Difference between revisions of "Archbishop Sylvester (Haruns)"

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'''Archbishop Sylvester (Haruns) of Montréal and Canada (1914-2000)'''
 
'''Archbishop Sylvester (Haruns) of Montréal and Canada (1914-2000)'''
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Upon completing his secondary education, Ivan Antonovitch wished to study at the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Sergius_Orthodox_Theological_Institute Saint Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute] in [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris Paris], [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/France France], in order to prepare himself for ecclesiastical service. However, his parents were opposed to this, and they hoped that he would enrol at a local university instead. One year later, as his resolve had not waned, his parents blessed his departure for Paris. Ivan Haruns would never again see his homeland, or the members of his family — most of whom were to perish in the turmoil of the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_occupation_of_Latvia_in_1940 Soviet takeover of Latvia] (1940).
 
Upon completing his secondary education, Ivan Antonovitch wished to study at the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Sergius_Orthodox_Theological_Institute Saint Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute] in [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris Paris], [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/France France], in order to prepare himself for ecclesiastical service. However, his parents were opposed to this, and they hoped that he would enrol at a local university instead. One year later, as his resolve had not waned, his parents blessed his departure for Paris. Ivan Haruns would never again see his homeland, or the members of his family — most of whom were to perish in the turmoil of the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_occupation_of_Latvia_in_1940 Soviet takeover of Latvia] (1940).
  
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[[File:20170221 Archbishop Sylvester Haruns as student s.png]] '''Paris Student Ivan Antonovich'''
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After his graduation from the Saint Sergius Institute in 1938, Ivan A Haruns was tonsured to be a monk by [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eulogius_(Georgiyevsky) Metropolitan Evlogy (Georgievsky)], and he was given the name Sylvester. He was then ordained to the Holy Diaconate the following day, and to the Holy Priesthood the following month. After this, the Hieromonk Sylvester (Haruns) was assigned to serve in eastern France.
 
After his graduation from the Saint Sergius Institute in 1938, Ivan A Haruns was tonsured to be a monk by [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eulogius_(Georgiyevsky) Metropolitan Evlogy (Georgievsky)], and he was given the name Sylvester. He was then ordained to the Holy Diaconate the following day, and to the Holy Priesthood the following month. After this, the Hieromonk Sylvester (Haruns) was assigned to serve in eastern France.
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Archbishop Sylvester was interred at [http://www.archdiocese.ca/community/st-seraphims-russian-orthodox-cemetery-rawdon-qc Saint Seraphim’s Cemetery] in Rawdon, a beautiful place not far from Montréal that had been expanded and embellished through his tireless efforts.
 
Archbishop Sylvester was interred at [http://www.archdiocese.ca/community/st-seraphims-russian-orthodox-cemetery-rawdon-qc Saint Seraphim’s Cemetery] in Rawdon, a beautiful place not far from Montréal that had been expanded and embellished through his tireless efforts.
  
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[[File:20170221 Cimetiere orthodoxe Saint-Seraphim de Sarov de Rawdon s.jpg]]  '''Saint Seraphim Cemetery Rawdon'''
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[[File:Grave C S.jpg]] '''Grave of Archbishop Sylvester (Haruns) at Rawdon'''
  
  

Revision as of 21:18, 16 November 2017

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Archbishop Sylvester (Haruns) of Montréal and Canada (1914-2000)


Sylvester may be spelt Sylvestre, Sylvestr, Silvestr.


Ivan Antonovitch Haruns was born on 19 October (OS), 1914, in Dvinsk (Daugavpils), Latvia. After his primary education, he became involved in the Russian Student Christian Movement while in high school ("gymnasium"). Being inspired by lectures given by such luminaries as Father Sergius Chetverikov (who later reposed in Bratislava as a hieroschemamonk), he decided to devote his life to serving the Church.

Further education in Paris

Upon completing his secondary education, Ivan Antonovitch wished to study at the Saint Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris, France, in order to prepare himself for ecclesiastical service. However, his parents were opposed to this, and they hoped that he would enrol at a local university instead. One year later, as his resolve had not waned, his parents blessed his departure for Paris. Ivan Haruns would never again see his homeland, or the members of his family — most of whom were to perish in the turmoil of the Soviet takeover of Latvia (1940).


20170221 Archbishop Sylvester Haruns as student s.png Paris Student Ivan Antonovich


After his graduation from the Saint Sergius Institute in 1938, Ivan A Haruns was tonsured to be a monk by Metropolitan Evlogy (Georgievsky), and he was given the name Sylvester. He was then ordained to the Holy Diaconate the following day, and to the Holy Priesthood the following month. After this, the Hieromonk Sylvester (Haruns) was assigned to serve in eastern France.

Relief and chaplaincy work during the war

With the advent of World War II, he ministered to Orthodox servicemen in the French armed forces that were stationed in eastern France.

In 1941, the Germans began bringing thousands of Russians from the Soviet Union to northwestern France as prisoners to serve in labour camps. Father Sylvester felt a call to minister to them ; and, having obtained official permission from the authorities and the blessing of his bishop, he left his parish to devote himself completely to this service, which took him to many locations, under often difficult conditions. In 1944, he was falsely accused by a “brother” in the faith, and he was imprisoned by the Gestapo in solitary confinement for six weeks. After this time, his name was cleared during an investigation, and he was then released.

Pastoral, educational, administrative responsibilities

After the war, Father Sylvester was appointed to serve in a large parish in Paris, at which he developed an extensive education programme for youth. The parish became well known for its excellent church school. At this time, he also was assigned to be the head of the Missions Department of the Russian Orthodox Diocese in Western Europe and the Immigrant Aid Society.

He also served as co-editor, together with Father Alexander Schmemann, of the “Diocesan Herald" ("Vestnik"). When Father Schmemann left for America in 1951, Father Sylvester continued as the publication’s sole editor for another 5 years.

Throughout his life, Father (later Archbishop) Sylvester continued his involvement in the Russian Student Christian Movement, and in the post-war years, he was particularly active in work with the youth, especially in their education. Indeed, he had a devoted following amongst young people. After his ordination to the Holy Episcopate, he was affectionately nicknamed “Bishop of all the Youth”.

Episcopal ordination

His ordination to the Holy Episcopate as the Titular Bishop of Messina (within the West European Exarchate of the Patriarchate of Constantinople) by the Exarch, Metropolitan Vladimir (Tikhonitsky), together with Bishop Cassian (Bezobrazov), took place in 1952 at Saint Sergius’ Church, at the Saint Sergius Institute in Paris.

Initially, he was assigned to assist Metropolitan Vladimir in his administrative duties, with a particular focus on missionary work and diocesan publications.

Two years later, in 1954, he was transferred to Nice, and he was given the oversight of the parishes in the south of France and in Italy.

Emigration to Canada

Bishop Sylvester was initially invited to serve within the Church in North America in the late 1950s. However, his transfer and move across the ocean did not occur until 1963, when he was assigned to be the Bishop of Montréal and Canada within the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of North America (now The Orthodox Church in America).

In Montréal, Vladyka Sylvester was able quickly to complete the construction of a building adjacent to the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul for the purpose of housing the diocesan offices and to be his own residence.

Under his leadership, the interior of the cathedral was soon completely refurbished, including new beautiful iconography in a traditional style. Because of the great distances of his vast diocese, and because of the great lack of funds, he was not often able to visit remote communities ; but he frequently travelled to the major cities, and he strove to maintain a solid organisational structure in the far-flung Canadian Archdiocese.

From 1963-1979, he was the Chairman of the Russian Student Christian Movement, and he was actively involved in its publication efforts, especially the “Vestnik”, and the organisation’s support of dissidents in the Soviet Union.

In 1966, Bishop Sylvester was elevated to the dignity of archbishop.

About the effects of the arrival and presence of Vladyka Sylvester in the cathedral parish, Olga Lawes Melikoff wrote :

 A most fortunate arrival to our parish was that of Archbishop Sylvester in 1963, and during his “reign” we 
 experienced an era of peace and  stability.  He had an aura that commanded respect.  At first, rather shy and 
 retiring, one felt his inner strength.  He led by example rather than any sort of coercion.  Because of my 
 mother’s role in the parish, Vladyka soon became a friend of our family, both in Rawdon and in the city, and 
 was often our guest, at which times he shared his stories punctuated by his quiet sense of humour.  I never 
 remember him saying “You should do thus and so,” neither in his sermons nor in conversations, which is rather 
 amazing, considering his position.  Rather, he quietly and with great dignity officiated and preached the 
 gospel message, and further occupied himself with the administration of the church and his charities.  He led 
 by example.  Vladyka had a particular love of children, as well as young people, as exemplified by treating 
 his altar boys to a pizza lunch once a year.  He paid much attention to Christmas celebrations, trimming the 
 tree in the church hall by himself and, over the course of the year, buying presents for all the parishioners. 
 Eventually volunteers helped him in this task.
 
 Vladyka was especially interested in the spiritual problems of Russians in the U.S.S.R. and corresponded with 
 spiritual leaders there and sent them religious books.  This activity led to the expansion of the John of 
 Krondstadt Charity Fund as parishioners were encouraged to participate.   We would meet around Vladyka’s table 
 after church to discuss what he was doing and what could further be done.  When it became possible to send 
 parcels to the U.S.S.R., goods started to replace books, and members dug in to help prepare parcels. Two 
 parishioners, namely Ludmila Kruchinina and Natalia Iliesco, almost single-handedly, collected, packed, and 
 prepared for sending tons of clothing and toys for Russia.  These were sent off with the cooperation of 
 Aeroflot and the help of Vladimir Slivitzky, a Vice-President of Air Canada and a distinguished member of our 
 parish.  More recently, money has replaced the sending of goods at the request of the recipients.  After 
 Vladyka had to leave his post and retire to Rawdon for health reasons, where he subsequently died in 2000. 
 Marina Kartashov ably continued his Charity Fund, and now it has passed into the hands of Galina Mikoutskaia-
 Tomberg, a member of our newest wave of newcomers from Russia.  Money is send twice a year directly to special 
 priests for distribution to the needy, and especially to orphans.


More responsibilities

From 1966-1972, Vladyka served additionally as the Administrator of the Diocese of New England of the OCA.

Further, Archbishop Sylvester served for many years as the Chairman of the Preconciliar Commission, and the Chairman of the Department of History and Archives. Then, when the OCA accepted several parish communities in Australia under its omophor, Archbishop Sylvester was assigned to oversee them from 1972-1981. He made several pastoral trips to Australia to nourish the flock there spiritually.

In the late 1960s, the Church in North America began negotiations with the Moscow Patriarchate, which led to the granting of autocephaly to The Orthodox Church in America. This caused much controversy and conflict in the life of the Church. This was because of the complications of the past decades, political fears, and the difficulties that people generally have with forgiving.

On 7 April, 1968, Bishop Joasaph (Antoniuk) was ordained to the Holy Episcopate in order to serve as the Vicar-Bishop to Archbishop Sylvester. He moved at first to Edmonton, Alberta, where he served in the Temple of All Saints, and also in the rural parishes to the northeast. Later in 1968, one of the main older parishes, the parish of the Dormition of the Theotokos at Shandro, Alberta, was the host to an official assembly of the Archdiocese of Canada. This assembly was attended by Metropolitan Ireney (Bekish) of New York, and by the Archpriest Alexander Schememann, the dean of Saint Vladimir's Seminary in New York.

Archbishop Sylvester was able to pacify inflamed passions and to clarify numerous misunderstandings amongst the clergy and the faithful regarding the meaning and implications of autocephaly. He considered that autocephaly was the correct canonical structure for Church life in North America. The autocephaly was granted to the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in North America by the Russian Orthodox Church on 31 March, 1970. The name of the North American Church was changed to The Orthodox Church in America.

Archbishop Sylvester maintained a lively correspondence with Alexander Solzhenitsyn after his expulsion from the Soviet Union, and Vladyka was pleased to host him at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Montréal for paschal services in the mid-1970s.

In 1974, Archbishop Sylvester was assigned to be the Temporary Administrator of The Orthodox Church in America, in order to assist the ailing Primate, Metropolitan Ireney (Bekish). In this position, he ably fulfilled many primatial functions until October of 1977, when Metropolitan Ireney retired, and when, at the 5th All-American Council, Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor) was chosen to succeed him. This council was convened in Montréal at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul.

Archbishop Sylvester was then appointed to be the Vice Chairman of the Holy Synod, a position which he held until his retirement from active episcopal service. With the turbulent changes taking place in society and in Church life, and with a new generation of hierarchs and clergy assuming leadership positions, Archbishop Sylvester decided that it would be best for him to relinquish his hierarchical responsibilities.

Retirement

Vladyka Sylvester retired on 1 July, 1981. For many years thereafter, he continued to serve as the Rector and Pastor of the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Montréal, and as Pastor of Saint Seraphim’s Church in Rawdon, Québec. He especially rejoiced at the arrival of new immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and they flocked to him for spiritual nourishment. As weakness and illness overtook him in the last couple of years of his life, he eventually became unable to serve any longer, which caused him great anguish.

Archbishop Sylvester was a quiet, shy and reserved man. Some mis-perceived him as being aloof.

He did not like to engage in frivolous conversation, but he always spoke intelligently, and with a sharp sense of humour. He was an articulate public speaker, and his sermons were inspiring to many. He was a popular father-confessor, and he had a legion of spiritual children both in Europe and North America. He lived meagrely and demanded little for his own material comfort. He was approachable, sought-out and beloved by many for his wise and kind spiritual counsels. He was always generous in helping those in need. Within the Archdiocese of Canada, he organised extensive charitable aid for the needy in many parts of the world. He would surreptitiously send Orthodox literature to Russia, and he quietly provided assistance to the families of those who were imprisoned for their religious beliefs. He loved literature, and he had a great knowledge of culture and history.

Combined with the firm grounding in Orthodox theology and spirituality that he had received from his illustrious professors at the time of the most productive period of the Saint Sergius Institute, this knowledge gave him a broad and intelligent world view. While he might be characterised as profoundly traditional, his traditionalism was not a closed-minded fanatical conservatism. He loved the Church’s liturgical services, and he celebrated them with great dignity. He was a firm proponent of the frequent receiving of Holy Communion by the laity. He was also open to the use of liturgical languages other than Slavonic in the services (such as English and French). Above all, Archbishop Sylvester was a faithful and loving arch-pastor, firmly adhering to the teachings of Christ. He was a also a true monastic in his personal piety.

In 1994, Archbishop Sylvester requested that Bishop Seraphim (Storheim) bless his retirement from active pastoral service in the cathedral parish for health reasons. This was blessed. He remained in his apartment at the cathedral and he attended the services in the cathedral and in Rawdon in accordance with his strength.

Repose

Archbishop Sylvester reposed in Christ in Rawdon, Québec on 18 May, 2000. He had received Holy Communion and was anointed just 2 days before his repose. According to his wishes, his funeral was served according to the rite for monastics at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Montréal. Bishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada concelebrated the funeral with 10 priests.

Because of the visit of Metropolitan Sawa (Hrycuniak) of Poland to the USA at the same time, Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor) was unable to travel to Canada to preside at the funeral services. He was represented by Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick, who was at that time the Chancellor of the OCA.

Archbishop Sylvester was interred at Saint Seraphim’s Cemetery in Rawdon, a beautiful place not far from Montréal that had been expanded and embellished through his tireless efforts.


20170221 Cimetiere orthodoxe Saint-Seraphim de Sarov de Rawdon s.jpg Saint Seraphim Cemetery Rawdon


Grave C S.jpg Grave of Archbishop Sylvester (Haruns) at Rawdon


— Titular Bishop of Messina, Vicar-Bishop of the Exarchate of Western Europe (Ecumenical Patriarchate) 1952-1963.

— Archbishop of Montréal and Canada (OCA) 1963-1981. Preceded by : Bishop Anatoly (Apostolov). Succeeded by : Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor).

— Temporary Administrator of the Diocese of New England (OCA) 1966-1972.

— Temporary Administrator of the OCA 1974-1977.



References :

(Most of this information was provided by the OCA Archivist Alexis Liberovsky.)

Archdiocese of Canada — Orthodox Church in America, “The Orthodox Church in Canada : A Chronology” (Ottawa : Archdiocese of Canada, 1988).

Orthodoxwiki biography


Additional information :

Biography, "Canadian Orthodox Messenger" (Spring, 1991) p. 5

Obituary, "Canadian Orthodox Messenger" (Autumn, 2000) pp. 1-6

OCA biography

Russians of Latvia

Blog article

Zoominfo biography

History of Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Sobor, Montréal Québec