Seraphim (Storheim) of Ottawa

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His Grace, the Right Reverend SERAPHIM (Storheim) is the Ruling Bishop of the Orthodox Church in America's Archdiocese of Canada, Secretary to the Holy Synod of Bishops, and Chair of the Church's Department of External Affairs. Bishop SERAPHIM also has the distinction of being the first Canadian to be consecrated to the episcopacy within the Orthodox Church.

Early Life

Born in Edmonton on January 25, 1946, Kenneth William Storheim came from a Norwegian and Scottish background, and was raised in the Lutheran Church. His personal studies and spiritual orientation led him to Anglicanism and later to Orthodoxy.

He graduated from Bonnie Doone High School in Edmonton and took a general Bachelor of Arts at the University of Alberta, contemplating a career in music. While there "the Lord backed him into a comer", and young Storheim went on to the Vancouver School of Theology. His stay in Vancouver brought him to Holy Resurection Russian Orthodox Churchwhere, among the local Russian parishioners, he met for the first time converts to Orthodoxy from a Canadian background. After a while he became acquainted with the clergy of the church: Archpriests Oleg Boldireff, Peter Kurzemnek, John Karateev, later with Bishop Joasaph and with some original parishioners, like Mr. Anatole Portnoff, the singer of the Church choir. The future bishop was delighted by the Orthodox Church services and Church music and became a frequent visitor here. In this church the "seed of true faith fell on good soil in his heart and the plant grew and bore grain in abundance", but not before he went through a few more years of searching and contemplation.

Journey to Orthodoxy

After his graduation from the Vancouver School of Theology, Kenneth was ordained into the Anglican priesthood in 1972. He served six years in Edmonton (1972-74) and in Ponoka, Alberta (1974-78). Throughout these years he became more and more disillusioned with Anglicanism, which tended to change dramatically. During this time Fr. Kenneth deepened his ties with the Orthodox Church whose presence was visible especially in Alberta. Here he attended many Orthodox churches and met many Orthodox Christians both clergy and laymen and learned that the Orthodox Church, unlike the one he was ordained keeping the tradition of the Apostolic Church. Fr. Kenneth liked what he found in Orthodoxy and came to a firm conclusion by himself that he wanted to become Orthodox. Once having decided, he acted upon it quickly.

Theological and Priestly Formation

In August 1978, Kenneth Storheim was received into Holy Orthodoxy with the name Seraphim at St. Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church in Edmonton, accepting as his heavenly patron St. Seraphim of Sarov. Then he was admitted into St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York, where he received the Masters degree in Theology. He was ordained to the Holy Deaconate by Archbishop Sylvester at the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan on October 28, 1979 and to the Holy Priesthood by Metropolitan Theodosius in the chapel of Three Saints at St. Vladimir's Seminary on November 21,1979. He graduated as a Master of Divinity in 1981.

During the two latter years in the Seminary, Fr. Seraphim lived as a monk and spent several months at the New Valaamo Monastery in Finland, to where he was invited by the late Archbishop Paul of Finland. While being tonsured monastic he took as his protector St. Seraphim, the New Martyr of Constantinople.

From the Spring of 1981 Fr. Seraphim served as a traveling and supply priest in Alberta, North Carolina and Ontario until becoming Rector of Holy Trinity Sobor in Winnipeg on December 1, 1984. In this particular year he also accompanied St. Vladimir's Seminarian Octet across the USA and Canada. Throughout his eight years as an Orthodox priest Father Seraphim served faithfully as a devoted pastor, caring for and loving his flock and giving his wisdom, knowledge and energy to the service of the Church and to its people. Thus it happened only naturally that he became a candidate for the bishopric.

First Canadian-Born Orthodox Bishop

In the meantime, the office of the Diocesan Bishop in Canada had been vacant since Archbishop Sylvester retired on July 1, 1981. The Diocesan Assembly held in Winnipeg in June of 1984 noted that while Metropolitan Theodosius, as the "Locum Tenens", was devoting as much time and effort to the Canadian flock as possible, the geographically vast Archdiocese should have a Bishop of its own. This led to the following: in November of 1986 the Diocesan Council nominated Father Seraphim to the episcopate, in March 1987 the Holy Synod accepted the nomination and decided for him to be "Bishop of Edmonton", the auxiliary to the ruling Bishop of Canada. Thus, during the Great Lent Father Seraphim was tonsured to become a monk and on the Holy Pascha of 1987 the Hieromonk Seraphim was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite.

On June 13, 1987, at the end of the Diocesan Assembly of the Archdiocese of Canada, Archimandrite Seraphim was consecrated Bishop in St. Herman's Orthodox Church in Edmonton. Becoming the first Canadian born bishop to rule, later on, the Canadian Archdiocese of the Orthodox Church in America.

The solemn ceremony of the consecration was headed by the Primate of the Church, His Beatitude Theodosius, Archbishop of Washington, DC, Metropolitan to, did not changed through the centuries, of All-America and Canada, together with His Grace, the Right Reverend Nathaniel, Bishop of Detroit and His Grace, the Right Reverend Boris, Bishop of Chicago. Co-celebrating were: Archpriest Daniel Hubiak, the Chancellor of the OCA, Archpriest John Tkachuk, the Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Protodeacon Basil Hubiak and the clergy of the Archdiocese present at the Assembly. The care for the protocol of the services was in the hands of Archpriests Robert Kondratik (for the OCA Chancery) and Stephen Keaschuk (for the local church).

On the eve of the Consecration, Archimandrite Seraphim officially accepted his election as Bishop, affirmed his allegiance to the fundamental Orthodox doctrine and promised to faithfully serve the Church and his flock.

During the Divine Liturgy the Bishops laid their hands on his head, held an open Bible over him and prayed that he would be "a leader of the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a luminary to the world".

The Primate of the Church, Metropolitan Theodosius, vested the new Bishop, placing the saccos over him and giving him other ornaments of his new position in the Church. The Bishops and the clergy, as well as the worshippers present in the church, shouted "Axios" (Greek for "he is worthy') as each article of the vestment was put on him.

At the end, the new Bishop took in his hands the dikirion and trikirion, the ceremonial candleholders used by Bishops and blessed with them those in the church. "Eis pola eti Despota" - Many years Master! - Sung the church.

It was an unforgettable event. The day was beautiful, sunny and warm, the service was magnificent, and we all, who were lucky enough to witness the ceremony of the consecration of the new Bishop, a ceremony which goes back to the early days of the Christian Church, were so tremendously happy to see our new Vladika with the dikirion and trikirion in his hands blessing us, his unworthy servants.

Bishop Seraphim has said that giving Orthodoxy a higher profile in Canadian society is one of his priorities. He is a tireless worker for Orthodox unity and the unity of the Archdiocese. He seeks to imbue the faithful with the spirit of the Gospel, missionary fervour, and is much beloved by the faithful of the Archdiocese.