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Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral)

Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) was formally enthroned on May 18, 2008. He also remains the ruling bishop of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand.

Metropolitan Hilarion’s parents – Alexei Kapral and Euphrosynia (nee Kasyaniuk) – were from the village of Obenizha in Volyhn, Ukraine. In 1929, during the Polish occupation, the local populace was persecuted and oppressed by Poles attempting to turn Western Ukraine into a Polish province. Thus, the 19-year-old Alexei and his young wife decided to emigrate to Canada.

At the time, the Canadian government afforded immigrants the opportunity to obtain large tracts of land in Western Canada. It was there that the young family settled. Upon their arrival in the province of Alberta, the Kapral family received 160 acres of untilled land, as well as $100 in cash, a hammer, and an axe, with which to build themselves a home. In the developing Spirit River region, there were some 200 Ukrainians, and in view of the oncoming cold, they quickly built themselves houses. The great economic crisis of 1929-1930 affected the settlers as well, making an already hard life even more difficult. To find work, Alexei Kapral had to travel far from home, and he earned but 25 cents per day. Nonetheless, the family grew ever larger – five boys and two girls filled the house with children’s voices, speaking Ukrainian at home. Their parents also spoke Russian and Polish. The youngest member of the family was Igor, the future Metropolitan Hilarion. He spent his childhood in the country and had to walk over 3 miles to school every day. Later he transferred to another school in Blueberry Creek, but returned to finish high school. In 1966, he found a spiritual director, Right Reverend Sava (Saracevic), Bishop of Edmonton, a Serb who greatly revered St. John (Maximovitch, +1966).

From his youth, Igor felt drawn to the Church, and loved to read books and periodicals on religion and morals. In 1967, when Igor Kapral was 19 years old, he entered the Holy Trinity Theological Seminary in Jordanville, New York, USA. On graduating from the Seminary in 1972, Igor entered the Holy Trinity Monastery as a novice (poslushnik). On December 2, 1974 he was tonsured a rassaphore monk with the name Hilarion, in honor of Venerable Schema-monk Hilarion of the Kiev Caves , the famous Metropolitan of Kiev. On December 4, 1975, Archbishop Averky (Taushev, +1976), for whom the future Vladyka served as a cell-attendant, ordained him a hierodeacon. In 1976, Bishop Laurus of Manhattan ordained him a hieromonk. The same year, Fr Hilarion received a Master’s degree in Slavic studies and Russian literature from Syracuse University. The future Vladyka worked simultaneously as editor of the English-language version of the magazine Orthodox Life, and as a typesetter for the Monastery press.

In 1984, at the young age of 36, Fr Hilarion was consecrated a bishop by Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky) and nine other bishops Archbishop Seraphim (Ivanov) of Chicago and Detroit, Archbishop Antony (Sinkevich) of Los Angeles and Southern California, Archbishop Vitaly (Ustinov) of Montreal and Canada, Archbishop Lavr (Skurla) of Syracuse and Holy Trinity, Archbishop Paul (Pavlov) of Sydney, Australia, and New Zealand, Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) of Washington, Bishop Mark (Arndt) of Berlin and Germany, and Bishop Alypy (Gamanovich) of Cleveland, and was appointed to the see of Manhattan, charged with overseeing the parishes in Pennsylvania and serving as deputy secretary for the Synod of Bishops.

In 1995, Bishop Hilarion was transferred to the See of Washington while retaining his residence in New York. While serving as Vicar of the Diocese of Eastern America, Vladika Hilarion was noted for his frequent visiting of parishes, and his accessibility to the faithful.

In June 1996 he was transferred to the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand (which was experiencing some problems at that stage) and raised to the rank of archbishop. In 2003 he was awarded the honor of wearing a diamond cross on his klobuk.

Upon Metropolitan Laurus's death Abp. Hilarion was appointed as the temporary head of the ROCOR Synod. On May 12, 2008, Archbishop Hilarion was elected and elevated as the new First Hierarch of ROCOR.

Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) of Eastern America and New York is First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and was formally enthroned on May 18, 2008. He also remains the ruling bishop of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand.

Vladyka Hilarion has continued his accessibility to the faithful in Australia, and also visited missions in Korea and China, being the first hierarch of the Church Abroad to visit China since Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco was made to leave by the communists after World War II.

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