He attended Holy Trinity Seminary, Jordanville, NY, graduating in 1998. He also earned a Bachelor's degree in Communications in 2000 from SUNY Albany.
From 1998-2008, he served as Archbishop (and later, Metropolitan) Laurus' cell attendant, accompanying Vladyka on all of his travels. Fr. Nicholas married Elisabeth Shohov, a granddaughter of Bishop Mitrophan (Znosko), in 2004. He was ordained to the deaconate in 2006. In September of 2010, Elisabeth unexpectedly reposed; in December of the same year, he was appointed guardian of the miraculous "Kursk-Root" Icon of the Theotokos.
Besides traveling with the icon to all of the dioceses of Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia worldwide, he also accompanied the icon to Russia four times, and most recently, to Japan as well.
Fr. Nicholas was ordained a priest in 2012. During Great Lent of 2014, the Synod of Bishops of Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia resolved to elect him as bishop of Manhattan (vicar of the Eastern American Diocese), and submit his nomination for approval by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All of Russia. He was accordingly tonsured a monk on the eve of the Laudation of the Most Theotokos at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, and given the name Nicholas in honor of St. Nicholas of Japan. He was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite by Archbishop Mark in Munich, on the first Sunday after Pascha.
A bishop's consecration is not an everyday occurrence in the liturgical life of the Orthodox Church. Several bishops must participate, to represent the conciliarity of the Church.
The night before the consecration, before the Vigil Service, the candidate submits his nomination to the participating bishops, who sit in the middle of the church, vested in their mantias (cloaks). They confirm it, and sprinkle him with Holy Water.
The next day before the liturgy, a large bishop's "eagle rug" is spread out in the middle of the church. The bishops take their seats, vested, and the candidate is led to the edge of the rug by the Protodeacon and most senior priest present. There, his faith is questioned, and he recites the Symbol of Faith (Nicene Creed), which he, as a bishop, must preach and uphold. This is repeated twice as he steps to the middle of the rug, and then to the opposite edge. After receiving blessings from the bishops, the Protodeacon intones the Many Years for the candidate.
During the Divine Liturgy, after the blessing of the Hierarch during the Trisagion, the candidate is led into the altar through the Royal Doors, where he kneels before the Holy Table. A small book of the Gospels is opened and placed on his head, printed page side down, as if the Lord Himself was placing His hands on his head. All of the bishops place their hands on the Gospel, and the senior bishop recites the prayers of consecration, as the choir slowly and solemnly sings Kyrie, eleison (Lord, have mercy). The new bishop then stands, and is vested in the vestments which are peculiar only to a bishop: sakkos, omophorion, panagia, and miter. He is presented to the people with the exclamation Axios! - "He is worthy!" At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, the senior Hierarch presents the new bishop with his crosier (staff), and charges him with the responsibility of leading his new flock with fear of God and integrity.
Although Fr. Nicholas is young, he has already spent many years in spiritual formation, no doubt in preparation for this calling as an archpastor. We wish him God's blessings and strength as he begins this new path in his life.