Three Thoughts on the Third Day After the Death of Bishop Daniel of Erie

By Fr German (Cuiba)  

(These thoughts were posted to a clergy list on the third day of Bishop Deniel's repose, and the day of his funeral – Wednesday April 15/28 2010)

1. Vladyka Daniel was always himself, without any pretence, without any ambition, without any fear, without any considerations of political correctness. He was a multilingual, multitalented genius.


While being completely loyal and devoted to the Orthodox faith and serving the Orthodox Church as priest and bishop, he pursued his own interests, which could include sailing ships and translating an odd work from one language into another even though no one was interested in it. His life shows that a priest of the Church does not have to be a conformist, a man-pleaser, a servant of expediency.


2. Vladyka Daniel was chiefly devoted to the Old Rite, which has always seemed to the majority of Orthodox people to be an incomprehensible lost cause. He travelled around and ministered to scattered groups of Old Ritualists, seeking to keep them within the saving enclosure of the Orthodox Church.


His long years of scarcely-rewarded labours in this field at last bore fruit in 1982, when, following his example, one of the largest parishes of Old Believers in existence outside Russia was reunited with the Russian Church Abroad. The Old Rite Church of the Nativity of Christ in Erie, Pennsylvania, was founded around the turn of the 20th century and remained isolated from the main body of Orthodox believers until its pastor, Father Pimen Simon, led his flock into the Church. Vladyka Daniel served as an inspiration for this parish and a guarantee that they could forever continue to maintain the sacred traditions of Old Russia as they had been preserved for centuries, substantially unchanged.


When Father Dimitri Alexandrow became Bishop Daniel of Erie and subsequently moved to the parish, he became their archpastor. In this Vladyka Daniel, although he had only one (rather large) parish under his direct guidance, fulfilled a historic role. Although the Russian Orthodox Church had allowed the use of the Old Rite at least since 1800 under the terms of the "Edinoverie" (oneness in faith), the Old Ritualists were not treated with complete acceptance and trust.


As far as I know, before the episcopal consecration of Bishop Daniel, there had been only one other Old Ritualist bishop in the Russian Orthodox Church, the Holy New Hieromartyr Simon (Shleyev), Bishop of Okhta. Although there have been hierarchs who drew close to the Old Ritualists, such as our Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky), of blessed memory, and the Holy New Hieromartyr Andrew (Prince Ukhtomsky) of Ufa, and in our days Metropolitan Juvenaly of Krutitsy and Kolomna, Bishop Daniel was unique in being a bishop of and for the Old Rite. His existence was a seal upon the unity of the Old and New Rites in one Russian Orthodox Church.

3. Vladyka Daniel rendered a great service to our Russian Church Abroad by what he did not do.


Always independent-minded, he never subscribed to the ideology of gracelessness, and believed that the Church Abroad should be in communion with the Church in Russia. This was his position even in the dark days of suspicion and isolation, when fear of Communism and horror of Soviet persecution were the prevailing winds in our church life.


When the wind changed and even churchmen who had been vocally anti-Moscow became ardent adherents of the Patriarchate, Vladyka Daniel still remained independent. He feared that our little church would be swallowed up by the much-larger Patriarchate. He desired our Church to enjoy that independence of spirit that had characterized his own life.


Nevertheless, when he was approached by representatives of those opposed to any reconciliation with Moscow, Vladyka Daniel steadfastly refused to become the leader, initiator or propagator of a schism. By that time Vladyka Daniel was quite enfeebled, and envoys of Bishop Agathangel tried very hard to persuade him to join their group. (In fact, one observer said that the actions of the representatives of Bishop Agathangel were so devious, manipulative and dishonest that even if one sympathized with their goals, one would turn away from them because of their deceitfulness.)


Because Bishop Daniel would not consent to join Bishop Agathangel in forming a synod and ordaining new bishops, Bishop Agathagel was left in the untenable position of claiming to be the sole remaining hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, and after some time he had to seek out the aid of one of the Greek Old Calendarist groups to create his hierarchy. Thus, Vladyka Daniel, by remaining, as always, who he was, what he was and where he was, deprived the followers of Bishop Agathangel of the support and prestige his accession would have contributed to their cause and their claims.

Many people will tell stories about Vladyka Daniel for many years, and the stories will be amusing, wise and true. Many who met him heard this little story, which I repeat for the benefit of those who didn't know him. It goes something like this:


Vladyka Daniel to a visitor: Would you like to join our new society, the "Three F" Society?
Visitor: What do the three Fs stand for?
Vladyka: Fault-finding Farisees.
Visitor: But "Pharisee" is not spelled with an F …
Vladyka: Ah, you see, you are already one of us!


Memory eternal to the Right Reverend Bishop Daniel!

Abbot German (Ciuba)
who was privileged to know Vladyka just a little


Posted with permission


  1. Wonderful  memorial,  Father German.   I have my own story to tell,  and will do so  in the near future…
    XB!  BB!
    Archpriest Michael Senyo (born and raised in Erie,  PA)
    Los Angeles

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