Disclaimer: Exerts of this piece are attributed to TASS, Russian News Agency.
The First-Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York Hilarion passed away on Monday at the age of 74, according to Archpriest Victor (Potapov) of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Washington.
Metropolitan Hilarion, born as Igor Kapral, was the First-Hierarch of the ROCOR to be approved by the Moscow Patriarchate’s Holy Synod.
He became a part of the episcopate of the Moscow Patriarchate after ROCOR and the Russian Orthodox Church signed the Act of Canonical Communion in May, 2017.
Metropolitan Hilarion was much beloved in Australia. His Eminence often said that “Australia was home”.
“Today, at 2:00 p.m. [21:00 p.m. Moscow time on Monday], went to the Lord our beloved First-Hierarch Hilarion,” he said.
“I have no more information to share with you. Further details will be provided later,” Archpriest Victor added.
The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia confirmed later in the day with a statement the death of Metropolitan Hilarion.
“Today, May 16, 2022, the feast day of St Theodosius of the Kievan Caves, at two o’clock New York time, following a lengthy illness, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, reposed in the Lord, in a NYC [New York City] hospital,” the statement reads.
“His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese, performed the ‘Canon of Supplication at the Parting of the Soul.’
His Grace was joined by Archpriest Serafim Gan and Hierodeacon Panteleimon (Jigalin). A pannikhida will be performed at the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady ‘of the Sign’ in New York,” the statement added.
His early life
The youngest child of Alexei and Euphrosynia Kapral, Ukrainian immigrants, Igor Kapral was born on 6 January 1948 in Spirit River, Alberta, Canada. He spoke Ukrainian at home and English at school.
He spent a childhood he described as having been “pleasant … absolutely free of any harmful influences”, walking two and a half miles to school each day.
Later, Kapral transferred to a school in Blueberry Creek, but he returned to finish high school.
From his youth, Kapral felt drawn to the Church and loved to read books and periodicals on religion and morals. From a young age, around 6 or 7, he knew that he wanted to become a priest. He attended Holy Trinity Church in Spirit River, a congregation of the ROCOR composed of ethnic Ukrainians.
Services were held monthly or bi-monthly, and often Archbishop Panteleimon (Rudyk) would celebrate these services. Igor revered Archbishop Panteleimon, who foretold the boy, “someday you will be a priest”.
First-Hierarch of the ROCOR
On 12 May 2008, Archbishop Hilarion was elected and elevated as the new First-hierarch of the ROCOR, having received 9 votes out of 11.
On 14 May of that year, he was approved by the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate to the post of the primate and elevated to the rank of metropolitan. On 18 May, he was enthroned in New York City.
On 10 December 2008, he was appointed a member of the Preparatory Commission for the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.
During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, His Emenince, an ethnic Ukrainian who spoke Ukrainian at home as a child, issued a statement where he did not acknowledge the war but invited the faithful to “refrain from excess watching of television, following newspapers or the internet” and “close their hearts to the passions ignited by the mass media.”
For his years of unwavering dedication to the church, Metropolitan Hilarion was awarded the Order of Honour and the Order of Alexander Nevsky by Russian President Vladimir Putin, a great honour.
May his memory be eternal!
Note: If anyone knew his Eminence and would like to contribute to an upcoming piece about his life, please contact Despina via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.