Friday, November 11, 2011

Eternal memory: Archimandrite Serge (Keleher)

RIP Archimandrite Serge (Keleher)
We corresponded and met in New York back in 2000
Dr Tighe:
He was bred up a New York City Irish-American Catholic, and I think at one point in the ’60s became Orthodox (and maybe ordained in the Orthodox Church) before “reverting” to (Ukrainian) Catholicism. I think that he was a student for a time at St. Vladimir’s Seminary (according to the late Fr Eugene Vansuch, who once mentioned to me having known him as a student there).
He was a priest of the Moscow Patriarchate’s American diocese, later exarchate. He told me he was received into Russian Orthodoxy in ’61, ordained in ’67 and received back, in his orders, in ’73, if I recall correctly by his friend Melkite Archbishop Joseph (Raya). Thereafter he was a priest of the tiny, very Orthodox in practice Russian Catholic Church (met him at St Michael’s) on loan to the Ukes to serve as their parish priest in Dublin. He told me that, in that ecumenical era, his Orthodox bishop didn’t depose him so, in his words, technically he was still an Orthodox priest in good standing. Brimming with stories, he was a worldly-wise monk (a celibate so he was a hieromonk), entirely Catholic/sound as a pound on teaching and (Orthodox) practice, who was one of those types who ‘knew where all the bodies were buried’ in various churches’ politics. Four of his tales to me:
  • Fr Lev Gillet, ‘a Monk of the Eastern Church’, was a crypto-Catholic (a footnote in Fr S’s translation of Fr Cyril Korolevsky’s massive, useful history of Greek Catholicism, his biography of Metropolitan Andrew [Sheptytsky], the Polish count turned Ukrainian Catholic supremo, for whom Fr C was secretary).
  • Metropolitan Nikodim was indeed a Catholic and Soviet double agent.
  • As of 2000 there were some Russian priests using Catholic antimensia.
  • Met. Kallistos to him: It’s not enough to have the Orthodox faith; one must be under the Orthodox hierarchy. Fr S: WHICH ONE? MK: Shut up!
Stuart Koehl:
Father Serge was a gigantic six-foot-four leprechaun who always said what he meant to all people (probably how he got exiled to Ireland, where he found his true calling), but always with a hearty laugh and a twinkle in his eye. He loved God, he loved his Church, and he loved serving the people, who loved him in return. A scholar as well as a pastor, he did much to help restore the authentic Tradition of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
He was born Brian Keleher and had a mid-Atlantic accent that made George Rutler sound like Boss Hogg. Вѣчная память.

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