Dmitri (Royster) of Dallas

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His Eminence the Most Reverend Archbishop Dmitri (Royster) of Dallas and the South is the ruling bishop of the OCA's Diocese of the South. He also assigned as the Exarch of Mexico of the indigenous Mexican Orthodox Church/Exarchate. His consecration to the episcopate was the first of a convert in America.

Life

Abp. Dmitri was born Robert Royster on November 2, 1923. As a teenager he lived in Teague, Texas (outside of Dallas), and was faithful to his conservative Baptist upbringing. But he, along with his sister, felt that there must be more to the Christian faith than his Protestant denomination was offering. After a period of inquiry and study, the two young teens were received, together, as Orthodox Christians, at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Dallas in 1941. It was at this point that Robert adopted the name Dmitri (after St. Dmitri of Rostov). Dmitri was drafted into the US Army in March, 1943, where he served as a Japanese interpreter at the rank of Second Lieutenant. After his military service, he completed his education and served as an instructor of Spanish at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, later becoming a professor of Spanish at SMU. Dmitri also taught at Tulane University in New Orleans for a brief period. During these early years as an Orthodox Christian, Dmitri was active in missionary work among Mexican-Americans in Texas.

In 1954, he was ordained to the priesthood within the Metropolia. After his ordination Fr. Dmitri founded St. Seraphim Church in Dallas. He continued his missionary activities among the Mexican-Americans. In 1965, he was contacted by Bishop Jose (Cortes y Olmos) of the Mexican National Church who with his flock had become interested in becoming Orthodox. Fr. and then Bp. Dmitri presented their situation to the Holy Synod of the Metropolia. After many visits and exchanges, Bp. Dmitri presented his report recommending acceptance of the Mexican group into the Orthodox Church. After consideration, in February 1972, the Holy Synod, now of the Orthodox Church in America, accepted the Mexican group with formation of an Exarchate in Mexico, with Bp. Dmitri as Exarch.

During 1966, Fr. Dmitri attended St. Vladimir’s Seminary in New York while concurrently teaching Spanish at Fordham University. In 1969, Archimandrite Dmitri was elected to the episcopate. Then on June 22, he was consecrated Bishop of Berkeley as vicar to Abp. John (Shahovskoy) of San Francisco. The consecration of Bp. Dmitri was the first consecration of a convert to the episcopate in America. In 1970, Bp. Dmitri was assigned as Bishop of Washington, vicar to Metropolitan Ireney. On October 19, 1971 Bp. Dmitri was elected Bishop of Hartford and New England while continuing as the Exarch of Mexico.

With the formation of the Diocese of Dallas and the South, Bp. Dmitri was elected its first ruling bishop in the 1970's and was charged with the development of the diocese, which at the time consisted of a few churches in Florida and Texas and several missions. In the 1980's, Bp. Dmitri was elevated to the rank of Archbishop. Under his leadership the Diocese of the South has grown to approximately 60 parishes and missions (as of 2005), and is one of the most vibrant dioceses of the Orthodox Church in America.

Succession box:
Dmitri (Royster) of Dallas
Preceded by:
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Bishop of Berkeley
1969-1970
Succeeded by:
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Preceded by:
Jonah
Bishop of Washington
1970-1972
Succeeded by:
Basil (Rodzianko)
Preceded by:
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Bishop of Hartford
1972-197x
Succeeded by:
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Preceded by:
Archbishop of Dallas
197x-present
Succeeded by:
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Sources

  • Orthodox America 1794-1976 Development of the Orthodox Church in America, C. J. Tarasar, Gen. Ed. 1975, The Orthodox Church in America, Syosett, New York
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