In the Special Assembly held at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Minneapolis called for the sole purpose of nominating a man to become the next bishop of the Diocese of the Midwest, the Assembly selecting Archimandrite Matthias Moraik from among the three candidates. The 61 year old Fr. Matthias’s name will now be brought to the OCA’s Synod of Bishops in November for their consideration to make him bishop-elect of the Diocese.
In what was the first election of a bishop for the Diocese in decades (and perhaps the first episcopal election in Diocesan history), the delegates assembled first to pray – a prayer service which lasted longer than the actual voting process. One might wonder, why pray for seasonable weather and the abundance of the fruits of the earth when all that was on the agenda was the election of a bishop? For me, it put the selection process in its proper context. The election of a bishop is not more important than the peace of the world and the salvation of our souls. Though the bishop is essential for the Church, he still functions in the context of the entire world, which is the primary concern of both God and the Church.
The prayers did affect me in the sense that they made me think about our goal – to discern what God’s will is for our diocese. We are trying to determine which man has God chosen to be our bishop. It didn’t matter what I liked or thought, I had to think about God’s choice. It made me think seriously about which man I would vote for, to rethink my vote before casting it.
No one got the required 2/3 vote on the first ballot, so a second ballot was given with only the names of the top two nominees: Fr. Paul Gassios and Fr. Matthias Moriak. The mood of the Assembly remained serene. On the second ballot Fr. Mattias got the majority vote and then by unanimous acclaimation was chosen as our nominee to put forth to the Synod of Bishops.
In selecting Fr. Matthias the assembly chose someone who was not part of the Diocese (as Fr. Gassios was), nor even part of the OCA (as Frs. Mahaffey and Gassios are). Fr. Moriak only recently joined the OCA. He also was the only one of the three candidates who clearly was a monastic, though he also is a widowed priest.
The actual consecration of the new bishop is being planned for May, 2011 – almost 1 1/2 years after the death of Archbishop Job.