Nikolai (Soraich) of Sitka

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His Grace, the Right Reverend Nikolai (Soraich) of Sitka (Николај (Сорајић) in Serbian) is retired bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (since 2014). During 2002-2008 he was the bishop Bishop of Sitka, Anchorage and Alaska of the OCA.


Nikolaj born in Butte, Montana on April 9, 1949 to devout Serbian Orthodox parents, Nikola and Vera Grace [nee O’Billovich] Soraich. His parents, both deceased, were active all their lives in the Orthodox community in in Butte.

On December 24, 1949, he was baptized in Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church, which had been consecrated by Saint Tikhon in 1905, during his tenure as Archbishop of North America. Upon graduation from high school in 1967, he enrolled in Christ the Saviour Seminary, Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

On August 8, 1970, he was tonsured a monk of the Lesser Schema and given the monastic name Nikolai. The following day, he was ordained to the deaconate. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 4, 1972 at Saint Stevan Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, Alhambra, California.

After graduation from the seminary in 1972, Father Nikolai was sent to Billings, MT, where he organized Saint Elijah parish. In 1974, the parish’s new church building was consecrated. While residing in Montana, Father Nikolai worked in secular positions with the State of Montana as a juvenile parole officer from 1972 until 1976 and as assistant principal of Billings Central High School from 1976 until 1978. He also pursued graduate studies in Rehabilitation Counseling.

In 1978 and 1979, Father Nikolai pursued post graduate work in Theology at the Theological Faculty of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

Upon his return to America in 1979 he was sent to Las Vegas, NV, where he organized Saint Simeon Serbian Orthodox Church. In October 1983, the parish’s new church building and hall were blessed.

In 1988, Father Nikolai received a canonical release and was received into the ranks of clergy of the Orthodox Church in America. On November 13, 1988, he celebrated the first Divine Liturgy for the newly-founded Saint Paul the Apostle Mission. The parish hall was blessed in 1993 and the church was consecrated on May 13, 1995 by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius and His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of San Francisco and the West. At the consecration of the church, he was elevated to the dignity of Archimandrite. The community, which includes faithful of diverse backgrounds, grew rapidly and serves as an oasis in the desert for Orthodox Christians.

During most of Father Nikolai’s ministry he had worked to support himself in order to allow his parishes to build. For some ten years, he worked in juvenile justice as a parole and probation officer. He also worked as a counselor and ran an adolescent treatment program and, most recently, served as Director of the Family Support Division for the District Attorney’s office. In addition to his secular employment, he was appointed to the Diocese of the West’s Mission Board in 1989, and shortly thereafter was appointed the Chairman of the Board, succeeding Hieromonk Alexander (Golitzin). His activities on the diocesan level in missions and on the national level as a member of the OCA Missions Board and the Orthodox Christian Mission Center Board helped in facilitating the establishment of missions.

In 1994, Bishop Tikhon created the Las Vegas Mission Deanery and appointed Igumen Nikolai as the Dean. He served in this position for a very short time, as Bishop Tikhon appointed him Chancellor of the Diocese of the West in August 1994, a position which he held until his consecration.

Оn March 21, 2001 at the Spring Session of the OCA’s Holy Synod he was elected Bishop of Baltimore, Auxiliary to His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America.

His consecrated to the episcopacy on April 22, 2001 in Dallas, TX, in conjunction with the consecration of the recently constructed Saint Seraphim Cathedral by Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor), Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas and the South; His Eminence, Archbishop Herman of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania; His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate; and His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of San Francisco and the West[1].

His Grace, Bishop Nikolai of Baltimore, Auxiliary to Metropolitan Theodosius, began overseeing the life of the Diocese in June 2001 after the transfer of His Grace, Bishop Innocent to the auxiliary see of Hagerstown, MD[2].

On October 31, 2001 Eighty-two clergy and lay delegates from parishes of the Orthodox Church in America's Diocese of Alaska unanimously voted to nominate His Grace, Bishop Nikolai of Baltimore, as the candidate for the vacant episcopal see of Sitka and Alaska. At a special session of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, His Grace, Bishop Nikolai of Baltimore and Auxiliary to His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, was canonically elected to fill the vacant diocesan see of Sitka and Alaska.

Bishops Peter (ROCOR) and Nikolai (OCA) greet one another at an OCA episcopal consecration service in May 2005.

He was installed as the 18th ruling bishop of the Orthodox Church in America's Diocese of Sitka and Alaska on March 4 and 5, 2002 at the historic Archangel Michael Cathedral in Sitka, AK and resided in Anchorage, AK as diocesian bishop.

After various scandals and controversies within his diocese, he voluntarily stepped down as bishop in May of 2008.

On March 24, 2014 in response to a letter from the Hierarchical Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia dated January 13, 2014 and after much prayerful deliberation, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America has released His Grace, Bishop Nikolai (Soraich), Former Bishop of Sitka, from the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church in America to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. According to conditions outlined by ROCOR, Bishop Nikolai is released as a retired Bishop and will not have the right to participate in meetings of the ROCOR Hierarchical Synod and Sobor[3].


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Succession box:
Nikolai (Soraich) of Sitka
Preceded by:
see created
Bishop of Baltimore

Succeeded by:
Nikon (Liolin)
Preceded by:
Gregory (Afonsky)
Bishop of Sitka and Alaska

Succeeded by:
David (Mahaffey)
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