(OCA-AK) - Faithful from parishes and villages across Alaska and the dioceses of the Orthodox Church in America began arriving early at the spacious Saint Innocent Cathedral here on the morning of Friday, February 21, 2014 for the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, during which Bishop-Elect David [Mahaffey] was consecrated to the episcopacy as Bishop of Sitka and Alaska.
Over forty priests and deacons joined His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin; His Grace, Bishop Michael; His Grace, Bishop Ireneu; and His Grace, Bishop Irénée in welcoming His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon at the cathedral entrance. Joining them were the Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, Archpriest John Jillions and the Chancellor of the Diocese of Alaska, Archpriest Victor Nick.
Also present were Bishop-Elect David’s children, their spouses, and his granddaughter.
At the outset of the Liturgy, Father Jillions and Archdeacon Kirill Sokolov brought Bishop-Elect David before Metropolitan Tikhon and the bishops, seated in the center of the cathedral, where he read the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, followed by a detailed explanation of the Church’s Trinitarian and Christological doctrines. He then read his personal commitment to uphold the Church’s canons and the teachings of the Holy Fathers and to preserve unity with his brother bishops.
Referencing 2 Timothy 2:24-25, Bishop-Elect David proclaimed, “I will deal with the opponents of the Holy Church reasonably, uprightly and gently, as taught by the Apostle Paul, ‘for the servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome, but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth.’ I promise to visit and watch over the flock which is now entrusted to me after the manner of the Apostles, so that they remain true to the Faith and true in the performance of good works. I will show special concern for the priests. I promise to inspect with diligence, to exhort and to restrain, in order that schisms, superstitions and unholy venerations and customs contrary to Christian teaching of piety and good morals may not arise or injure the Christian way of life.”
During the Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Tikhon placed the open Gospel Book over Bishop-Elect David’s head as all five consecrating bishops place their hands upon it. The Metropolitan then proclaimed, “By the election and approbation of all the Venerable Bishops of the Holy Synod, the Grace Divine, which always heals that which is infirm and fulfills that which is lacking through the Laying-on-of-Hands, elevates you, most belovèd of God, Archimandrite David, to be the Bishop of Sitka and Alaska, which enjoys the protection of Almighty God…. O Lord our God Who, in that it is impossible for the nature of man to endure the Essence of the Godhead, in Thy Providence hast provided for us teachers of like nature with ourselves to maintain Thine Altar, that they may offer to Thee sacrifice and oblations for all Thy People. O Lord, make this man also, who has been proclaimed a steward of the Episcopal Grace, to be an imitator of Thee, Who art the True Shepherd, Who laid down Thy Life for Thy sheep. Grant that he will be a leader of the blind, a light to those in darkness, a reprover of the unwise, a teacher of the young, a lamp to the world. Grant also that he, having perfected the souls entrusted to him in this present life, may stand unashamed before Thy Throne, and that he may receive the great reward which Thou hast prepared for those who have fought with valor for the preaching of the Gospel.”
During the Divine Liturgy, Bishop David ordained Deacon Symeon Askoak to the priesthood. Newly ordained Father Symeon is from the village of Russian Mission and will be completing his studies at Saint Herman Seminary in May.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Tikhon and the consecrating bishops, along with the clergy and faithful, venerated the Cross and greeted His Grace, Bishop David. The cathedral thundered with the singing of “Many years, O Master,” after which the clergy and faithful joyously sang traditional hymns in Yupik and Slavonic until everyone had the opportunity to receive Bishop David’s blessing and offer their personal congratulations.
Metropolitan Tikhon delivered the homily and offered an exhortation to Bishop David as he presented the newly consecrated bishop with the archpastoral staff. The texts of his homily and exhortation appear in their entirety here.
The Consecration Liturgy was streamed live on the OCA web site.
A photo gallery of the Divine Liturgy may be found on the OCA web site and Facebook page. Updates and additional galleries will be posted as they are received.