St. John the Baptist Parish, A Parish of the Russian Orthodox Church, Canberra, Australia

His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus (Vassily Skurla)

Biography of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus (Vassily Skurla), First Heirarch of the Russian Church Outside of Russia

Vladika Metropolitan Laurus was born in 1928 in Ladomirova, Czechoslovakia, to Mikhail Ivanovich and Elena Mikhailovna Skurla. At the age of 5, he began serving in the altar on feastdays at the church of the Saint Job of Pochaev Monastery in Ladomirova, which served as the parish church for the local populace. At the age of 8, the future Metropolitan Laurus asked the abbot of the Monastery Archimandrite Seraphim (later - Archbishop of Chicago and Detroit, + 1987), to accept him as a novice. His father gave him his permission and the young Vassily joined the monastery at age 11. After entering the Monastery, he continued his obligatory secondary education, traveling to and from school by bicycle. While attending school, he also fully participated in the life of the Monastery, arising everyday at 4:00 a.m. for the Midnight Office, and participating at the other Divine Services. Archimandrite Kyprian (Pzhov), iconographer at the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville N.Y., played a large role in the future Metroplitan's education.

In 1944, with the Red Army swiftly approaching, the Brotherhood of the Monastery evacuated. After Bratislava, the Brotherhood traveled on to Germany, and then to Switzerland. It was in Geneva that the future Metropolitan Laurus was, at the age of sixteen, made a novice. In 1946, the brotherhood emigrated to The United States, and joined the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York. In March of 1948, immediately before the Presanctified Liturgy, three novices were tonsured as ryassophore monks - Vassily Skurla (now Metropolitan Laurus), Vassily Vanko (now Archimandrite Flor), and Nikolai Gamanovich (now Archbishop Alypy of Chicago & Detroit). In 1949 Father Laurus was tonsured to the small schema, in 1950 he was ordained to the deaconate, and in 1954 to the priesthood. In 1947, while still a novice, he graduated with the first class from Holy Trinity Seminary.

In 1959 Father Laurus was elevated to Igumen, and in 1966 to Archimandrite. In 1967 Archimandrite Laurus was consecrated to the episcopate as Bishop of Manhattan, and appointed secretary of the Synod of Bishops. His consecration took place in the Synodal Cathedral of the Theotokos of the Sign in New York, and was celebrated by Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky, +1986), Archbishop Averky (Taushev, +1976), Archbishop Nikon (Rklitsky, +1976), Bishop Antony (Medvedev, later Archbishop, +2002) and Bishop Kyrill (Yonchev).

In 1976, upon the repose of Archbishop Averky, the Brotherhood of St. Job of Pochaev elected Bishop Laurus as the abbot to the Monastery. Thus, Vladika Laurus was appointed as Bishop of Syracuse and Holy Trinity, and abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery. In 1981, he was elevated to rank of Archbishop. Vladika Metroplitan Laurus has led many pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and has traveled extevsively throughout the Eastern Orthodox world (including several pilgrimages to Mt. Athos), and throughout the Russian Church Abroad. In 1983, he presided over the local glorification of Saint Paissy Velichkovsky at the Skete of the Holy Prophet Elias on Mount Athos. As abbot of the Monastery, Vladyka Laurus dedicated much time to the Monastery's publishing endeavors, fulfilling the Brotherhood's missionary purpose.

In the summer of 2001, Metropolitan Vitaly (Ustinov) retired as First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, due to his advanced age and the state of his health. In October of 2001, and the Council of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad elected - on the first ballot - Archbishop Laurus as the new Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York, and First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad.

-- M. Woerl
May 2002

-- Pamyatka k 20 letiyu Arkhieriskogo Sluzheniya
Arkhiepiskopa Lavra
1967 Class of Holy Trinity Seminary
Jordanville, N.Y. 1987

Seide, Father George
Monasteries and Convents of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
English translation by Theophilos Lasswell
Monastery of Saint Job of Pochaev

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