The Most Reverend
Dr NATHANIEL (Popp)
Archbishop of Detroit and
The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America
Consecrated November 15, 1980
Nameday April 22
Archbishop NATHANIEL was born in Aurora IL, on June 12, 1940, to a family of Romanian heritage (County of Satu Mare) who attended the Saint Michael the Archangel Romanian Greek-Catholic Church in Aurora.
Having gained from his experiences at Saint Michael's a desire to serve the Lord as a priest, he attended Saint Procopius College, a Benedictine-operated liberal arts school and "Pontifical Eastern Rite Center" in Lisle IL. Called to Rome, Italy, by the Romanian Byzantine Rite Catholic Bishop VASILE (Cristea), he studied at Gregorian University and resided at the Greek College of Saint Athanasius.
While there, the rituals, canons, and practical spiritual life of the Byzantine Rite were learned and lived with students from Greece, Lebanon, Syria, Calabria, and Sicily. He was also witness to the workings of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1966). During his stay in Europe, he visited extensively in Greece, Germany, Italy, and had the mysterious and powerful encounter of Mount Athos. His comment at this time was, "If only the monks were not Orthodox!" Actually, his first visit to an Orthodox church was at this time. The spirituality deeply moved him but the interior conflict of history and loyalty to the "Unia" made him keep Orthodoxy at a distance. It was on Mount Athos that one of the spiritual fathers "bestowed" on him his name of "Nathaniel."
Having completed his studies, he was ordained into the Holy Diaconate on July 17, 1966, at Colle de Tora, "San Anatolia" summer chapel of the "Collegio Greco" by Bishop Cristea, and on October 23, 1966, he was ordained into the Holy Priesthood in the Romanian Uniate Church "San Salvatore" in Coppele, Rome, by the same hierarch. In January of 1967, he returned home and was appointed Assistant Priest of his home parish, Saint Michael.
The spirituality, theology and call of Orthodoxy, which had been dormant, began to beckon and within a matter of months, he laid aside the Unia and sought entrance into the Orthodox Church. At this time, his practical knowledge of American ecclesiological realty was unknown to him. Having left the Aurora parish, he visited with classmates from Rome who had also embraced Orthodoxy and were serving in various "jurisdictions" in North America.
Through Fr Vasile Hategan of New York NY, then Cleveland OH, he was introduced to Archbishop VALERIAN (Trifa) who worked with him to be received into the ranks of the clergy of The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America (ROEA).
He fully embraced the Orthodox Faith in the Chapel of "The Nativity of the Birthgiver of God," Vatra Romaneasca, Grass Lake MI, in the presence of Archbishop VALERIAN on February 15, 1968. For several years, he resided in a small monastic community on the Vatra property until he was appointed rector of Holy Cross Church in Hermitage PA. An author of numerous articles, speaker, and lecturer, he also taught at the summer youth camps of the diocese.
He was Confessor to the Sisterhood of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery and was instrumental in the founding of an "Inter-Orthodox" Women's Association in the Hermitage area. In April 1978, he was one of two representatives of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) at the Conference on Monasticism in Cairo, Egypt.
He had been Spiritual Advisor to The American Romanian Orthodox Youth, an active member of the diocesan Liturgical Commission, Late Vocations Program, and Episcopate Council, and, among all these activities, he is also a painter of "icons on glass" (icoane pe sticla) in the Romanian peasant style and a collector of historical art and artifacts.
At the request of Archbishop VALERIAN for assistance in the administration of the expansive diocese, he was called to the Hierarchy by a Special Congress of The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate on September 20, 1980.
On the feast of the Transylvanian martyrs, Sofronie, Visarion, and Oprea, October 21, 1980, Father Popp professed the "angelic" vows (Little Schema) at the Vatra Chapel, taking the name of the Holy Apostle NATHANIEL. He was then elevated to the rank of Archimandrite. His Consecration to the Episcopacy took place at Saint George Cathedral in Southfield/Detroit MI, on November 15, 1980.
The Holy Liturgy and Consecration were officiated by Metropolitan THEODOSIUS, Primate of The Orthodox Church in America, assisted by Archbishop VALERIAN of Detroit and The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, Bishops KYRILL of Pittsburgh (OCA-Bulgarian), DMITRI of Dallas (OCA), CHRISTOPHER of the Eastern Serbian Diocese (Serbian Patriarchate), BORIS of Chicago (OCA), and MARK of Boston (OCA). He was installed the next day as Bishop of Dearborn Heights, with the Saints Peter & Paul Church there as his cathedral, and was named an Auxiliary Bishop for The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America.
He assisted the Archbishop in this capacity until 1984, when the latter retired and relocated to Portugal. On Sunday, November 17, 1984, Bishop NATHANIEL was enthroned at Saint George Cathedral as ruling Hierarch of The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America. Since then, he has overseen the tremendous growth and expansion of the diocese (39 new missions/parishes, a monastic community for women and a monastic community for men), carefully maintaining the Romanian tradition and integrating the many "newcomers" into American society, while at the same time recognizing the importance of a united Orthodox witness in this land. He has remained at the forefront of the movement toward a united Autocephalous American Church.
His Eminence is the Episcopal Moderator for the Pastoral Life Ministries Unit of The Orthodox Church in America, Chairman of the V D Trifa Romanian American Heritage Center in Grass Lake MI, organizer of the "Help for Romania Fund" and co-founder of "Help the Children of Romania" in 1990, Chairman of the Congress of Romanian American (CORA) since 1991, President of the Board of The Center for Orthodox Christian Studies in Detroit, and Spiritual Advisor for the Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL).
In 1994, desiring to fulfill the longing to visit Romania, Archbishop NATHANIEL made a pilgrimage to visit all parts of Romania. In 1995, at the invitation of His Beatitude Patriarch TEOCTIST, he was a guest of the Patriarchate for the festivities celebrating 110 years since the Autocephaly of the Church of Romania and 70 years since the establishment of a Romanian Patriarchate.
In May 2003, His Eminence traveled to Romania where he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Oradea in recognition of his leadership of the Romanian Orthodox community in North America and of humanitarian efforts in post-communist Romania.
Under his direction, the ROEA came to the aid of their brothers and sisters in Romania immediately after the fall of communism, and continue until this day to petition for their rights. These are also times when the ROEA resumed a relationship with the Church of Romania, with His Eminence working for a greater understanding between the two groups.
He has been an active member of the Synod of Bishops of The Orthodox Church in America since his Consecration, and has represented the OCA in numerous events both in North America and Europe. On Wednesday, October 20, 1999, in its Fall Session, the Holy Synod bestowed upon His Grace the elevation to Archbishop.
May our Lord and Savior continue to bless His Eminence, Archbishop NATHANIEL with good health, love and concern for his flock, and the vision of a greater Orthodox witness in North America.
Many Years, O Master! Intru Multi Ani, Stapane!
The Right Reverend
Bishop of Dearborn Heights and Auxiliary Bishop of The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America
Consecrated November 2, 2002
Nameday August 23
His Grace, Bishop IRINEU, was born on April 19, 1962, in Alba Iulia, Transylvania, Romania to John and Aurelia Duvlea, an Orthodox Christian family. His theological education includes the Theological Seminary in Cluj Napoca (1981-1987), Theological Institute "Andrei Saguna" in Sibiu (1987-1991), having as a thesis: "Rules of organization and function of monasteries in the Romanian Orthodox Church." Moved to enter the monastic life, in 1980 he entered the Brancoveanu Monastery at Sâmbata de Sus, Brasov County, continuing through all the steps of obedience. On May 24, 1983, he was tonsured into monasticism by His Grace, Bishop LUCIAN of Fagaras.
During his monastic life, His Grace was ordained into the various ranks of Holy Orders. On May 3, 1983, he was ordained Hierodeacon by His Eminence, Archbishop JOHN of Helsinki, Metropolitan of Finland, on behalf of His Eminence ANTONIE, Metropolitan of Transylvania, and, on November 17, 1984, ordained Hieromonk in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Sibiu by His Eminence ANTONIE.
He was blessed with the opportunity to make two pilgrimages to Mount Athos and, in 1998, a pilgrimage to the monasteries of Bulgaria and Greece and to the tomb of Saint Nicholas in Bari, Italy.
As evidence of his dedication and service, on August 15, 1988, he was blessed as Protosinghel by His Eminence ANTONIE; on January 1, 1993, named Hegumen of the Brancoveanu Monastery; in 1993 named Exarch of Monasteries in the Metropolia; on August 15, 1993, blessed as Archimandrite and Abbot of the monastery by His Eminence ANTONIE on the occasion of the consecration of the monastery by His Holiness, BARTHOLOMEW I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, and His Beatitude TEOCTIST, Patriarch of Romania, also at that time receiving the honor of the "Patriarchal Cross of Constantinople”; and on September 24, 2000, the Holy Synod of Romania bestowed upon him the rank of Mitred Archimandrite, a rare distinction in the Church of Romania.
During his time as Abbot of the Brancoveanu Monastery, he performed his duties as Exarch of Monasteries in the Metropolia (encompassing most of Transylvania), which included the regular supervision and regulation of 15 monasteries and 10 sketes, and was delegated by His Eminence ANTONIE to bless several monasteries and numerous monuments.
Following an exchange of letters between His Eminence ANTONIE and His Eminence NATHANIEL, Archbishop of Detroit and The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, Archimandrite Irineu and a group of monks were given canonical release to come to America and establish The Ascension of the Lord Monastery under the omofor of Archbishop NATHANIEL, with Archimandrite Irineu as Abbot, at the Saint Andrew House in Detroit, Michigan. Since their arrival on February 23, 2001, they worked to offer hospitality, comfort and spiritual care to not only the Romanian community but to the entire Orthodox population of Metropolitan Detroit and the Midwestern United States region.
Having been elected by the Congress of The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America (ROEA) in Special Session on June 28, 2002, the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of The Orthodox Church in America, under the presidency of His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN, confirmed the election of the Very Reverend Archimandrite Irineu to the episcopacy during its special session as part of the All-American Council on July 24, 2002.
Bishop IRINEU was consecrated to the episcopacy on Saturday, November 2, 2002, at Saint George the Great-Martyr Romanian Orthodox Cathedral in Southfield/Detroit, Michigan. Presiding at the event was His Beatitude HERMAN, Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of All America and Canada, along with His Eminence NATHANIEL; Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER (Serbian Patriarchate); Archbishops KYRILL (OCA) and NICOLAE (Romanian Patriarchate); Bishops SERAPHIM (OCA), DEMETRI (Antiochian Patriarchate) and NIKON (OCA).
Since his consecration, His Grace has overseen activities as requested of him by Archbishop NATHANIEL, traveling extensively throughout the country, especially visiting the numerous mission communities.
We look forward to many more blessed and prosperous years with His Grace.
Many Years, O Master! Intru Multi Ani, Stapâne!
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