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First Hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

The following brief biographies are based on material in Mitred Archpriest Michael Protopopov's book, A Russian Prescence: A History of the Russian Orthodox Church in Australia (Piscataway, New Jersey: Gorgias Press, 2006).  Additional material has been incorporated by the editor of our website.

Metropolitan Philaret (Vosnesensky) (+1985)

George Vosnesensky, the future Metropolitan Philaret, was born in Kursk, Russia, on 22 March 1903.  His parents were Archpriest Nikolai and Matushka Lydia Vosnesenksy.  During his childhood they moved to Siberia and then, following the defeat of the White Army, in 1920 the Vosnesensky family entered Manchuria and settled in Harbin, China.  After graduating from the Harbin Polytechnic Institute with qualifications in electrical engineering, the young George studied theology and was ordained a celibate deacon on 18 May 1931.  He was ordained priest on 4 January 1932, and shortly afterwards was tonsured with the name Philaret.  In 1934 Archpriest Nikolai, by then a widower, was tonsured with the name Dimitry and consecrated Bishop of Hailar.  Hieromonk Philaret was raised to the rank of abbot that year and then, in 1937, to the rank of archimandrite.  He served in the Harbin Diocese for over thirty years, during which time he was known for his kindness, his attention to youth, and his pastoral zeal.  For his steadfast opposition to communism he endured much from the Soviet and Chinese authorities but grew ever firmer in his defence of Orthodoxy.  After moving to Australia in 1962, in May 1963 he was consecrated Bishop of Brisbane at the Diocesan Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Strathfield, NSW.  Less than twelve months after his consecration to the episcopate he was chosen to be the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and elevated to the rank of Metropolitan.  A pillar of Orthodoxy in turbulent times, he stood firm in the face of the social and moral upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s and resisted all eccelesiological and doctrinal compromise.  During his primacy the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia glorified Saint John of Kronstadt (1965), Blessed Xenia of Saint Petersburg (1978), and the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia (1981).  He served as First Hierarch for twenty-one years, reposing on 21 November 1985.  His final message to the faithful, found in his typewriter after his repose, was “Hold fast to what you have” (Revelation 3:11).  In November 1998 his relics were found to be incorrupt.  In 2012 the Eastern American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia established a committee to consider his glorification.

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