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Archimandrite John

Schema-Igumen John

 

Schema-Igumen John was born Robert Albro Lewis in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 19, 1941. His Father, Ellsworth Albro Lewis, was of Welsh descent and his mother, Helen Marie Hayles, was Carpatho-Russian, her family roots in Uzhgorod. He had a twin brother, Dr. Richard Ellsworth Lewis.


After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh and being accepted to medical school, he felt that he was being called to the priesthood. Thus, much to the dismay of his family, he abandoned a secular education and pursued religious studies. He held diplomas and degrees from Saints Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Seminary; Duquesne University; Fordham University; the Pontifical Russian College and Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, Italy; the University of Athens, Greece; Saint Basil’s Melkite Seminary; and Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. His education provided him with a vast knowledge of church canon law, Scriptures, theology, patristics, philosophy, and ethical and moral theology. He spoke or was familiar with 14 languages, including Greek, Russian, Church Slavonic and Latin, which contributed to his life’s work of translating liturgical services into English. He considered French his first language, as he was reared in Paris, France and Montreal, Canada, and his parents spoke French in the home to acquaint their sons with the language. Throughout his life, he always felt most comfortable communicating in the French language.


He was ordained as a Uniate priest of the Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholic Church on May 27/June 9, 1968, by Archbishop Stephen Kocisko, Bishop of Passaic, New Jersey, at Saint Michael’s Byzantine Catholic Cathedral. He was received as a priest into the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of America (now known as the Orthodox Church in America) on December 6/19, 1968, by Father John Meyendorff at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Chapel in Tuckahoe, New York. He left the OCA when the calendar was changed, as he strongly believed that the traditional Orthodox Christian calendar is essential to Orthodox spiritual life, and he was received into the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA).

 

He was ordained to the diaconate by the Right Rev. Bishop Laurus of Manhattan (ROCA), at the Synodal Cathedral of “Our Lady of the Sign” in New York, on Sunday, December 20, 1971/January 2, 1972.  He was ordained a priest, with the name of Father George, on Friday, December 25, 1971/January 7, 1992, by His Eminence, Metropolitan Philaret, First Hierarch of ROCA, at the Synodal Cathedral of “Our Lady of the Sign” in New York.


In 1978, with the blessing of Archbishop Andrei of Novo Diveyevo Monastery and of Metropolitan Philaret, he was tonsured a monk into the Great and Angelic Schema, the highest level of Orthodox Christian monasticism. Metropolitan Philaret then issued a decree to found Holy Theotokos Monastery and to dedicate it to the 11th-century Kievan icon known as “The Joy of All That Sorrow.” 


The Very Reverend Archimandrite John, Igumen of Holy Theotokos Monastery in North Fort Myers, Florida, reposed in peace on Saturday, August 19/September 1, 2007, in the evening (the feast of the Holy Prophet Samuel). He had received Confession and Holy Communion from the Very Reverend Protopresbyter Aleksandar Radenkovich of the Serbian Orthodox Church, under whose epitrachelion he peacefully reposed after the prayers were read for the departure of the soul from the body.


Under his abbacy, the men’s Monastery was able to accomplish many works for the community, including a food pantry that helped thousands of needy individuals with physical, emotional, medical, and psychological services to help them correct their life situations. The Monastery also engaged in an educational outreach in a context of the Orthodox Christian faith, had an apiary, an ecclesiastical woodworking shop, icon restoration studio, religious bookstore, and library.


Among Archimandrite John’s published works are the Litany to the Names of Christ Jesus, translated from French, which enumerates 144 attributes of Jesus Christ inspired by Holy Scriptures; Prayers Behind the Ambon, a set of liturgical prayers that fell out of use during the Moslem occupation of Greece; and the Akathist to the Joy of All That Sorrow, a supplicatory prayer service to the Virgin Mary. Up until a few weeks before his repose, Archimandrite John was re-translating the New Testament, and remarked that he had found thousands of errors in modern translations, some of which he believed had a profound influence on theology. 




In Aegina, at the relics of Saint Nektarios, for whom he had a special devotion

 


 
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Archimandrite John

Schema-Abbot John, 2000

Father John as a parish priest, in the 1970s

 

 

With Jacob and Thekla Korobko

With Jacob and Thekla Korobko

 

1980s

With Protopresbyter Aleksandar Radenkovich, under whose epitrachelion he would later repose

 

Honoring the Fathers of
Kiev-Pecherski Lavra

At the tonsure of Mother Andrea

 

At a service in a parish church 

 

 Schemanun Theodora-Amphilochia fell asleep in the Lord on Tuesday, March 31,2015.    


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