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Paul (Gassios) of Chicago

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Archpriest '''Paul Gassios''' is a priest in the Bulgarian Administrator of the [[Diocese of the Midwest (OCA)|Diocese of the Midwest]], in the [[Orthodox Church in America]]. On 7 October 2014, he was nominated by the Diocesan Assembly to be bishop of the Diocese.
Returning to Wayne State in 1978, Paul received a Master of Social Work; around 1981, he realised that Bible study couldn't sustain him, and looked for a church, experiencing Lutheran, Presbyterian and pentecostal gatherings. He and his altar server friends still met for coffee, and got into the habit of attending Sunday evening Vespers. One evening around 1983, Fr Michael Matsko spoke on secularism and the Church, making the point that Orthodoxy is about Christ, not simply philosophies or religious viewpoints. Paul started attending Fr Michael's church - an English-language parish - and understanding more about how Orthodox practice is ultimately all about Christ.
Encouraged by people to attend seminary, he began studies in 1991 at [[St . Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary(Crestwood, New York)|St Vladimir's Seminary]], singing with the Seminary Octet, making the choice to be a celibate, and graduating with a Master of Divinity in 1994. He was ordained a deacon in March, graduated in May, ordained a priest in June and immediately began an 11 year assignment to St Thomas Orthodox Mission, Kokomo, who had been received into the Orthodox Church (from the [[Evangelical Orthodox Church]]) that year. Fr Paul was able to bring worship into line with accepted Orthodox norms while keeping the whole community within the Church.
In 1995, he began a relationship with [[St . Gregory Palamas Monastery(Hayesville, Ohio )|St Gregory Palamas Monastery]] - staying there for the summer of 1999 and for a year in 2005-06. At the end of May 2006, he moved to St Louis to Archangel Michael Church in St Louis in order to stabilise a parish in decline. A suggestion he made - of merging Archangel Michael with a newly-received parish - has meant that the parish is still continuing. In October, though, he was contacted to be dean of the Cathedral of the Bulgarian Diocese - which, to be closer to the monastery and his sister, he accepted and took up duties on [[January 1]], 2007. Fr Paul's experience at St George's Cathedral gave him an understanding of the breadth of the OCA. As he had previously, he was able to ensure a greater uniformity with Orthodox practice through patience and education.
In 2010, he was contacted to be considered for the vacant see of [[Diocese of the Midwest (OCA)|Chicago and the Midwest]], and made the shortlist (with Fr Matthias Moriak and Fr David Mahaffey), with Fr [[Matthias (Moriak) of Chicago|Matthias ]] ultimately being nominated. He was immediately put forward as an optimal candidate for the [[Bulgarian Diocese (OCA)|Bulgarian Diocese]], but because he felt that his views were not aligned with the views of his the diocese, he demanded that there needed to be another candidate. Fr Paul and Hmk [[Alexander (Golitzin ) of Toledo|Alexander Golitzin]] were put forward by the search committee and, to Fr Paul's relief, it was Hmk Alexander was nominated, elected and consecrated to the episcopacy. Fr Paul submitted a letter to Bp Melchizedek [[Melchisedek (Pleska) of Pittsburgh|Melchisedek]] asking to be removed from future consideration for the episcopacy, declining inquiries from [[Diocese of Alaska(OCA)|Alaska]], the [[Diocese of the South (OCA)|South]] and [[Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania (OCA)|Eastern PA]]. In the summer of 2013, he contacted Fr Joseph at St Gregory Palamas Monastery regarding moving there; when asked, Bp Alexander (Golitzin) requested that he pause thoughts along that line. Having been told that he would be nominated for the episcopacy of the again-vacant see of the Midwest, Fr Joseph told him to go through with the episcopal search process again.
He was appointed Administrator of the Diocese of Chicago and the Midwest by the [[Holy Synod ]] during 18-21 March 2014, and assumed his duties on [[August 1]].  On [[October 7]], 2014, at the special nominating Assembly, he was nominated to fill the vacant seat of Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest.
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