What do you know! One of the newspapers in a region linked to the story of the monk formerly known as Jonah Paffhausen has noticed that he was raised — 12 whole days after being consecrated as an auxiliary bishop in Dallas — to the position of metropolitan (think archbishop) of the scandal-torn Orthodox Church in America.
It’s interesting that you can read about this story in Moscow, because of the OCA’s Russian roots, but not in some local places here in the United States.
No sign of coverage yet in Dallas, Washington, D.C., where he will be enthroned, or Chicago, the original hometown of the former Episcopalian who is now Metropolitan Jonah. But the Mercury News has stepped up to the plate with a story in Santa Cruz, Calif. Here’s the opening of the story from reporter J.M. Brown:
SANTA CRUZ – A UC Santa Cruz graduate has been named archbishop of the Orthodox Church in America and Canada.
Bishop Jonah Paffhausen, who graduated from UCSC after founding an Orthodox Christian Fellowship on campus, was named Wednesday to the top post at the 15th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh. … Longtime friends from Santa Cruz County said the 49-year-old bishop has the ability and humility to serve the entire church, which means ironing out a well-publicized financial scandal involving misuse of church funds and bridging gaps between various sectors of the orthodox faith, including the Greek, Arab and Russian Orthodox churches.
“His election points to a very strong determination to change the way things have been done in the past,” the Rev. Mel Webber, the pastor of Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church in Santa Cruz for 11 years, said in a phone interview from Pittsburgh Thursday. “He’s got the skills to become one of the most enlightened leaders this church has seen in a long time.”
There’s some strange things in there — like the small “o” on the front of “orthodoxy” in some cases and the proper big “O” in others. I also think that it’s kind of interesting and, frankly, a nice sign of this monk’s ties to wider Orthodoxy that this veteran Greek priest traveled to Pittsburgh for this OCA meeting. Someone must have had a hunch and seen potential in this bright young man (49 is young for a bishop, let alone an archbishop).
There’s one other reference in this piece that Orthodox readers will find interesting and a bit strange, in terms of the wording:
After growing up in the San Diego suburb of La Jolla, the Chicago native was first received into the Russian Orthodox Church in San Diego in 1979. After fully converting to orthodoxy following a talk at UCSC by orthodox icon Seraphim Rose, friends said Paffhausen had long tried to open a monastery in Santa Cruz, but could not find the right location. …
Paffhausen, whose official title will be archbishop of Washington and New York and Metropolitan of All America and Canada, earned two degrees from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York before working on his Ph.D. at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. He took a break during those studies to work in Russia, where he later joined Valaam Monastery and became a monk.
Well now. Someone the reporter interviewed probably said that Father Seraphim Rose has become “like an icon” for many Orthodox in America, but he has not been formally canonized.
Still, there’s lots of interesting information in this story. The key is that the story was published in the first place. Someone spotted the regional angle in this remarkable national-level story. Good for them.