His Grace, Bishop John (Martin)

Bishop John R. Martin 1966 Bishop John R. Martin (Circa 1966)

On January 5, 1931, His Grace, John R. Martin was born to John Martin and Veronica Mihach Martin.  A native of Pittsburgh, PA, he received his elementary education in Munhall, Pennsylvania, after which he entered Saint Fidelis Seminary and College in Herman, Pennsylvania.  He completed the six years' course of studies, graduating from junior college with highest honors.  He pursued his philosophical and theological studies at Saints Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh and was awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Duquesne University where he was a Dean's List student.  Father John Martin was ordained in the Byzantine Catholic Metropolia of Pittsburgh to the Holy Priesthood on May 29, 1955.  Following parish assignments, he pursued graduate studies in philosophy at Stanford University in California.

In 1966, Father Martin was received into the Orthodox Church.  He was elected to the episcopacy by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on August 15, 1966, and appointed Titular Bishop of Nyssa and Auxiliary to His Eminence, Metropolitan Orestes by His All-Holiness, Athenagoras I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.  Bishop John was consecrated to the episcopacy on October 6, 1966 in Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Johnstown, Pennsylvania with His Eminence, Archbishop Iakovos as principal consecrator.

Bishop John was an energetic worker and dynamic personality.  During his episcopacy, he distinguished himself as an administrator, educator and speaker.

Bishop John R. Martin - 1980
Bishop John (Circa 1980)

As an administrator, he assisted Metropolitan Orestes in the government of the Diocese which spanned an area from the Midwest to the East Coast with 60 parishes in 10 states at that time.  It is estimated that in the first five years of his episcopacy, he traveled 125,000 miles throughout the Diocese making pastoral visits to the parishes.  He served as Rector of Christ the Saviour Seminary where he restructured both the curriculum and operational apparatus of the seminary.

As an educator, he served as seminary professor of philosophy and psychology, fields of academic endeavor in which he specialized while pursuing graduate studies at Stanford University.  He lectured at colleges and universities, and taught philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh.

As a speaker, he won wide acclaim both by his style and for his message of relating with relevance the teachings of the Orthodox Church to the problems of the times.  He did extensive work in conducting spiritual retreats and missions for priests and lay groups.

After serving as diocesan hierarch for 18 years, Bishop Martin died unexpectedly on September 30, 1984, and was laid to rest near the Cathedral on October 4.

Highlights of Bishop John' s Episcopacy

  • Bishop John updated the administrative structure of the Diocese and enlarged and modernized the format of the Diocesan Newspaper, The Church Messenger.

  • He initiated the establishment of the Diocesan Priests' Pension Fund.

  • He activated the Diocesan Liturgical Commission and Music Commission.

  • He pursued the development of a camp and conference center which was eventually built on a 289 acre parcel of donated land in Mercer, Pennsylvania. He named the facility Camp Nazareth, and dedicated it in 1977.

  • In 1978, he was instrumental in hosting the first national conference of twenty Orthodox Bishops in America at Christ the Saviour Cathedral.

  • In 1978, he arranged for the purchase of a large estate in Tuxedo Park, New York for a diocesan monastery which was dedicated in 1979 with the name of Monastery of the Annunciation.

  • In 1982 he hosted an Orthodox-Lutheran convocation in Johnstown, welcomed Patriarch Diodoros of Jerusalem to the Cathedral, and established the Christ the Saviour Seminary Alumni Association.

  • In 1983, at his behest, three laymen of the Diocese were named the first Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, an honor which has expanded at present to 32 men honored with this distinction.

View Video Gallery Here