SYNOD OF BISHOPS: September 25, 2006
His Eminence Metropolitan Vitaly Dies
Today, at the age of 96, the fourth First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, His Eminence Metropolitan Vitaly, died. Since October 2001, he has been living in retirement at his residence in Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Canada.
Metropolitan Vitaly, born Rostislav Petrovich Oustinow in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1910, was the son of an officer of the Black Sea Fleet, Peter Oustinow and Lydia Andreevna, nee Stopchansky, daughter of a gendarme general who served his whole life in the Caucasus.
In 1920, during the Civil War, Rostislav was sent to the military school founded in Feodosia by General Wrangel. When he joined the White Army and evacuated, the young Rostislav found himself in Constantinople, and from there he went to Yugoslavia, where he studied in the Cadet Corps of the White Army.
In 1923, the mother of the future First Hierarch sponsored her son to come to Constantinople and from there, she moved with him to Paris, where he was enrolled in St Louis College in Le Mans. Upon graduating, he joined his mother in Cannes.
In 1934, he was called upon to fulfill his military obligations, which he did by joining the 9th Cavalry Regiment, but the young Oustinow had no wish to remain in the world - his only desire was to withdraw to a monastery.
In 1938, he entered the Monastery of St Job in the Carpathians.
In 1939, trudnik Rostislav was tonsured to the rassophore with the name Vitaly, and a year later, he was tonsured to the minor schema.
In 1941, in the city of Bratislava, Fr Vitaly was ordained by Metropolitan Seraphim of Berlin and Germany to the rank of hieromonk and assigned to minister to two towns on the Polish border.
World War II forced the monastic brotherhood to flee from the approaching Red Army. Fr Vitaly found himself in Berlin, where, together with Archimandrite Nathaniel, he developed a broad mission among the Russian refugees and prisoners of war. The second onslaught of the Reds forced the two young clergymen to move to Hamburg, where another field of activity opened up for them: to save thousands of refugees from forced repatriation to the USSR. A good knowledge of various languages, especially of English, along with tireless energy, allowed Fr Vitaly and Fr Nathaniel to save the lives of many Russians.
Settling in Hamburg, Hegumen Vitaly began to establish church life at the Displaced Persons camp Fischbeck. A barracks church was immediately set up there with a daily round of services, psalm-reading courses and even a year-long theological course for 12 youths. At the same time, Hegumen Vitaly gathered together a small monastic group, which began to publish church service books and even a newsletter, Pochaevskije listki .
From 1947 to 1951, Archimandrite Vitaly was the rector of the London parish; in 1951, on the feast day of SS Peter and Paul, he was consecrated bishop and sent to Brazil. Soon the young bishop opened his own print shop and established a small orphanage for boys, where they were taught them the daily cycle of services.
In 1955, Vladyka Vitaly and his brethren moved to Canada.
As Bishop of Montreal and Canada, Vladyka established a skete in Mansonville.
In Montreal, Vladyka acquired and refurbished the large St Nicholas Cathedral. Not far from the Cathedral is the Synodal podvorie.
It can be stated with confidence that there is no place where Vladyka Vitaly settled where he did not organize a small monastic brotherhood and active publishing concern.
The Council of Bishops in 1986 chose Vladyka Vitaly as the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
In 2001, the Russian Church Abroad celebrated the 50 th anniversary of His Eminence's service as bishop. That year, Vladyka Vitaly announced his retirement.
May the newly-reposed Vladyka Vitaly be granted the Kingdom of Heaven and eternal memory!