Hilarion (Kapral) of New York
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Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) of Eastern America and New York was First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) from 2008 until his repose on May 16, 2022. Hilarion was formally enthroned on May 18, 2008. He was also the ruling bishop of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand.
Metropolitan Hilarion’s parents – his father Alexei Kapral, and his mother, Euphrosynia (nee Kasyaniuk) – were from the village of Obenizha in Volyhn. In 1929, during the Polish occupation, the local populace was persecuted and oppressed by Poles attempting to turn Western Ukraine into a Polish province. Thus, the 19-year-old Alexei and his young wife decided to emigrate to Canada. At the time, the Canadian government afforded immigrants the opportunity to obtain large tracts of land in Western Canada; it was there that the young family settled. Upon their arrival in the province of Alberta, the Kapral family received 160 acres of untilled land, as well as $100 in cash, a hammer, and an axe, with which to build themselves a home. In the developing Spirit River region, there were some 200 Ukrainians, and in view of the oncoming cold, they quickly built themselves houses. The great economic crisis of 1929-1930 affected the settlers as well, making an already hard life even more difficult. To find work, Alexei Kapral had to travel far from home, and he earned but 25 cents per day. Nonetheless, the family grew ever larger – five boys and two girls filled the house with children’s voices, speaking Ukrainian at home, but the children had English as their first language. Their parents also spoke Russian and Polish.
The youngest member of the family was Igor, the future Metropolitan Hilarion. He was born on January 6, 1948, in Spirit River, and spent his childhood in the country. He had to walk 2.5 miles to school every day, and describes his childhood as "pleasant...absolutely free of any harmful influences". Later he transferred to another school in Blueberry Creek, but returned to finish high school.
From his youth, Igor felt drawn to the Church, and loved to read books and periodicals on religion and morals. From a young age, around 6 or 7, he knew that he wanted to become a priest. He went to Holy Trinity Church in Spirit River, part of ROCOR and composed of ethnic Ukrainians. Services were held monthly or bi-monthly, and often Archbishop Panteleimon would celebrate these services. Abp Panteleimon was revered by Igor, and he was told by Abp Panteleimon that "someday you will be a priest".
In 1966, he found a spiritual director, Right Reverend Sava (Saračević), Bishop of Edmonton, a serbian who greatly revered our Holy Hierarch St. John (Maximovitch).
Seminary and the Priesthood
In 1967, when Igor Kapral was 19 years old, he entered the Holy Trinity Theological Seminary in Jordanville, NY, USA, under the advice of Bishop Sava of Edmondton. While here, he was able to learn Russian, as well as sing on the kliros and serve in the altar, learning the order of divine services.
From his second year at seminary, Igor was tasked with typesetting "Orthodox Life" in English, under the editorship of Archimandrite Constantine (Zaitsev); Igor soon succeeded him as editor. After some time, Hieromonk Ignaty (who was in charge of the printery) asked him to do the Russian typesetting as well. He became editor-in-chief in 1975 on the repose of Archim. Constantine, and began teaching at the seminary.
On graduating from the Seminary in 1972, Igor entered the Holy Trinity Monastery, becoming a novice (poslushnik) in 1973. On December 2, 1974 he was tonsured a rassaphore monk with the name Hilarion, in honor of Venerable Schema-monk Hilarion of the Kiev Caves, the famous Metropolitan of Kiev. On December 4, 1975, Archbishop Averky (Taushev, +1976), for whom the future Vladyka served as a cell-attendant, ordained him a hierodeacon.
As part of Bishop Laurus' push to elevate the quality of Russian language and literature instruction at Holy Trinity Seminary, he was selected to study a Master's degree in Slavic Studies and Russian Literature. He graduated in 1976, the same year that Bishop Laurus of Manhattan ordained him a hieromonk.
Fr Hilarion served as a priestmonk at the monastery, continuing his work at the printing press. He was often sent to parishes, replacing absent priests, often traveling to Cleveland and Pennsylvania.
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Fr Hilarion was approved by the Bishop's Sobor meeting at Mansonville, Quebec in 1983, and Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky) suggested that he be appointed Bishop of Manhattan, a vicar bishop of the Diocese of New York and Eastern America. On 10 December 1984, at the young age of 36, Fr Hilarion was consecrated a bishop by Metropolitan Philaret of New York and nine other bishops (Abps Seraphim, Antony, Vitaly, Laurus, Paul, and Bps Gregory, Mark, Alypy) at the Synodal Cathedral in New York City. He was appointed to the see of Manhattan and charged with overseeing the parishes in Pennsylvania and the Eastern American diocese. In 1987, he was named deputy secretary for the Synod of Bishops. In 1995, Bishop Hilarion was transferred to the See of Washington while retaining his residence in New York. During his time as Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese, he was noted for frequent visits to parishes and accessibility to the faithful.
The Diocese of Australia and New Zealand was experiencing turmoil, and had not had a ruling bishop for five years; hence in June 1996, recognising his pastoral gifts, he was transferred to the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand (which was experiencing some problems at that stage) and raised to the rank of archbishop. Abp Hilarion set establishing the Property Trust as an Act of the New South Wales Parliament, and then rectifying the shortage of priests and beginning missionary work, generally strengthening the diocese and its church life. In 2003 he was awarded the honour of wearing a diamond cross on his klobuk. He continued his accessibility to the faithful in his new diocese, including missions in Korea, China and Indonesia. He was the first hierarch of ROCOR to visit China since St John of Shanghai and San Francisco's departure after World War II.
Upon Metr. Laurus's death, Abp. Hilarion was appointed as the temporary head of the ROCOR Synod. To his dismay, on May 12, 2008, Archbishop Hilarion was elected and elevated as the new Metropolitan of ROCOR, having received all but one vote (his own). As First Hierarch, he convenes meetings of the synod (3-4 times each year), meetings of the Council of Bishops, and represents the ROCOR at the Moscow Patriarchate when bishops convene there. In addition, he remains ruling bishop of the diocese of Australia and New Zealand, in addition to also being ruling bishop of the Eastern American diocese.
On the December 10, 2009 Metropolitan Hilarion marked 25 years since the date of consecration as a bishop. The festivities took place in the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand. Vladyka Hilarion, notably, is presiding over a period where unity with the Church of Russia is smooth and without inequality, and divisiveness has died down in ROCOR.
On May 16th, 2022 at the age of 74, Hilarion fell asleep in the Lord after various health struggles.
Hilarion (Kapral) of New York
|Bishop of Manhattan
|Bishop of Washington
|Archbishop of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand
|Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York
|First Hierarch of ROCOR
- Archbishop Hilarion Is Elected First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR site)
- Official biography from the ROCOR Australia and New Zealand website
- Photo Report of Enthronement, May 18, 2008