Diocesan Mission and History


The Mission of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese is to honor and glorify Almighty God; to foster love for the Saviour of mankind, Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and to continue the redemptive and life-giving work of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ amongst all peoples living in North America.  

Building on the strong foundation of the faith and piety of  its Carpatho-Rusyn ancestors in the faith, The American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese is committed to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with all who seek to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, in accordance with the doctrine, discipline, canons and rites of the Holy Orthodox Church.

The clergy and faithful of the diocese labor to fulfill this mission on a daily basis through their active participation in the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church, and  by supporting and assisting the various educational, outreach and philanthropic ministries of the diocese.


Metropolitan Orestes
Metropolitan Orestes Chornock Arrives in NYC  After Consecration as Bishop (1938)

 In July 1935, 37 parishes who were in opposition to latinization attempts by the Roman Catholic Church petitioned that a Church Congress be called to decide the future of Carpatho-Russian Churches in the United States. The first Diocesan Council-Sobor was called in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on November 23, 1937 by Father Orestes P. Chornock who was appointed administrator of the Diocese being formed. The Sobor abrogated the 300-year old "Unia" and returned the Carpatho-Russian people to the ancestral Orthodox Faith. The clergy at this Sobor elected the Rt. Rev. Orestes P. Chornock as the Bishop-Nominee of the new Diocese.

The Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church prior to the "Unia" was under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Because Carpatho-Russians received Christianity from Saints Cyril and Methodius from Constantinople, and because the Patriarch of Constantinople held canonical jurisdiction over all new churches in the diaspora, the First Diocesan Sobor decided to petition the Ecumenical Patriarchate to accept the Carpatho-Russians into Orthodoxy and canonically establish a new Diocese.

Metropolitan Orestes (Chornock)

The Ecumenical Patriarch accepted the petition and received the Carpatho-Russian Church into Orthodoxy as a self-governing Diocese. On September 19, 1938, the Diocese was canonized by Patriarch Benjamin I, of thrice-blessed memory, in the name of "The Holy Orthodox Church in Christ" under Patriarchal Decree number 1379. This was the first Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church since the infamous Papal Unia. Father Orestes P. Chornock was consecrated the day prior, September 18, as bishop of the Diocese.

The Carpatho-Russian Youth Organization was founded during the first year of the new Bishop's administration. In 1946, the official newspaper of the Diocese, "The Church Messenger," was established and continues to print a bi-weekly paper to this day. The American Carpatho-Russian Youth (A.C.R.Y.) was re-organized in 1947.

Christ the Saviour Cathedral was established and incorporated in 1950, thus making Johnstown, Pennsylvania the seat of the Diocese. In 1951, Christ the Saviour Seminary was permanently relocated to Johnstown. Students formerly were taught in temporary quarters located in New York City, Nicholson, PA and Bridgeport, Connecticut.

During the ensuing years, many achievements were realized and once the Diocese was stable and growing, Bishop Orestes began to seek a bishop to assist him in his responsibilities. The Ecumenical Patriarchate elected and appointed Bishop Peter (Shymansky) as auxiliary bishop in 1963. Shortly after his consecration he became ill and after serving only 6 months he reposed in the Lord on May 17, 1964.

On January 1, 1966 at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in New York, Bishop Orestes was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan.

Bishop John R. Martin
Bishop John (Martin)

On August 16, 1966, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate appointed and elected Bishop John (Martin) as auxiliary to His Eminence, Metropolitan Orestes. Bishop John was consecrated in Christ the Saviour Cathedral on October 6. During his episcopacy, the new Bishop revamped numerous aspects of diocesan administration. An English Liturgy book for the pews was published. The Seminary curriculum was revised. Three new mission parishes were established. A clergy pension fund was established. The Distinguished Diocesan Donors giving program was inaugurated, which eventually led to the building of a camp and retreat center named Camp Nazareth located in Mercer County, Pennsylvania and completed in 1977.

On February 17, 1977, His Eminence, Metropolitan Orestes reposed in the Lord, and the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate appointed Bishop John as Ruling Bishop of the Diocese.

In 1978, a monastic community for men was established at the Monastery of the Annunciation in Tuxedo, Park, New York.

On September 30, 1984, Bishop John died unexpectedly and was buried on October 4 with Archbishop Iakovos presiding.

The clergy of the Diocese nominated Bishop Nicholas (Smisko) as their new hierarch. Bishop Nicholas was consecrated as bishop on March 13, 1983 for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The Holy Synod elected Bishop Nicholas as the Ruling Bishop of the Diocese on March 20, 1985. On April 19 he was enthroned by Archbishop Iakovos. Bishop Nicholas immediately sought to improve relations with Carpatho-Russian Orthodox in Europe. He gave a great deal of attention to liturgical matters and published a new prayer book entitled "Come to Me" which since has sold thousands of copies. A Diaconate program has graduated some 25 deacons in the last several years. Bishop Nicholas was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan in 1998.

Metropolitan Nicholas
Metropolitan Nicholas (Smisko)

His Eminence has led several Pilgrimages of faithful to the Holy Land and to Europe, notably the 1988 Pilgrimage that celebrated the Millenium in Russia. His Eminence initiated a Pro-Life movement in the Diocese, leading faithful to Washington, DC for the annual "March for Life" since 1987.

The Seminary curriculum was revamped and an "Annual Giving Appeal" for the theological school was initiated. The Diocesan newspaper, "The Church Messenger," was consolidated in Johnstown. Five new parishes were received. The Diocese celebrated its Golden Jubilee of Canonical Establishment in 1988 amidst thousands of faithful, numerous bishops and representatives of the Patriarch of Constantinople, including His Eminence, Archbishop Iakovos.

A bold program of missions and evangelization was begun in 1992 and is known as "Harvest 2000." Missions have been established in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Ontario, Canada.

Recognizing the need  for larger, modern chancery facilities, a new Chancery building  for the Diocese was constructed, adjoining the present Episcopal Residence. Ground was broken for the edifice in June 1997 by His Eminence, Archbishop Spyridon, while the cornerstone was dedicated by His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew during his historic visit to the Diocese on November 16, 1997.

The diocese entered a new era by establishing a presence on the world wide web, through the establishment in the year 2000 of  a diocesan website at  www.acrod.org.  Fr. Paul Stoll was appointed  the first diocesan webmaster.

Under the leadership of Metropolitan Nicholas, a staff lodge and additional cabins for campers were constructed. In addition, a Carpathian-style wooden church was constructed on the Camp grounds to serve as a memorial to our ancestors and an inspiration to our youth.  The new church, which was placed under the  patronage of  the evangelizers of the Slavs, Saints Cyril and Methodius, was consecrated in August of 2003. A heritage museum is planned for the basement of the church.

In anticipation of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of Camp Nazareth, many renovations and improvements were made to the camp facilities, including the refurbishing of the interior of the cabins, repainting of the exterior of all buildings,  the remodeling of the kitchen, repairs to the swimming pool and the erection of new welcome signs.

In August of 2005 at the annual summer pilgrimage at Camp Nazareth, with the Blessing of His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I,  His Eminence announced the establishment of a new annual celebration of the glorification of All Saints of Carpatho-Rus, to be held on the second Sunday after Pentecost.

In September of  2005,  a new diocesan-wide youth ministry was established by Metropolitan Nicholas to more effectively meet the spiritual needs of our diocesan youth. Known as The Diocesan Apostolate for Youth,  this apostolic ministry has labored for the strengthening and evangelization of the youth of  the  Diocese and the establishment of a Christian witness for any youth seeking a relationship with Christ.  The primary activity of the Youth Apostolate has been to provide a catalyst for youth activity.  To date, two projects have been initiated and firmly established in the life of the American Carpatho-Russian Diocese -- the establishment of a youth-oriented publication known as Daylight and the Annual Summer Pilgrimage at Camp Nazareth as well as several regional pilgrimages held each year. 

In 2007,  the diocese joined the Ecumenical Patriarchate in  honoring the 1600th Anniversary of the repose of St. John Chrysostom.  This celebration was marked with special deanery and diocesan-wide celebrations, educational symposia and special programming at the annual Altarboy Retreat, summer camping program, and the Fall educational conference at Camp Nazareth.

The year 2008 marked the seventieth anniversary of the canonical establishment of the Diocese, the celebration of the 2000th anniversary of the conversion of the Holy Apostle Paul, and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the consecration of His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas to the Episcopacy.   The diocese honored these milestones in the life of the diocese and the Christian Faith with special liturgical commemorations, educational programs and celebrations.  In remembering the establishment of the diocese and the missionary labors of the Apostle Paul, clergy and laity alike were provided with an excellent opportunity to reflect on the  missionary nature of the Church.  Read A Reflection On The Seventieth Anniversary Of  The Diocese

Inspired by the missionary zeal of the Holy Apostle Paul and the founding fathers and mothers of the diocese, several new initiatives were set in motion to reinvigorate and enhance the apostolates and ministries of the diocese, including the complete redesign and expansion of the diocesan website, and the establishment of live broadcasting of liturgical services and educational symposia via the internet.

On March 13, 2011, the 28th anniversary of his consecration as Bishop, His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas, after a prolonged and courageous battle with cancer, fell asleep in the Lord. Funeral services were conducted  by His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of America at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Johnstown and at the Metropolitan's home parish of St. John the Baptist Church in Perth Amboy, NJ. He was laid to rest next to his parents at St. John's Parish Cemetary on Monday March 21, 2011.

Metropolitan Gregory (Tatsis)

On July 14, 2012, the clergy gathered in Special Assembly to nominate Archimandrite Grigorios (Gregory) Tatsis as successor to His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas.   Archimandrite Gregory was canonically elected Titular Bishop of Nyssa  and ruling Hierarch of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA by the Sacred and Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople on August 30, 2012.

His Grace, Bishop Gregory was consecrated to the Episcopacy on Tuesday November 27, 2012 on the feast day of St. Gregory of Nyssa  at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Johnstown, PA  by His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of America assisted by hierarchs of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.   

In July of 2013, in recognition of Metropolitan Gregory's experience in youth and young adult ministries, he was appointed by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA as Episcopal Liason to the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) Pan-Orthodox College Ministry. In 2016 he was elected Secretary of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA.

On August 29, 2018, Metropolitan Gregory was elevated to the rank of Titular Metropolitan of Nyssa by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

With the consecration and enthronement of His Eminence, Metropolitan Gregory of Nyssa, the fourth ruling Diocesan Hierarch, the Diocese has entered an exciting new chapter in its history, building on the strong foundation set in place by its founding members and venerable Hierarchs, +Metropolitan Orestes, +Metropolitan Nicholas and +Bishop John.

Having entered into a new chapter in the history of the Diocese, Under the leadership of His Eminence, Metropolitan Gregory, the clergy and faithful of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the 21st century are firmly committed to carrying out the great Commission of  our Lord,  to go therefore and make disciples of all the nations ....(Matthew 28:19) proclaiming the beauty and truth of  the Orthodox Christian Faith.


Diocesan Heritage Videos

The Above Videos Give An Excellent Overview of the Carpatho-Rusyn Immigration Experience in the Early 20th Century and the Dedication of Christ The Saviour Cathedral .

Special thanks  to Christ the Saviour Cathedral for granting permission to  use the Cathedral Dedication Video and St. Nicholas of Myra Orthodox Church, of NYC  for granting permission to include the Legacy of Faith Video. You may purchase a DVD of  The Legacy of Faith  at  Orthodox Goods.Com.

Further Reading

Glory to Jesus Christ - A History of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese - By Protopresbyter Lawrence Barriger

Good Victory -  By Protopresbyter Lawrence Barriger