The greatest service in the Church of God is the episcopal service. The bishops’ task is to continue to deliver Christ’s message to the world. In his efforts, a bishop must emulate our Lord Himself, Jesus Christ, Who said to His disciples: “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you” (John 20:21). But despite the loftiness of the episcopal service, the path of an archpastor is unusually difficult. The great hierarch and universal teacher St John Chrysostom said “A bishop struggles no less than a thousand martyrs.” Thus, in 1992, was the Director of SS Cyrill and Methodius High School, Hegumen Kyrill (Dmitrieff), Rector of Resurrection Church, was summoned to this service at the Cathedral of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” in San Francisco.
The consecration was scheduled for June 7, 1992, the Seventh Sunday of Pascha, the feast day of the I Ecumenical Council, which fell on the day of the Translation of the Head of John the Baptist. A multitude of believers from throughout the Western American Diocese (some 500 worshipers) gathered in San Francisco to prayerfully support their new vicar bishop, attending the episcopal consecration in the new cathedral.
During all-night vigil on the eve of that day, Metropolitan Vitaly of Eastern America and New York, Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco and Western America, Archbishop Laurus of Syracuse and Holy Trinity Monastery and Bishop Hilarion of Manhattan performed the rite of nomination to the episcopate. They had first prayed before the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign” and an ancient icon of the Ascension of the Lord. After a short moleben to the Holy Spirit, the newly-nominated candidate read a sermon in which he stressed that the war continues against the enemy of mankind—the devil. Fr Kyrill then venerated the cross and was sprinkled with holy water, and the cathedral’s Protodeacon Nicholas Porshnikov, who as a child held the episcopal staff of the renowned Metropolitan Nestor (Anisimov) of Harbin, China, and ordained to the deaconate by St John (Maximovich) in 1963, intoned Many Years with a booming voice.
Everyone in attendance sensed the spiritual elevation of that vigil service in the grandiose cathedral, and as the recently-reposed Protopresbyter Konstantin Tivetsky said, everyone wished to exclaim “Christ is Risen!” The Cathedral Choir sang piously under the direction of Vladimir Vadimovich Krassovsky. A male choir also sang, consisting primarily of clergymen.
On Sunday, June 7, at 9 am, the Helmsman of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, His Eminence Metropolitan Vitaly, was greeted at the cathedral. After he was vested and the hours were read, the rite of confession was performed. Protoprebyter John Shachneff, who had embarked upon his own clerical career in the 1930’s, in Harbin (who died in 1995), and Protodeacon Nicholas (who departed into eternity in 2004), led the nominee to a large orletz [round episcopal rug] placed before the assembly of bishops who had participated in the nomination. During Divine Liturgy, as Holy God was being sung, the grand rite of the episcopal consecration took place. After the Eucharistic canon, the newly-consecrated Bishop Kyrill of Seattle, Vicar of the Western American Diocese, ordained then-student and Subdeacon Andrei Sommer to the deaconate. (Fr Andrei now does a great deal of work in youth ministry with the Synod of Bishops.) Handing the episcopal staff to the new bishop, Metropolitan Vitaly delivered a speech of encouragement, in which he called upon Vladyka Kyrill to fulfill the legacy of St Seraphim of Sarov, that great spiritual lantern of the Russian land, in his episcopal service “Obtain the spirit of wisdom, and a thousand around you will be saved.”
After Divine Liturgy, everyone was invited to a festive trapeza feast organized by the Cathedral Warden Mr. E Khrapov, the parish council and sisterhood, headed by the late Mrs N Bogdanova. In his speech during the feast, Ruling Archbishop Anthony noted that this day repeated the holy feast of the Pentecost. Metropolitan Vitaly then addressed the audience with a sermon in which he noted that Russians always viewed power as a cross to bear, or as martyrdom, and that is why all who saw the Tsar would make a prostration before him. In the West, power was always viewed differently, power was seized, primarily through the worshop of Mammon. In conclusion, His Eminence wished the new bishop Divine assistance in the bearing of his cross.
Galina Pavlovna Konstantinova, for many years a singer in the Cathedral Choir, delivered a congratulatory message to Vladyka Kyrill from the faculty of SS Cyrill and Methodius High School, and gave the new bishop an icon of the brother saints, Equal-to-the-Apostles. Mr Krassovsky also congratulated Vladyka Kyrill on behalf of his choir and gave him an icon of John the Baptist. In his response, Vladyka Kyrill expressed his profound gratitude to the archpastors, clergymen and everyone in attendance. Thus the historic day in the life of the Western American Diocese came to an end.
The next day, June 8, when the Church commemorates the feast day of Apostles Carpus and Alphaeus, Vladyka Kyrill celebrated his first Liturgy as an archpastor together with a host of clergymen of the diocese.
Today, the twentieth anniversary of His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill receiving the grace of episcopacy, we wish him good health, boldness and the unfaltering help of God in his burdensome labors. May his archpastoral staff ever aid and console all those who appeal to him!