His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus Officiates at the Celebrations of the 25th Anniversary of the Episcopal Service of Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany


On Saturday and Sunday, October 8-9, 2005, the German Diocese celebrated the 25th anniversary of the archpastoral service of their Vladyka, Archbishop Mark. The Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God was brought by the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus. Some 500 persons from throughout the Diocese were in attendance. Guests from the furthest reaches of the diaspora, and from Russia, came: Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, a regular member of the Synod of Bishops; Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), Abbess Moissea of the Mt of Olives Convent of the Ascension; Abbess Elizabeth of Gethsemane Convent, clergymen from England and Switzerland, and numerous other guests.

On Saturday evening, the feast day of Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, Metropolitan Laurus arrived at the Cathedral of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia bearing the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora. His Eminence Vladyka served all-night vigil along with Archbishop Mark, Archbishop Kyrill and Bishop Agapit of Stuttgart. The large choir sang with great inspiration under the direction of VV Tsiolkovich. Seventeen priests emerged for the litiya, at which Archbishop Kyrill officiated. The anointing with oil of the worshipers lasted until the great doxology. Vladyka Agapit then continued serving until the end of vigil.

On Sunday, during Divine Liturgy, a great many churchgoers partook of the Holy Gifts from four chalices. At the end of his sermon, Metropolitan Laurus congratulated Vladyka Mark, who is not only responsible for the Diocese of Germany and Great Britain but also oversees the monasteries in the Holy Land and heads discussions with the Moscow Patriarchate.

The visiting bishops stayed at the new convent quarters in Munich. As the Senior Priest of the Cathedral explained, all the parishes of the German Diocese, plus the ones in Copenhagen and London, participated not only with gifts but in the organization of the celebratory trapeza, which was attended by over 400 persons, not to speak of the divine services. One hundred thirty-five people needed places to stay overnight. The parish set up a tent on the church grounds. The Sisterhood and helpers worked non-stop for two days preparing.

Many guests delivered congratulations during the trapeza. Bishop Agapit first greeted all the guests who came to share in the festivities. Bishop Agapit, who embarked upon his monastic path over 25 years ago under the guidance of then-Father Mark shared some of his recollections of the path he traveled with his Abbot. A children's choir then sang a humorous song of the relationship between Vladyka and the children, on his teaching in school and other activities. The older children of the Russian School recited the poetry of a parishioner of the Cathedral, A Immler, written in honor of Vladyka Mark, after which a youth choir under the direction of the young Maxim Matjuschenkoff sang two folk songs and a solemn Many Years.

Archimandrite Tikhon, Prior of Sretensky Stavropighial Monastery in Moscow, read the following greeting from His Holiness Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia:

"Your Eminence, Dear Vladyka!

I extend heartfelt greeting to you on this momentous day in your life—the 25th anniversary of your episcopal consecration.

Over these years, the Lord has given much for you to accomplish and endure. Still, through these worldly tribulations, you always served as an example of loyalty to the Holy Church and to your calling.

With your natural sense of duty you fulfill the laborious work of Orthodox witness in the Russian Diaspora. You perform your pastoral work with love and zeal, building new churches, educating the younger generation in the spirit of the traditional moral principles of Holy Russia and you lead many people towards faith in Christ.

It brings joy to see that, through no small effort, you make your own contribution to the good work of overcoming the existing division between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

On this important day of yours I prayerfully wish you, dear Vladyka, the all-strengthening aid of God in your further archpastoral work.

May the Lord preserve you through the intercession of the Queen of Heaven in health and success for many good years to come!"

The ending words were caught up by the people, who began to sing "Many Years."

Archbishop Kyrill, who had traveled halfway around the world, from San Francisco, to participate in the Munich celebrations, greeted his brother bishop on his own behalf and that of his flock, and presented Archbishop Mark with a painted icon of SS Cyril and Methodius, who are the heavenly protectors of the High School dedicated to them at the Cathedral in San Francisco. Fr Tikhon congratulated Vladyka Mark on behalf of his monastery, mentioning both Archbishop Mark's archpastoral love and his accessibility. He also recalled his first personal meeting with the Russian Church Abroad in the person of Vladyka Mark in the late 1980's, his role in providing an understanding of our Church in real life and not from books.

Protopriest Slobodan Milunovic, representing the Serbian Church, spoke of the friendly bonds between Vladyka Mark and the Serbian Orthodox Church. The abbesses of the Convents of the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane also spoke, giving Vladyka Mark gifts from their sister nuns. Protopriest Nikolai Artemoff, Senior Priest of the Cathedral, presented the official gift of the German Diocese: a set of blue vestments with a mitre.

Other gifts to Vladyka Mark were also presented by private individuals before and after the service: a matching panaghia and staff and two other sets of vestments. A dark-red sakkos with a large omophorion is being prepared in Moscow to match an existing embroidered set from the Holy Land consisting of an omophorion, epitrachelion and cuffs.

One of the schoolchildren recited a poem on the archpastoral difficulties of their bishop.

The honoree then spoke, thanking his colleagues and flock. "If I were asked about this celebration," said Vladyka, "I would certainly have forbid it." He expressed the feeling that less was done than still needs doing, that a great many tasks lie ahead in serving God and Holy Orthodoxy.

Two representatives of the Consulate General of the Russian Federation were present. Consul BP Arkhipov addressed Archbishop Mark on behalf of the Consul-General, AP Karachevtsev, who could not attend himself because of other urgent matters.

As tea and dessert was offered, the organizers of the event, Senior Sister VG Mondich and AI Immler, made speeches.

Concluding the addresses was Priest Vadim Zakrevsky from England, who nourishes the flock of London's Dormition Cathedral, of which Vladyka Mark is the Rector.

Despite the great number of guests, the trapeza was so bountiful that remaining food was divided among the two Munich monasteries and the faithful. This day passed under magnificent weather in an elevated mood, with pomp, but, as the Consul said, "as amidst a big family."


Archbishop Mark was born Michael Arndt on January 29, 1941, in Saxony, where the first Russian bishop of German origin was also born, Metropolitan Seraphim (Liade).

After finishing the 13-year school program in Frankfurt am Main in 1960, the future bishop volunteered for military service in Western Germany, where he served for 1 _ years. He was later drafted several times later and reached the rank of lieutenant-senior.

In 1962, he enrolled in the Historical-Philological Department in Frankfurt University, transferring later to Heidelberg University. There he specialized in Slavic and English, including Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovak, Czech and Macedonian languages and literature. His doctoral thesis was entitled: "Biographical Literature of the Tver Duchy in the 14th and 15th Centuries."

The study of Russian drew the young student to the Russian émigré community in Frankfurt. Studying under Professor Dimitri Chizhevsky in Heidelberg, he visited Mannheim's Church of St Alexander Nevsky of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, where he converted to Orthodoxy in 1964, later becoming a reader. Trips to Mt Athos, his friendship with Athonite elders on Karoulia (Hiero-schemamonk Seraphim, a second Hiero-schema-monk Seraphim, Hiero-schema-monk Nikolai, Schema-monk Nikodemos), visits to the Skete of St Elias and St Panteleimon Monastery, where he became acquainted with Hiero-schema-monk Avel (now Archimandrite at St John the Theologian Monastery in Ryazan') spiritually determined the path of this Doctor of Slavic Studies. His further scholarly work concentrated on St Philaret of Moscow.

Starting in the fall of 1973, the future Vladyka began studying theology in Belgrade, where he graduated with a degree in theology in 1979. His personal acquaintance with Archimandrite Justin (Popovic), living then in exile in Celije Monastery, drew him into the tightly-knit group of the Serbian elder's students, then hieromonks, now bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church—Amphilochius, Afanasi, Artemije and Irinej.

Ordained to the rank of deacon in 1975, the future Vladyka Mark soon dropped teaching Church Slavonic and Ancient Russian Language and Literature in Erlangen, and also his scholarly work, in order to be tonsured to the monkhood, performed in the summer of 1975 in Lesna Convent near Paris. Three days later, Fr Mark was ordained hieromonk and appointed as Deputy Rector of the Russian church in Wiesbaden. In the summer of 1976, by decree of the Synod of Bishops, he was elevated to rank of archimandrite. Archbishop Paul (Pavlov, +1995), then Bishop of Stuttgart and South Germany. Archimandrite Mark ministered to three parishes—Wiesbaden, Darmstadt and Saarbrukken. He devoted himself to preserving the Czarist-era churches in Germany, renovating and expanding the Russian cemetery near the Wiesbaden church, where he performed the full cycle of monastic services, and where he began teaching the young people he attracted, while at the same time continuing his theological studies, successfully passing examinations in Belgrade.

After the death of Archbishop Theodosius of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand, the Synod of Bishops appointed His Grace Bishop Paul, then Vicar of the Diocese of Berlin and Germany. Bishop Paul's see was then given to Archimandrite Mark, who was to assume the title of Bishop of Munich and Southern Germany. His consecration was performed on November 30, 1980, at the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign in New York. As is tradition, during the rite of nomination, Archimandrite Mark read a sermon in which one could see a repeating theme, that of how to lead his flock. He had warm words regarding his spiritual closeness to the Serbian theologian and ascetic, Archimandrite Justin (Popovic, +1979) and also to Holy Mount Athos. The consecration was headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky, +1985), along with Archbishop Vitaly of Montreal and Canada, and Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco and Western America, Bishop Laurus of Holy Trinity and Syracuse, Bishop Paul of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand and Bishop Gregory (Grabbe, +1995) of Manhattan.

After his consecration, Bishop Mark moved to the Monastery of St Job of Pochaev in Munich with a small monastic community. The monastery was reestablished and renovated. From 1981, the periodical Vestnik Germanskoj Eparkhii [Bulletin of the German Diocese] began publication, a printing press was established (publishing works in Russian and German), and the production of candles and incense began. The monastery followed the Athonite rule. In the fall of 1982, Bishop Mark, because of the serious illness of Archbishop Filofei (Narko), accepted the title of Bishop of Berlin and Germany, but continued to reside in the Munich monastery, from where he continues to rule the German Diocese.

In the mid-1980's, Vladyka Mark was appointed Ruling Bishop of the Diocese of Great Britain and Rector of St Alexander Nevsky Parish in Copenhagen.

In 1997, he was appointed Overseer of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem.

From 1993-1997, he headed the dialog between the two dioceses (of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate) in the united Germany. Since 2000, he has been the President of the Committee on the Unity of the Russian Church, and since 2003, the President of the Commission on talks with the Moscow Patriarchate.