Kyrill (Yonchev) of Pittsburgh

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He was born Ilia Yonchev, the son of the late Mancho and Anna Yonchev, on February 26, 1920 in the historic city of Panaguriste in Bulgaria. He graduated in 1940 from St. John of Rila Theological Seminary in Sofia. He was tonsured a monk on January 19, 1941, ordained a Deacon on January 20, 1941 and in April of 1943, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood. He graduated from the St. Clement of Ochrid School of Theology in 1944, and was appointed an instructor of theology in the seminary in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. And in 1944, he was appointed Abbot of the Bachkovo Monastery. While Abbot of the Bachkovo Monastery, he together, with other leading civil and religious leaders in Bulgaria. helped to protect the Jewish population of Bulgaria from extermination at the hands of Nazi occupiers.

In 1946, Fr. Kyrill was sent to Bern, Switzerland, for advanced studies in theology and philosophy. In 1950, following the communist take over of Bulgaria, Fr. Kyrill emigrated to the United States. A short time later he was assigned as pastor of St. George Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Toledo, Ohio. On December 6, 1959 he was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite, and in 1963, he was named Administrator of the Bulgarian Diocese in the United States. A short time later, on August 9, 1964, he was consecrated Bishop of Toledo and Toronto and the Bulgarian Diocese, Diocese of the United States of America and Canada.

On December 20, 1976, Bishop KYRILL united the Bulgarian Diocese to the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America. In October, 1977, Bishop KYRILL was appointed Locum Tenens of the Pittsburgh Archdiocese; and in 1978, he was chosen to head the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, a position he has held for 29 years. In 1992, he was elevated to the rank of Archbishop.

He was the senior hierarch and a member of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America. He was also a member of the Lessor Synod of Bishops, and served on numerous Church committees. Including the Canonization Commission, the Theological Board and as a Trustee of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. He was also a member of the executive council of the Christian Associates of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

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