Basil of San Francisco


Bishop BASIL (Rodzianko)

Bishop BASIL Dies Unexpectedly

His Grace, Bishop BASIL (Rodzianko), retired Bishop of San Francisco and the West of the Orthodox Church in America, fell asleep in the Lord on Friday morning, September 17, 1999, at the age of 84.

According to the Rev. Constantine White of Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Washington, DC, a friend who had come to pick up Bishop BASIL to take him to obtain his US citizenship found him dead at his residence. Bishop BASIL had been in good health and on the day before his death he had spoken with numerous individuals, Father White said.

Bishop BASIL was one of the most prominent Orthodox hierarchs of this century. For over 40 years he produced religious radio programs which were broadcast into the Soviet Union through the BBC, the Slavic Gospel Association, Radio Vatican, and the Paris-based Voice of Orthodoxy. He was also extensively involved in ecumenical work and was especially interested in the different understandings of the Holy Spirit in the Christian East and West. He lectured widely on Russian Orthodox spirituality, the role of prayer in the life of a Christian, the Jesus Prayer, creation and evolution, and numerous other topics.

Bishop BASIL was born in Otrada, Russia on May 22, 1915, into a prominent aristocratic family. His grandfather, Michael Rodzianko, was a president of the Imperial Duma during the rule of Emperor Nicholas II. In 1919 he and his family were forced to emigrate to Yugoslavia where he attended Russian schools. In 1937 he received his theological degree from the University of Belgrade and pursued post graduate studies in theology at the University of London.

In 1937 he married Mary Kolubayev, who passed away in 1978.

He was ordained to the holy diaconate and priesthood in Serbia in March 1941, serving as a priest in several villages in northern Yugoslavia until 1949, when he was arrested by the communists for alleged illegal religious propaganda. Sentenced to eight years of hard labor, he was released after serving just two years due to the special intervention of the Archbishop of Canterbury and a change in Tito's policies. Upon his release he moved with his family to England where, in addition to serving as a priest, he worked for the BBC's Russian language division. In 1955 he initiated the BBC's religious broadcasting to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Listener response was so positive that the BBC expanded the broadcasts to include regular weekly programs and entire liturgical services on major religious holidays.

While in England he participated in numerous interfaith projects and activities. He lectured on the Filioque to Christian scholars at the Congress of Patrologists in Oxford. He also maintained a close association with the Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius, speaking before many groups. In 1968 he participated in a major ecumenical project with Ampleforth Abbey, a Roman Catholic monastery, to establish a pan-Orthodox school for students of all jurisdictions.

In 1979, one year after the death of his wife, he took monastic vows in England and was received into the Orthodox Church in America from the Moscow Patriarchate. On January 12, 1980, he was consecrated as Bishop of Washington, DC, and auxiliary to the OCA Primate, Metropolitan THEODOSIUS. From November 1980 until his retirement on April 25, 1984, Bishop BASIL served as OCA Bishop of San Francisco and the West. He resumed his religious broadcasts to the Soviet Union after his retirement and he assumed duties as the Director of the Holy Archangels Broadcasting Center in Washington, DC.

With the continuing changes in Russia after the fall of communism, Bishop BASIL began direct regular broadcasting over Russian national radio and television. Many of his weekly religious talks were produced in Washington, DC and sent to Moscow for broadcasting. Able to visit Russia for the first time since his youth, Bishop BASIL also delivered numerous weekly television interviews and catechetical talks which were filmed in Moscow. He is widely known throughout Russia and Eastern Europe for touching the lives of countless individuals and bringing many back to the faith of their forefathers.

Until the day of his death, Bishop BASIL also worked tirelessly among Russian immigrants in the Washington, DC area.

The Funeral Service for the Burial of a Hierarch will be concelebrated by His Beatitude, Metropolitan THEODOSIUS and other members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America at Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Washington, DC at 7:00 PM on Thursday, September 23. Metropolitan THEODOSIUS will also preside at the Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, September 24.

On Saturday, Bishop BASIL will be interred next to other members of his family at Novo-Diveevo Monastery Cemetery, Spring Valley, NY.

May the memory of His Grace, Bishop BASIL, be eternal!

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