George (Schaefer) of Sydney

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His Grace on the ambon of his first cathedral church of St John the Baptist in Mayfield, PA.
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His Grace, the Right Reverend George (Schaefer) is Bishop of Sydney, and ruling bishop of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.


Paul Schaefer was born on May 25, 1950, in Belleville, Illinois, to Francis and Claire Schaefer, a devout Roman Catholic family. He graduated from Catholic High School in 1968 and then attended Southern Illinois University from 1968 to 1972. After graduating, he saw problems in the Roman Catholic Church; he stopped attending services and began to search for the truth, including in Buddhist and other eastern sources.

In 1974, he moved to San Jose, California, and found out about Orthodox Christianity through a Greek man, discovering the Church, the lives of saints, and the true faith. He was baptised that year at the Greek Orthodox Church in Modesto, California, and given the name Makarios in honor of Saint Makarios the Great. He started attending St Nicholas Church, San Jose, before attending the Greek Cathedral in San Francisco and, in May 1975, a Russian church in San Francisco.

In January 1975, Makarios visited Mt Athos, where he decided to become a monk. He later visited the St Herman of Alaska Monastery, Platina, where he met Monks Seraphim (Rose) and Herman (Podmoshensky) and was immersed in the monastic life. They suggested he enrol in seminary, which he did, entering Holy Trinity Seminary in September 1975.

Monastic life

On Christmas, January 7, 1976, Makarios was made a novice by Archbishop Averky (Taushev), then Dean of Holy Trinity Seminary. As a novice his obediences in the monastery were cleaning, cooking, working the tractor in the farm and digging graves in the cemetery. After a few years in the monastery he was made a riassophor monk on Friday of the First Week of Lent, 1979 and tonsured to the small schema on Friday of the First Week of Lent, 1980, and given the name Mitrophan in honor of Saint Mitrophan of Voronezh. He was ordained a subdeacon on Palm Sunday of the same year, before graduating from Holy Trinity Seminary that year.

Fr Mitrophan, with the blessing of Archbishop Laurus, moved to Mount Athos in June of 1981. Initially, he lived in St Elias Skete for several months, a strict skete which was then connected with ROCOR. On the advise of Elder Nicodemos of Karoulia, he then moved to an English-speaking cell (within Koutloumousiou Monastery) with four other ROCOR monks (including a hieromonk ordained by then-Bishop Mark (Arndt)), which was one that other monasteries would often send American visitors to them. He became acquainted with St Paisios the Athonite while there. He was tonsured to the great schema by Hieromonk Chrysostomos of Koutloumousiou and given the name George in honor of Saint George the Great-Martyr.

In February, 1986, Fr George returned to Holy Trinity Monastery and started working on the Printshop of Saint Job of Pochaev, where he worked until 2008. He assumed editorial duties on Orthodox Life from 1992 to his consecration as bishop in 2008, including writing & translating many articles for Orthodox Life magazine and translating several sayings of the Optina Elders found in Living Without Hypocrisy (HTM Press, 2006). He also began helping at Hermitage of the Holy Cross during this time, serving as confessor and spiritual father.

Fr George was ordained a hierodeacon on the feast of St. Michael, 1986 and a hieromonk on Palm Sunday, 1987. In 1994, he was appointed Economos of Holy Trinity Monastery, was elevated to the rank of hegumen in September 1998, was elevated to archimandrite on Labor Day, 2005, and was made dean of Holy Trinity Monastery in 2007.

Episcopal service

In May 2008, the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR elected Archimandrite George as Bishop of Mayfield, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church confirmed the election in June 2008; though Bp George, having no internet, found out about his appointment from the congratulations of friends. On December 7, 2008, Archimandrite George was consecrated to the episcopal office at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York, by Bishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada, Bishop Peter of Cleveland and Bishop John of Caracas. Bishop George's place of residence was at the Hermitage of the Holy Cross in Wayne, West Virginia. In 2009, when the Hermitage became independent of Holy Trinity Monastery, he was appointed Abbot.

On behalf of Metropolitan Hilarion (who, before being elected First Hierarch, had been diocesan bishop of Australia and New Zealand), Bp George visited Australia for two months in 2013, and repeated this trip in 2014. On October 10, 2014, he was appointed by the Holy Synod to be 'Bishop of Canberra' as a vicar bishop within the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand. It was later announced that Bp George would move to the Australian Diocesan Chancery after Pascha 2015, and would remain Bishop of Mayfield until his relocation.[1]

On Bright Tuesday, 2015, Bp George departed America for Sydney, Australia. He was welcomed on Bright Thursday and inducted as Bishop of Canberra on Bright Friday.

After the repose of Metropolitan Hilarion, Bp George was appointed Acting Ruling Bishop of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand. Later that year, during the same Council of Bishops that elected Bp Nicholas of Manhattan as First Hierarch, Bp George was appointed ruling bishop of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand on 21 September 2022, and given the title "Bishop of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand".[2]

Succession box:
George (Schaefer) of Sydney
Preceded by:
see created
Bishop of Mayfield

Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Igumen Seraphim (Voepel)
as Superior of a dependency of Holy Trinity Monastery
Abbot of the Hermitage of the Holy Cross
Succeeded by:
Archim. Seraphim (Voepel)
Preceded by:
see created
Bishop of Canberra

Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Metr. Hilarion
Bishop of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand

Succeeded by:
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