His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH Enthroned as The First Bishop of the Diocese Los Angeles and the West - 09/14/2004
Los Angeles, California
During the Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Los Angeles, on September 12, 2004, His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP gave to His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH, the arch-pastoral staff, which heretofore he had carried as Auxiliary Bishop to the Metropolitan. Immediately after this, His Grace ascended the Episcopal throne of St. Nicholas Cathedral in Los Angeles as His Eminence prayed the prayer of enthronement. Having been enthroned as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West, His Grace’s homily spelled out his vision of increasingly effective evangelism with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and deepening pastoral care for all the faithful of the newly formed Diocese.
In October of 2003, the Holy Synod of Antioch joined His Beatitude, IGNATIUS IV, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, in granting to the Antiochian Christian Archdiocese of North America the status of Self-Rule. At the Special Convention of the Archdiocese in July of this year, the delegates unanimously approved the changes proposed for the Archdiocese Constitution which had been made to reflect our new Self-Rule status by the Chancellors, Charles Ajalat and Robert Koory. The delegates also confirmed the nomination of candidates from which the Local Synod will choose three new diocesan bishops for our Archdiocese.
“With the enthronement of our brother, Bishop JOSEPH,” said His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP, “we take the first step in applying our Self-Rule status. Thus, Bishop JOSEPH’s enthronement is truly an historic occasion.”
Soon to be followed by His Grace, Bishop BASIL’s enthronement on the Episcopal throne at St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas and the Bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, today’s milestone sets in motion the eventual enthronement of nine Diocesan Bishops in the nine Diocese that will constitute our God-protected Archdiocese.
Most of the clergy of the newly formed Diocese of Los Angeles and the West were in attendance at St. Nicholas Cathedral, coming from as far away as Alaska, Idaho and Arizona. The cathedral was filled to beyond its capacity with overflow seating with closed-circuit television coverage being projected on large screens in the nearby parish hall. Four chalices were assigned there for Communion. Joining the faithful of St. Nicholas Cathedral were many the faithful from neighboring Antiochian parishes of Southern California, the Board of Trustees and the Governing Council of the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch.
His Grace was honored by the presence of His Grace, Bishop BENJAMIN of the OCA, His Grace, Bishop SYRAPION, of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Los Angeles, and His Grace, Bishop Todd Brown of Orange, of the Roman Catholic Church. Along with them were many municipal and foreign dignitaries, including Farid Abboud, the Ambassador of Lebanon and Hazem Shehabi, the Consul General of Syria.
His Eminence took a few moments to put the glorious events of the day into concise, historical perspective. He underlined the profound historical significance of the events we experienced together. After presenting an exquisite engolpion (The Icon of the Theotokos a Bishop wears as the insignia of his office) to His Grace, His Eminence introduced him as the newly enthroned, first Bishop of Los Angeles and the West. Following a warm and enthusiastic welcome by all those present, His Grace spoke to us, again targeting Orthodox unity, the evangelism of North America by the Holy Orthodox Church and the care of God’s faithful in his remarks. The afternoon concluded as His Grace, Bishop BASIL of Wichita, brought his personal best wishes and best regards to His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH.
It was a long day, and it was a glorious one. History is always in the making and most events that end up in history books can be seen as such only in retrospect. Relatively few people can say that they knew they were living in a turning point of history, even as they were happening. This sentiment is summarized in the words familiar to the older among us who remember how Walter Cronkite used to conclude his first television documentary program, You Were There :
“What kind of a day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times, except...you were there!”
We were there when it happened. We were there when the Archdiocese took a bold step into the new era of our self-rule and the increasing possibility of the unity of the Holy Orthodox Church in North America.
By: Fr. Joseph Corrigan