Gerasim (Eliel)

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Archimandrite Gerasim (Eliel) is the dean of St Seraphim's Cathedral, Dallas. He was formerly the abbot of St Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina, and was involved in bringing the monastery back into the Orthodox Church. On February 16, 2015, he was nominated to be the next bishop of the Diocese of the South (OCA).

Biographical sketch

  • 1961 July 16: Gordon Trent Eliel was born in Torrance, California, the second son (of three) to Lambert Frank Eliel (an economist) & Suzanne Jean Eliel (nee Butcher). Baptised at St. Cross Episcopal Church in Hermosa Beach, raised on the Rancho Palos Verdes, California, and attended & was confirmed at St Francis Episcopal Church in Palos Verdes Estates. He was well-read and athletic.
  • 1969: Lambert and Suzanne separated, then divorced, with Gordon and his brothers living with Suzanne (who then became a teacher). The divorce affected Gordon in his upbringing and self-identity.
  • 1974-78: Gordon and his family began attending a Presbyterian church, where Gordon attended the youth group.
  • 1976: Suzanne remarried Robert Karbach. Though his stepfather was kind, but problems stemming from the divorce and with a blended family meant that Gordon desired a fresh start, and he moved to Irvine in January 1978 to live with his father. He made friends, but no close friends; he attended St George Episcopal Church, which was pleasant. He joined Young Life, which gave Christian fellowship with fellow high schoolers.
  • 1978 Winter: Young Life retreat prompted Gordon to think about prayer, and begin to comprehend Christ and the New Testament, which led him to attend church with hunger, attention and conviction.
  • 1979 Autumn: Began studies at University of California at Santa Cruz. Began involvement in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. Originally intending to study Physics and Spanish literature, after his first year he began to focus more on Spanish literature.
  • Became a part of a Bible study led by James Paffhausen, which over time functioned like an Orthodox catechism class. Gordon was invited to services and became acquainted with the Orthodox Church. James encouraged Gordon to visit Episcopal churches (to learn about prayer and worship in a familiar environment), but found them insipid and uninspiring compared to Orthodox services.
  • 1980 January: Fr John Newcombe was assigned to be acting rector of the closest OCA parish to campus (St Nicholas Church in Saratoga). He welcomed the students warmly to his parish, and was a decisive influence on Gordon and his future decision to embrace monasticism. Fr John guided Gordon's catechism.
  • 1980: Gordon met Bp Mark (Schaviakin) of Ladoga in early 1980 at St Nicholas Cathedral (Moscow Patriarchate) - the same who had tonsured James Paffhausen a reader for Our Lady of Kazan Church, San Diego. He also was very welcoming, giving a way to enter the Church and teaching about the Church and monasticism (particularly his experience at Valaam monastery). On April 7, Gordon was received into the Church.
  • 1980 Summer: Fr John invited Gordon and James to stay at Holy Assumption Monastery for two months. They helped with cleaning & restoring the convent, with the outlook of founding a monastery for Americans - this became Gordon's dream over the summer. They also took trips to Kazan Icon Skete in Santa Rosa, where he met Archim. Dimitri (Egoroff).
  • 1980 Jul 6: Gordon and James visited St Herman of Alaska Monastery. Gordon and James were able to speak to Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) about monasticism and their plans for the monastic life, and to Abbot Herman (Podmoshensky) about activities, prayers and talks on campus.
  • 1980 Sep: Gordon began studying the Russian language, wanting to understand services and sermons and to communicate with older parishioners who had a lifetime of experience in Orthodoxy.
  • 1981 May 15: Hmk Seraphim (Rose) was invited to address a World Religions class. This proved to be a pivotal talk for a number of people, including Gordon, James, Marion Cardoza, Daniel Ogan, John Christensen and James Corraza. The talk was widely distributed, and was made into a book in 1988 (as 'God's Revelation to the Human Heart').
  • 1981 July: With Fr John (now Hmk Anastasy) having moved to Oregon, a disdain towards the direction that Latin American Studies was going in, and his pull towards the monastic life, Gordon chose to move to Oregon. He drove Archim. Dimitri (Egoroff) from Santa Barbara to Santa Rosa.
  • 1981 July 28: Gordon reached St Herman of Alaska Monastery, intending to continue on to establish monastic life under Hmk Anastasy's guidance after helping to prepare the 1981 summer pilgrimage. He stayed there for quite some time, as Hmk Anastasy had not made arrangements for him in Portland. After more time passed, he asked Hmk Anastasy's blessing to stay at Platina - which he gave reluctantly.
  • 1981 Nov: Gordon petitioned to be accepted as a novice.
  • 1981 Dec 25: Gordon was clothed as a novice. His obediences included cooking, cleaning, cutting firewood, helping in construction projects and making elementary repairs.
  • 1982 Spring: Br Gordon began building a new set of cells. He also began to assist with research for monastery publications and work on monastery publications.
  • 1982 Sep 2: Hmk Seraphim (Rose) reposed in hospital, an event that devastated Br Gordon. They returned to the monastery on September 3 with Fr Seraphim's body. Abbot Herman planned for Br Gordon to be tonsured a reader, but Br Gordon asked to be tonsured a monk - which he was, named for St Gerasimus of the Jordan (and in honour of Archim. Gerasim (Schmaltz)).
  • Fr Gerasim began to detect

Succession box:
Gerasim (Eliel)
Preceded by:
Abbot Herman
Abbot of Monastery of St. Herman of Alaska, Platina
Succeeded by:
Abbot Hilarion
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