Laurus (Škurla) of New York

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His Eminence the Most Reverend Metropolitan Laurus (Skurla) of New York was the first hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia from 2001 until his death on March 16, 2008.


The future hierarch was born Vassily Mikhailovich Skurla on January 1, 1928, in the village of Lodomirovo, Czechoslavakia, to Mikhail Ivanovich and Elena Mikhaolovna Skurla. His family was devotedly Orthodox Christian in an area of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire that was strongly influenced by Roman Catholics.

When he was five, Vassily began serving at the altar of the Church of St. Job at the Pochaev Monastery in Ladomirova, which was the parish church for the local Orthodox population. At the age of eight, young Vassily approached the abbot of the monastery, Archimandrite Seraphim, to accept him as a novice. In 1939, at the age of eleven, his father gave him permission to join the monastery, and he began to fully participate in the monastery life while he continued his required secondary education. He remained in the monastery throughout World War II, until the approach of the Soviet Army in 1944.

As the army approached, the brotherhood evacuated the monastery, first to Bratislava, and then on to Germany and Switzerland. While in Geneva, Switzerland, at the age of sixteen, Vassily became a novice. In 1946, after the war, the brotherhood, including Vassily, emigrated to the United States and joined Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York.

At Jordanville, Vassily joined the first class of Holy Trinity Seminary, graduating in 1947 while still a novice. In March 1948, Vassily was one of three novices who were tonsured ryassophore monks, being given the name 'Laurus.' In 1949, Laurus was tonsured to the small schema and then ordained to the diaconate in 1949. In 1954, he was ordained to the priesthood. Fr. Laurus was elevated to igumen in 1959. In 1966, he was further honored when he was elevated to archimandrite.

In 1967, Archimandrite Laurus was elected to the episcopate, being consecrated bishop of Manhattan at the Synodal Cathedral of the Theotokos of the Sign in New York City. With this elevation came an assignment as secretary of the Synod of Bishops. His consecration was celebrated by Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky), Archbishops Averky (Taushev) and Nikon (Rklitsky), and Bishops Antony (Medvedev) and Kyrill (Yonchev).

After the repose of Abp. Averky in 1976, Bp. Laurus was elected abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery by the Brotherhood of St. Job of Pochaev. With this election, Bp. Laurus was appointed bishop of Syracuse and Holy Trinity by the Synod of Bishops. In the following years, Bp. Laurus traveled and led many pilgrimages throughout the Orthodox Christian world, including the Holy Land and Mount Athos. In 1981, he was elevated to archbishop. As abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery, he encouraged publication efforts of the monastery, furthering the missionary purpose of the Brotherhood.

In October 2001, after the retirement of Metr. Vitaly (Ustinov), Abp. Laurus was elected by the Synod of Bishops as metropolitan of Eastern America and New York and the first hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.

Between May 6 and May 14, 2006, Metr. Laurus chaired the fourth All-Diaspora Council of ROCOR, at which approval was given for reconciliation and normalization of relations with the Moscow Patriarchate. On May 17, 2007, Metr. Laurus, with many of the clergy of ROCOR, participated in the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion in Moscow, Russia and participated in a joint liturgy with the Patriarch of Moscow at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow.

On March 16, 2008, Metr. Laurus reposed in peace at his residence in Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville.

Succession box:
Laurus (Škurla) of New York
Preceded by:
Bishop of Manhattan

Succeeded by:
Gregory (Grabbe)
Preceded by:
Averky (Taushev)
Archbishop of Syracuse and Holy Trinity

Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Vitaly (Ustinov)
First Hierarch of ROCOR
Succeeded by:
Hilarion (Kapral) of Sydney
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