Herman (Swaiko)

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Archbishop of Washington and New York
Герман (Свайко).jpg
Rabbis from the Tbilisi Synagogue greeting Metropolitan Herman
Installed September 8, 2002
Predecessor Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor)
Successor Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen)
Other posts Deputy Abbot of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Orthodox Monastery
Ordination April 1964
Consecration February 19, 1973
Personal details
Birth name Joseph Swaiko
Born (1931-02-01) 1 February 1931 (age 87)
Baidford, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Denomination Eastern Orthodox
Alma mater Saint Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary
Ordination history of
Diaconal ordination
Date of ordination March 1964
Priestly ordination
Date of ordination April 1964
Episcopal consecration
Consecrated by Ireney (Bekish)
Date of consecration February 10, 1973
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Herman as principal consecrator
Irineu (Duvlea) November 2, 2002
Tikhon (Mollard) February 14, 2004
Benjamin (Peterson) May 1, 2004
Alejo (Pacheco-Vera) May 28, 2005

Metropolitan Herman (born Joseph Swaiko, February 1, 1931 in Bairdford, Pennsylvania) is the former primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). As the head of the OCA, he was the former [1]Archbishop of Washington and New York, and Metropolitan of All America and Canada. He was elected Metropolitan on July 22, 2002, replacing Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor), who retired due to health problems related to a series of strokes.[2]


Joseph Swaiko was born February 1, 1931 in Bairdford, Pennsylvania, to Basil and Helen Herich Swaiko[3].

He completed his primary and secondary education in the West Deer Township school system, and enrolled in Robert Morris University. He graduated from Robert Morris with an associate degree in secretarial science. Upon graduation, he served as a company clerk in the Adjutant General's Corps of the United States Army, and was stationed in Labrador.[4]

After his honorable discharge from the army in 1959, he enrolled at Saint Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary[4]. There in 1961 he appointed personal secretary to bishop Kiprian (Borisevich)[5].

In March 1964, he was ordained as a deacon, and in April 7, 1964 was ordained a priest. Subsequently, he served on the seminary's administrative staff and was an instructor of Church Slavonic. He also served as Rector of St. John the Baptist Church in Dundaff and Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Union Dale, Pennsylvania.[4]

He was tonsured as a monk on December 4, 1970, and received the name Herman in recognition of St. Herman of Alaska. On October 17, 1971, Herman was elevated to the rank of Igumen and was named Deputy Abbot of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Orthodox Monastery. In October 1972, Herman was raised to the rank of Archimandrite[4].

On February 10, 1973, he was consecrated Bishop of Wilkes-Barre in his Cathedral Church of the Holy Resurrection and assigned as auxiliary bishop of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Archdiocese[5].

After the death of Archbishop Kiprian (Borisevich), Herman was elected Bishop of Philadelphia on March 17, 1981, and Rector of Saint Tikhon's Seminary in May 1982. In 1994, he was elevated to the rank of Archbishop. From May to September 2001, Archbishop Herman served as the temporary administrator of the OCA, while Metropolitan Theodosius was on a medical leave of absence.[4]

Election to Metropolitan[edit]

On April 2, 2002, Metropolitan Theodosius (who had suffered a series of strokes) submitted a petition to the Holy Synod of the OCA, requesting his retirement. The Holy Synod granted his request, and announced an election for his replacement to be held on July 22, at the OCA's Thirteenth All-American Council in Orlando.[6]

No candidate received the required two-thirds majority during the first round of voting, which necessitated a second round. During the second round, Bishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada received the majority of votes, but again not the required two-thirds. Subsequently, the Holy Synod decided to elect Archbishop Herman (Metropolitan Theodosius was selected in a similar manner in 1977, having not received a two-thirds majority of votes).

Archbishop Herman was enthroned on September 8, 2002, at a ceremony in St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

Metropolitan Herman was forced to retire after an investigative committee confirmed a long list of financial improprieties.[citation needed]

Episcopal succession[edit]

Preceded by
Theodosius (Lazor)
Primate of the Orthodox Church in America
July 22, 2002 – September 4, 2008
Succeeded by
Jonah (Paffhausen)


  1. ^ https://oca.org/holy-synod/past-primates/herman-swaiko
  3. ^ Standard-Speaker from Hazleton, Pennsylvania on February 12, 1973; Page 19
  4. ^ a b c d e "Biography of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman". Archived from the original on October 12, 2006. Retrieved November 2, 2006. 
  5. ^ a b Constance J. Tarasar. Orthodox America, 1794-1976: Development of the Orthodox Church in America. Orthodox Church in America, Department of History and Archives, 1975
  6. ^ "Primatial Elections in the OCA". Archived from the original on October 6, 2006. Retrieved November 2, 2006.