Russian Orthodox Church Abroad turns new page

The new leader of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad has been appointed, almost two months after the death of the previous head, Metropolitan Laurus. For the first time, the metropolitan sent a letter to Russian Patriarch Aleksy II asking him to confirm h

 Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney, Australia, and New Zealand received unanimous support from the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad for the position, a post he describes as one of great responsibility.

The Canadian-born Hilarion is of Ukrainian decent. Joining the Holy Trinity Monastery at nineteen years old, he was elevated to the priesthood a decade later by his predecessor the late Metropolitan Laurus.

The spiritual leaders shared a close relationship for decades.

Officials believe Laurus' historical legacy of helping to reconcile the Russian Orthodox Christians at home and abroad will continue under Hilarion.

In June, Hilarion and his bishops will make their first appearance at the Archbishop Council, hosted by the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate. Two faithful groups divided for so many decades will, once again, take a seat at the same table.

On Saturday a special ceremony will take place inside this church as Archbishop Hilarion officially assumes his new position. Then, on Sunday, for the very first time, he will address Russian Orthodox Christians as Metropolitan Hilarion.