Herman (Swaiko) of Washington and New York

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His Beatitude, the Most Blessed Metropolitan Herman (Swaiko) of Washington and New York is the retired primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). He was elected Metropolitan on July 22, 2002, succeeding Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor), and retired on September 4, 2008.


Metropolitan Herman [né Joseph Swaiko] was born on February 1, 1932, in Bairdford, Pennsylvania. He completed his primary and secondary education in the West Deer Township school system and enrolled in Robert Morris University, where he received an associate's degree in secretarial science. He subsequently served as company clerk in the Adjutant General's Corps of the United States Army, stationed in Labrador.

After his discharge from the army in 1959, he enrolled at Saint Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary, and graduated with a Diploma in 1963. In March 1964, he was ordained as a deacon, and in April 1964 was ordained a priest. Subsequently, he served on the seminary's administrative staff and was an instructor of Church Slavonic. He also served as rector of churches in Dundaff and Union Dale, PA.

Herman was tonsured as a monk on December 4, 1970, and received the name Herman (in recognition of Herman of Alaska, the first saint of the OCA). On October 17, 1971, Herman was elevated to the rank of Igumen and was named Deputy Abbot of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Orthodox Monastery. In October 1972, he was elected to the episcopate and was elevated to the rank of archimandrite. He was consecrated to the episcopacy on February 10, 1973, as Bishop of Wilkes-Barre.

After the death of Archbishop Kiprian (Borisevich), Herman was elected Bishop of Philadelphia on March 17, 1981 and rector of Saint Tikhon's Seminary in May 1982. In 1994, he was elevated to the rank of Archbishop. From May to September 2001, Archbishop Herman served as the temporary administrator of the OCA, while Metropolitan Theodosius was on a medical leave of absence.

Election as Metropolitan

On April 2, 2002, Metropolitan Theodosius (who had suffered a series of strokes) submitted a petition to the Holy Synod of the OCA, requesting his retirement. The Holy Synod granted his request, and announced an election for his replacement to be held on July 22, at the OCA's Thirteenth All-American Council in Orlando.

No candidate received the required two-thirds majority during the first round of voting, which necessitated a second round. During the second round, Bishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada received the majority of votes, but again not the required two-thirds. Subsequently, the Holy Synod decided to elect Archbishop Herman (Metropolitan Theodosius was selected in a similar manner in 1977, having not received a two-thirds majority of votes).

Archbishop Herman was enthroned on September 8, 2002 at a ceremony in St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The enthronement ceremony and subsequent reception were attended by a number of prominent Orthodox and secular figures.


The later years of Metr. Herman's tenure were marred by financial and other scandals. In the autumn of 2005, the OCA administration was publicly accused of financial misconduct by its former treasurer, Protodeacon Eric Wheeler. On September 3, 2008, the Special Investigative Committee of the OCA released its 32-page report on this scandal. The report was presented to the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council. The report "held the whole OCA administrative structure responsible for failure". It also recommended discipline for five individuals. Among them were the former Metr. Theodosius and Metr. Herman. It recommended that the Metr. Herman resign, retire or be defrocked. Shortly before public release of the document, Metr. Herman requested medical leave of absence for nine months. The Metropolitan Council requested that the Holy Synod deny the metropolitan's request for a leave of absence. On September 4, 2008, Metr. Herman voluntarily retired from his position as Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America.

A subsequent formal investigation, chaired by Bishop Nikon (Liolin) of Boston, examined St. Tikhon's Monastery, Seminary, and Bookstore, all of which were presided over by Metr. Herman as bishop of Eastern Pennsylvania for several decades. A 66-page report formally released to the public in March, 2010, concluded that "Metropolitan Herman’s failure to properly exercise his fiduciary duty in supervising activities over which he had sole control led to the loss of or unaccountability for thousands of dollars of monastery money." The investigative committee recommended Met. Herman's removal from the vicinity of St. Tikhon's Monastery and Seminary: "Considering the great amount of monastery debt, the loss of thousands for dollars of monastery money through improper supervision... and the high loss of morale from these actions, the committee believes that Metropolitan Herman’s continued presence at the St. Tikhon's complex is detrimental to the St. Tikhon's community.”


On September 6, 2022, Metropolitan Herman, retired Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, fell asleep in the Lord at the age of 90. His funeral service was served at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery Church on September 16.

Succession box:
Herman (Swaiko) of Washington and New York
Preceded by:
Bishop of Wilkes-Barre (OCA)
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Kiprian (Borisevich)
Archbishop of Philadelphia (OCA)
Succeeded by:
Tikhon (Mollard)
Preceded by:
Theodosius (Lazor)
Archbishop of Washington,
Metropolitan of All America and Canada (OCA)

Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Peter (L'Huillier)
Archbishop of New York and New Jersey
Archbishop of Washington and New York,
Metropolitan of All America and Canada (OCA)

Succeeded by:
Jonah (Paffhausen)
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