Melchisedek (Pleska) of Pittsburgh
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His Grace, the Right Reverend Bishop Melchizedek (Pleska) of Pittsburgh is the ruling bishop of the OCA's Diocese of Western Pennsylvania (succeeding Abp. Kyrill (Yonchev) who had reposed in 2007). His Grace was consecrated on 27 June, 2009, at the Cathedral of St Alexander Nevsky, Pittsburgh, by Metropolitan Jonah of Washington and New York and other members of the Holy Synod.
Thomas Alexander Pleska was born in Dayton, Ohio, on August 20, 1942, to Alexander and Johanna Pleska, of ethnic Byelorussian and Ukrainian descent, and was baptised in St Theodosius Cathedral. When he was growing up in Dayton, there was no Orthodox parish, and he received his spiritual formation in local Protestant churches, being taken to the Russian Orthodox church in Cleveland for major feasts. After high school, he went to University of Michigan School of Music, then Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and completed a BA, majoring in Philosophy. After graduating, he went into stock brokerage and, subsequently, real estate. It was in his adult life that he became a member of Christ the Savior Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In the early 1980s, Thomas went to St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, and was encouraged to consider ordination. He was ordained to the diaconate in 1985 on November 21 by Bishop Job, to the priesthood by Metropolitan Theodosius of New York. After his 1986 graduation, Fr Thomas was interim pastor of churches in Pottstown, Old Forge and Simpson, Pennsylvania. Simultaneously, he was also lecturer in Dogmatic Theology at St Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary, and chaplain at Holy Myrrhbearers' Monastery in Otego, New York.
During this time, he made his acquaintance with Elder Sophrony and his monastery in Essex, England. Under the influence of various monastic elders, including Elder Dionysios of Simonopetra Monastery and Archimandrite Dimitry Egouroff of Old Valaam, he made the decision to take monastic tonsure after ordination. During 1989 to 1998, Fr Thomas served as rector of Sts Peter and Paul Church in Meridan, Connecticut.
In 1998, Fr Thomas entered the monastic life in Greece, and served at the Monastery of the Holy Cross, an international women's monastery in Thebes. In 2003, he was transferred to be chaplain of the women's Monastery of St George the Great Martyr, and to serve his own brotherhood at the Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos, Petras. In 2004, Fr Melchizedek was tonsured to the great schema by his abbot, Archimandrite Dionysios, taking the name Melchizedek, and was subsequently made archimandrite and spiritual father by his local metropolitan in Greece.
On November 15, 2008, he was nominated by the Extraordinary Assembly of the Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania to be the ruling bishop of the Archdiocese. On April 2, 2009, Fr Melchizedek was elected by the Holy Synod as ruling bishop, and subsequently returned to the USA. On June 27, 2009, Fr Melchizedek was consecrated a bishop at St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Allison Park, Pennsylvania.