Lazar (Puhalo) of Ottawa

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Archbishop Lazar presenting a homily

His Eminence, the Most Reverend Lazar (Puhalo) of Ottawa, is a retired hierarch of the Orthodox Church in America, and founding abbot of the Monastery of All Saints of North America, Canada.

Prior to his reception into the OCA in 2002, Archbishop Lazar had served as a clergyman, in various ranks, in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, the Free Serbian Orthodox Church, the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece, the Holy Synod of Milan, and in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) - leading some to, perhaps misleadingly, describe him as a "contemporary episcopus vagans". Being part of the OCA has, however, normalised this status, and he remains a retired bishop of the Orthodox Church.

Archbishop Lazar is known for his prolific (and, at times, controversial) theological writings, particularly regarding his criticism of the Orthodox teaching of the Aerial Toll-Houses, and his positions on homosexuality and transgenderism. The Synod of Bishops of the OCA has forbidden him to speak on the subject of homosexuality in any way contrary to official position of the Church.[1]

Biographical timeline

In 1968, Visiting Mt Athos, Lev Puhalo and Vasili Novakshonoff discussed idea of founding a Canadian Orthodox monastery. Some monks on Mt Athos advise them not to delay. Struggle begins in a tiny hut with a dirt floor east of Rosedale, BC. Vasili continued employment at a library to finance both the monastery and missionary work.

  • 1969 ~Nov: Platform of scrap lumber built over half of the floor.
  • 1969-70: A damp and cold winter found the roof with many leaks, and the hut poorly constructed. Two sheets of plastic, stretched over a rope line, with a kerosene burner between them, became the first cells. Kitchen was on the dirt part of the hut, consisting of a Coleman stove and a tap with cold water.
  • Translations of books began, with the Life of St Theophil the Fool for Christ of the Kiev Caves, the Life of St Xenia of St Petersburg (published at Jordanville) and a significant portion of the History of Russian Imperial Coronations for the Russian Orthodox Youth Committee.
  • 1970: Symposium held by monastery at a local auditorium, entitled Forgotten Voices, Women in the Early Church.
  • 1972: Lev ordained to diaconate in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR).
  • 1973: Deacon Lev assigned to serve a parish in the United States.
Second monastery site, of better quality, is found south of Chilliwack, British Columbia.
Synaxis Press founded. Publication of the Canadian Orthodox Missionary began.
  • 1974: First edition of the Synaxis Theological Journal published.
Dcn Lev installed a pipeline, bringing cold water into the monastery from a spring on the mountain above the monastery bulding.
  • 1976: Deacon Lev returns to resume development of monastery. He travels a lot, lecturing and giving talks to youth. During this time he develops a sympathy for those Orthodox who lived away from a church. He often travelled as much as 10,000 miles on buses in a year for those who are isolated or those who request talks.
  • 1980: On December 2nd, 1980 n.s., Deacon Lev is ordered to cease lecturing in parishes on the subject of the toll houses[2] by the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, censing an icon of Fr. Seraphim (Rose)
  • 1981 Mar: In response to a 1980 request from a small group of Romanian Canadians who wished to worship in the monastery chapel, Bishop Ireney of New Gracanica (of the then schismatic Free Serbian Orthodox Church) ordains Deacon Lev to the priesthood for the newly-formed parish of St Tikhon and for the monastery, and tonsured him with the name Lazar. Later, Fr Lazar tonsures Vasili with the name Varlaam.

On November 24, 1981 n.s., He was suspended for disobeying his bishop, and on December 23rd, n.s. he was deposed because he had "disregarded the written admonition given him in writing and persists in his sin. Having cut himself off from his bishop, Lev Puhalo has violated a number of the canons of the Church: 15 of the Holy Apostles, 17 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council, 3 of the Council of Antioch, 15 and 16 of the Council of Sardis." Therefore, the Synod determined: "1.) To declare the monastic tonsure and priestly ordination of Lev Puhalo illicit and invalid... 2.) For breaking with his bishop and uncanonically receiving ordination from an uncanonical bishop, the Deacon Lev Puhalo is deposed from his clerical rank and returned to the lay state. 3.) Lev Puhalo must not be permitted to lecture in our parishes, and his publications should not be disseminated among us."

  • 1983: Fr Lazar offers to help a group of Serbs found a parish in Los Angeles, with services conducted in Church Slavonic and English.
  • At some point, Fr Lazar was called upon to help found St Sava Serbian Orthodox Seminary for the New Gracanica Metropolitanate. Metr. Ireney ordains Monk Varlaam to the priesthood to serve the parish. Fr Lazar stays there for three years.
  • 1984: The feast of the Theotokos, Joy of Canada was established when Metr. Ireney of New Gracanica presented the Monastery with a small icon of the Theotokos as a blessing.
  • 1985: The parish of St Nicholas, Langley, British Columbia, appealed to the monastery for help and for a priest, and so became the second English-language Orthodox parish in Western Canada.
  • Because of the unavailability of locally obtainable pure beeswax candles, Fr Varlaam built a small candle factory to produce hand-dipped, pure beeswax candles in the parishes and the monastery.
  • 1988: Fr. Lazar joins the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece and is raised to the status of archimandrite by Metropolitan Paisios of North and South America.
  • 1990: Archimandrite Lazar is received by the Holy Synod of Milan[3] and is consecrated as Bishop of Vancouver by Metropolitan Evlogios of Milan, Archbishop Gregorios of Turin, and Bishop Vigile of Paris.
  • 1991 Nov: After a search, the Monastery was able to acquire an illustrious property that the monastery rests on today. The property was named New Ostrog, and the candle factory was dedicated to the protection of St Vasili of Ostrog.
  • 1996: The monastery, without a canonical release, moved under the omophorion of the schismatic Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate). Patriarch Volodymyr (Romaniuk) elevated Bp Lazar to Archbishop, and consecrated Fr Varlaam as Bishop of Vancouver befor his death in 1995.
  • 1997: Holy Synod of Milan breaks communion with the Kyiv Patriarchate over questions concerning canonicity of Filaret (Denisenko)]. Abp Lazar joins with Kyiv Patriarchate over protests of his ordaining hierarch. Metr Evlogios of Milan calls Abp Lazar to repent.
  • 2002: In a "Repentant Declaration" addressed to the Holy Synod of the OCA, dated 10/21/2002, Archbishop Lazar stated "I wish to express my sincere regret and repentance for my years of involvement in Orthodox Church bodies outside the Canonical Orthodox Church. While my long involvement with schismatic bodies such as the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, the Greek Old Calendarist bodies and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev, was well-intentioned and motivated by a love of Orthodoxy, it was an error. I deeply regret this error and sincerely repent for it."
  • 2003: Monastery received into the Orthodox Church in America by oikonomia; Abp. Lazar received as a retired bishop with the title Archbishop of Ottawa. Although in retirement from active hierarchal duties, Archbishop Lazar currently serves the Orthodox Church in America as the Civil Liaison for the Archdiocese of Canada with the Government of Canada.
  • 2007: Abp Lazar and Bp Varlaam turn St Nicholas Canadian Orthodox Church in Langley over to the Archdiocese of Canada. Regular services established at the Canadian Orthodox Monastery of All Saints of North America.

Published works

  • The Creation and Fall, Dewdney, B.C.: Synaxis Press, 1986.
  • Culture, Commonweal, and Personhood, Dewdney, B.C.: Synaxis Press, 2011.
  • The Evidence of Things Not Seen, Dewdney, B.C.: Synaxis Press, 2007.
  • Freedom to Believe, Dewdney, B.C.: Synaxis Press, 2010.
  • The Icon as Scripture, Dewdney, B.C.: Synaxis Press, 2009.
  • The Impact of Byzantine Christian Thought On Medicine, Dewdney, B.C.: Synaxis Press, 2002.
  • Lives of Saints for Young People (12 vols.), Dewdney, B.C.: Synaxis Press, 1976.
  • Meleti: Spiritual Talks of Archbishop Lazar, Dewdney, B.C.: Synaxis Press.
  • The Most Holy Theotokos, Dewdney, B.C.: Synaxis Press, 1999.
  • The Mystery and Meaning of Gender and Human Sexuality, Dewdney, B.C.: Synaxis Press, 2010.
  • Not By Bread Alone: Sermons on Matthew, Dewdney, B.C.: Synaxis Press, 2011.
  • On Orthodox Christian Systematic Prayer, Dewdney, B.C.: Synaxis Press, 1999.
  • On the Neurobiology of Sin, Dewdney, B.C.: Synaxis Press, 2010.
  • The Soul, the Body, and Death, Dewdney, B.C.: Synaxis Press, 2010.
  • The Tale of Basil "the New" and the Theodora Myth: Study of a Gnostic Document and a General Survey of Gnosticism, Dewdney, B.C.: Synaxis Press 1999.
  • Thinking Theologically: "The Mystic and the Lawyer", Dewdney, B.C.: Synaxis Press.
  • Twelve Great Feast Days, Dewdney, B.C.: Synaxis Press.
  • Ye That Stand in the House of the Lord, Dewdney, B.C.: Synaxis Press, 2004.


External links

Succession box:
Lazar (Puhalo) of Ottawa
Preceded by:
Superior and Abbot of the Monastery of All Saints of North America
Succeeded by:
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