Archbishop Joseph of Western and Central Europe

Hieromonk Iosif (Joseph) Elected Titular Romanian Orthodox Archbishop of Western and Central Europe


Hieromonk Joseph (Iosif Pop) was born February 19, 1966, in Romania in the village Viseu de Jos, in the region of Maramures. At baptism, he received the name of Elia (Ilia).

The bishop-elect attended primary and secondary school in his native village. Then he went to the Lyceum Gheorghe-Sincai in the city of Baia Mare. He finished the lyceum in 1984, passed the same year the entrance examination for the School of Engineers, and also left for military service for nine months. Consequently the lack of vocation in this domain made him renounce his studies to be an engineer. Contact with certain churchmen thus determined his orientation towards studies in Sibiu, where he found one of the two faculties of theology existing then in Romania, the other being in Bucharest. After a year of intense preparation in 1989, he had received and started to follow self-study courses. He obtained a diploma from the Faculty of Theology of Sibiu in 1993.

In the meantime, Father Joseph had made the decision to embrace the monastic life. His bishop, Andrew of Alba Iulia, decided his immediate, priestly ordination, having as a task the spiritual formation of the students of the Faculty of Theology in the Social Assistance section. At the same time, the new priest was an assistant to the faculty and professor at the Seminary.

On the fifth Sunday of Great Lent — Sunday of Saint Mary of Egypt — of 1994, he took his monastic vows at the monastery of the cathedral of Alba Iulia and received then the name of Iosif, with the patronage of Saint Joseph of Arimathea who, on Holy Friday, received the body of Jesus at the descent from the Cross, wrapped him in a linen cloth, brought him with Nicodemus and placed him in a new sepulcher, from which he rolled the rock (Matt. 27:57, Mark 15:43; Luke 23:51).

For the needs of the theological schools of the Diocese of Alba Iulia, Hieromonk Joseph came to France with the blessing of Bishop Andrew in the course of the summer of 1994 to prepare a doctorate at the Saint-Sergius Institute of Orthodox Theology in Paris. The subject of his thesis is "The Mystery of the Human Person Among Saint Symeon the New Theologina," a work accomplished under the direction of Father Boris Bobrinsky and Professor Olivier Clement. Father Joseph hoped to defend this thesis at the end of 1988, but God chose him in order to be the servant of all…

Since his arrival in France, Father Joseph had provided the liturgical and spiritual service of the monastery of monastics Notre-Dame-de-Toute-Protection in Bussy-en-Othe, in Yonne.

On the suggestion of the priests and faithful of the Romanian Archdiocese of Paris, Hieromonk Joseph accepted with humility to present his candidacy for the episcopal election in November 1997. His concept of the priesthood and episcopacy is based on the concept of Christian life as a gift of oneself to God and to men through love for Christ.

In conformance with Tradition, Father Joseph was elected bishop on Saturday, by the Assembly of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe, on November 29, 1997 (Feast of St. Saturnin of Toulouse (3rd century)). The election took place in Paris, in the crypt of Saint Suplice. He received with fear the result of the vote designating him as the future archbishop and accepted it in a spirit of obedience to Christ and to His Church.

The election was ratified on December 11, 1997, by the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, which equally elevated Father Joseph to the dignity of archimandrite. The date of the episcopal consecration and enthronement of the new bishop was set for Sunday, March 15, 1998. This ceremonly took place in Paris, the see of the Romanian Archbishop of Western and Central Europe, in the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Stephen, 7, rue Georges-Bizet, 75016.

Author: Father Marc-Antoine Costa de Beauregard
Translated from French by Daryle Lamoureux

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