On 7th June 2017, the Ruling Bishop of the Western American Diocese, His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill, celebrates the 25th anniversary of his episcopal consecration — first as Bishop of Seattle (1992), and later as Bishop (2000) and then Archbishop (2003) of San Francisco and Western America. Not only is such an anniversary a moment of significance for the Archbishop himself, inviting his own private reflections on a quarter-century of Archpastoral service and labours before God; it is also a moment of significance for the Diocese, and indeed for the Church as a whole, which gives glory to God for the whole Hierarchy of her devout clergy of all ranks and offices, who in the long service of her Archpastor have been called to lead Godly lives and approach the Heavenly Kingdom in the ancient and essential context of our hierarchical life.
The biography of His Eminence is found below, together with a gallery of photographs from the past twenty-five years, in anticipation of more substantial materials to be collected later in the year when the Western American Diocese will mark this occasion during its autumn pastoral conference. In the meantime, it is our hope that the clergy, monastics and faithful of the Diocese will offer up their fervent prayers for our Diocesan Bishop now, at the time of the anniversary itself — that the Lord may continue to grant him strength, health and a zeal of Faith for the flock entrusted to him.
To shepherd a flock is a task of pastoral love. Our zealous priests know this with reference to the parishes entrusted to them; our abbots with reference to their monasteries. To be a shepherd requires patience, endurance, love, a long-suffering spirit, and the desire to seek the glory of God for one’s flock despite one’s own weaknesses and human frailties — which become ever more visible before one’s eyes, the more deeply one strives to fulfill his calling — and despite the innumerable challenges thrust before one by man’s foibles and the devil’s cunning. The charge to ‘feed my sheep’ sets the necessary cadence of life, the whole of one’s calling in the Church and in this world. In the case of a bishop, and a Ruling Bishop above all, this pastoral charge takes its fullest form. In addition to the charge to ‘feed my sheep’, the hierarch is called to defend the faith, to preserve the inheritance of the Holy Gospel for all generations; to uphold the canonical life of the Church in the face of a world that is so often — and increasingly — hostile towards it.
His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill has striven to accomplish the charge of his Archpastoral ministry over a quarter-century of remarkable challenges and changes. During His Eminence’s episcopal tenure, the great saint of our modern era, St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco was glorified by the Church — in which rites Vladyka Kyrill took part. The long division within the Russian Church was overcome. Ties with the Fatherland were re-fashioned and strengthened. Relations with other Orthodox jurisdictions in North America, and further afield, were rekindled and expanded. In all this, the faithful of the Western American Diocese have been able to rely upon the fact that the Faith of our Fathers would never be denied or abandoned or weakened, that the stability of the Church would not be permitted to falter, and that the Life in Christ handed to the faithful children of the Diaspora would never be without the life-giving sustenance of the Church that had given them birth — all within the context of the right hierarchical life that His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill has diligently maintained, in fulfillment of the charge of his consecration.
Twenty-five years on, His Eminence would be the first to say that there is still much work to be done. And so it will always be, until our Saviour comes again. But where so many quarters of the world are beset with the many troubles of constant change and a lack of stability, the Western American Diocese continues to live under the steady episcopal tenure of its long-serving Archbishop. For this blessing, gratitude to God is the most fitting response. This, we offer whole-heartedly, together with all the reverend clergy of the Diocese, the monastics and faithful, beseeching that the Lord will grant His servant, Our Lord the Most Reverend Kyrill, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America, many years of further service in episcopal life.
Bishop of Sacramento
Vicar of the Western American Diocese
May 25/ June 7, 2017
Archbishop Kyrill was born Boris Mikhailovich Dmitrieff on 24 November 1954, in San Francisco to Russian Orthodox parents. Fluent in Russian since his youth, he loved to serve as an altar boy, and went on to read during divine services. In 1972 at the age of 17, Archbishop Anthony (Medvedev, +2000) of San Francisco and Western America ordained him as a Reader, and later that year, after graduating high school, he enrolled at the University of San Francisco, which he graduated on an accelerated schedule with a Bachelor's Degree in Theology in 1976. Boris then decided to continue his education at St. Vladimir's Academy, where he received a Master's Degree in Theology in 1979. In 1981, he was tonsured a monk (in Jerusalem) and ordained as a hierodeacon by Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky, +1985), and a month later was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Anthony (Medvedev, +2000). That year he was appointed to the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem and began to teach Russian and English at Bethany School. In 1982, for health reasons, he was transferred to the Diocese of San Francisco and Western America. In 1987, he was appointed Director of Sts. Cyril and Methodius School at the Cathedral of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” in San Francisco, and elevated to the rank of Abbot. In 1988, he was awarded the palitsa. On 7 June 1992, he was consecrated Bishop of Seattle, Vicar Bishop of the Diocese of San Francisco and Western America. In 2000, upon the repose of Archbishop Anthony, he was appointed Ruling Bishop of that diocese.
In 2003, he was a member of the first official delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia visiting Russia to meet with His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II. Later that year, Bishop Kyrill was elevated to the rank of Archbishop. In 2008, he was awarded the diamond cross by the Council of Bishops. In 2009, he was decorated with the Order of St. Innocent, 2nd Degree, and in 2012 was decorated with the Order of St. Sergius, 2nd Degree. In 2014 he received the Patriarchal commemorative panagia in honour of his 60th anniversary. All three honours were bestowed by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. In 2010 he was decorated by the Head of the Royal House - Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna with the Order of St. Anne, 2nd Degree; in 2013 with the Order of St. Anne, 1st Degree and in 2014 with the Order of St. Vladimir, 2nd Degree.
We have arrived at the Feast of the Nativity according to the flesh of our Lord and God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and our hearts are filled with joy at the coming of Christ into the world. We rejoice because we see, in the cave of Bethlehem, the love that our God has for us: that He called together the elder Joseph to be foster-father; the young, pure Mary, ever-virgin, to be Theotokos; the shepherds of the local tribes to be heralds; the Magi from cultures foreign and far off to be emissaries and prophets — all to be united into a single, mystical Body, a family, at the Nativity of the Father’s Sonʼ
We must stand in wonder at this beautiful mystery. Shepherds, elders, children, foreigners: in the Nativity, beneath the star of Bethlehem, they are brought together. They are made one. And we, too, stand beneath the Lord’s star. In our temples, whether they be great cathedrals or the humblest parish church, the Lord draws us to be with Him in Bethlehem, to stand with all those He has called to His earthly birth in this manner for millennia. We stand with that same righteous Joseph; we sing with the Mother of God, with the shepherds and kings; and we ourselves stand together, side-by-side, one Body and one family in Christ.
On this Great Feast, above all, my fervent desire is for us to be one — one family, whole and complete only when we stand together in the service of the Lord. Just as a husband is not a husband without a wife, as a son is not a son without a father, so we are never fully one family of Christ’s precious children unless we abide with one another. Do we not hear the voice of our Saviour calling us to Him, and in that same act calling us together? Let us rise up, then and respond! Let us find ways, however small or great, to make our unity more visible, more tangible. There are always obstacles to coming together, to being united: but let us rise up before these challenges as the Magi once undertook their long and arduous journey, knowing that at its end was the True Light that would transform their existence.
To all the beloved children of the Western American Diocese: may the joy of this Feast inspire us all with deep love and profound gratitude toward our Saviour. I greet you in love, and joyfully bestow upon you the blessing of the Feast.
VOL.2 (№1) 2 014 SPIRITUAL SPRING
Christ is Risen! Truly, He is risen!
Once more we revel in the joy of the Feast of Feasts, as the empty tomb proclaims new life to the whole world. Our faith, though at times frail and tender, has brought us nevertheless to these bright days; and whether like the Holy Apostles we had fled Christ’s side or like the holy Myrrhbearing Women we had remained faithfully at His feet through these long lenten days, our Lord has brought us to His Resurrection together. We are united with all creation in venerating this incomprehensible triumph of life over death, of love over hatred, of divinity over apathy. We are one family, one body, and today our Head has conquered everything that could divide us. He has seen our weakness and our frailty, and He has made us whole.
Let there be no limit to the pious rejoicing that stirs now in our hearts as the Lord lifts us by the hand out of hades, through the shattered gates of hell, towards His Kingdom of eternal life. May this gift transform us into new examples of piety, love, humility and kindness, and may we know within our hearts the true meaning of the words that change the universe: Christ is Risen! Truly, He is Risen!
Bestowing upon you my archpastoral blessing, and wishing you the joy of the Feast,
Christ is risen! Truly, He is risen!
Both of these saints have become symbols of Orthodoxy for us, Russian Orthodoxy. For us, the children of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, these symbols are close to our hearts and dear to us and thus we are celebrating these two anniversaries together with the fulness of the Russian Church. But Sts. Sergius and John are not only symbols: they are alive to this very day. Even today they interact with all people that honor them and appeal to them. Even today they are with their beloved Russian flock and all the children of the Russian Church in all parts of the world. St. John of Kronstadt constantly repeated that in God, we all constitute a whole: the angels, the saints, and Christians working out their salvation, both the living and the dead.
The world in which we live is in many ways similar to the worlds of the 14th and 20th centuries, in which Sts. Sergius and John lived: again we live amidst enmity and bloody conflicts. Our world is also being torn apart by human sin and various vices, as well as apathy towards God’s commandments.
What do St. Sergius, and his spiritual heir, St. John of Kronstadt, have to teach us? We must have a spirit of humility, a heart full of contrition over our sins, and true spiritual life; true prayer, and not only wishes and requests! We have to be bearers of the spirit of joyous transformation in God. We must learn to trust the Church of Christ and learn from the Church herself: from her teachings and traditions, from her divine services, and from the word of God.
We must not hide our holy faith! Each one of us must protect their soul amidst the storm of evil and passions which rise up against the truth.
By God's mercy the Western American Diocese is entering into the 81st year of it's existence. As 2014 comes to an end I would like to personally thank all of you, my dear fathers-concelebrants and brothers and sisters, for your generosity, support, obedience, trust, prayers and dedication to the Holy Church of Christ and our common Church goals. I am extremely grateful to God for the clergy and flock with which He has entrusted me.
Allow me to conclude my brief archpastoral letter with the words of the holy Apostle Paul to the Christians in Thessaloniki, words which are close to my heart: "We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father… For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy." (I Thess. 1, 2-3; 2, 19-20)
December 11/25, 2014