Richard Smisko was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. After graduating from Perth Amboy High School, he entered Christ the Saviour Seminary in Johnstown, Pennsylvania to study for the Holy Priesthood. Upon graduation, he was ordained on January 11, 1959 by Bishop Orestes P. Chornock in Perth Amboy, N.J. His first pastorate was at Saints Peter and Paul Church in Windber, Pennsylvania, where he served until 1962
Priesthood and Episcopacy
A new phase of his life began when he embarked on a year's study at the renowned Theological School of Halki, Constantinople. During his stay in the city, the young priest was assigned by the late Patriarch Athenagoras I to serve the spiritual needs of the large Slavic Orthodox community in the Galata section of Istanbul. He also traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East, visiting the sacred sites of the Holy Land and living for a time on Mount Athos, the ancient monastic center of the Orthodox Church.
Upon his return to the United States, he resumed his studies at Youngstown State University, Ohio, and the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. He was then assigned as Prefect of Discipline at Christ the Saviour Seminary in Johnstown, and served several parishes in the Johnstown area, before relocating in 1971 to New York City, where he served as pastor of St. Nicholas Church.
He was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite in 1976, and was elected by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople as Auxiliary Bishop for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America and was consecrated as Bishop of Amissos (modern day Samsun) on March 13, 1983.
Following the death of Bishop John (Martin) in September 1984, Bishop Nicholas was chosen as the third ruling hierarch of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese and was enthroned in Christ the Saviour Cathedral by Archbishop Iakovos of America on April 19, 1985.
In recognition for his labors Metropolitan Nicholas received the Saints Cyril and Methodius Award given by the Orthodox Church of Czechoslovakia, the St. Sava Award from Patriarch Pavle of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
Metropolitan Nicholas died on March 13, 2011 at Windber Hospital Hospice in Windber, Pennsylvania, from complications from cancer.