Sylvester (Haruns) of Montreal

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His Eminence the Most Reverend Archbishop Sylvester (Haruns) of Montréal was the ruling hierarch of the Archdiocese of Canada of the Orthodox Church in America. He acted temporarily as administrator of the Orthodox Church in America and the diocese of New England. He also was Vice-chairman of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the OCA. He was active in the Orthodox youth activities, the Russian Student Christian Movement.


Archbishop Sylvester was born Ivan Antonovich Haruns on November 1, 1914, in Dvinsk, Lativa. While in high school he became interested in the Russian Student Christian Movement. Through this involvement he decided to devote his life to serving Christ and the Church. Although his parent initially opposed his continuing his education at the St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris, they relented and he left, never to see his family or homeland again.

While attending the St. Sergius Institute, Ivan made his vows and was tonsured a monk on March 8, 1938, by Metr. Evlogius (Georgievich), giving him the name Sylvester. He was ordained a deacon the next day and then a priest on April 10, 1938. After his graduation, he served parishes in eastern France and, after World War II began, served also Orthodox servicemen in the French armed forces. In 1941 after the Germans had occupied France they began to bring in many Russians as prisoners to labor camps. Feeling a call to help them he obtained permission from his bishop and the authorities to serve them. From then on he devoted his time fully to helping the prisoners. In 1944, after being falsely accused, he was confined by the Gestapo for six weeks in solitary confinement before being cleared by an investigation.

After the war he was assigned to a large parish in Paris where he developed an education program for the youth. He also headed the missions department of the Russian diocese in western Europe and co-edited the Diocesan Herald with Fr. Alexander Schmemann. He continued his life-long association with the Russian Student Christian Movement.

On April 27, 1952, he was consecrated Bishop of Messina within the West European Exarchate of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. His consecration took place at the church of St. Sergius Institute in Paris with the Exarch Metr. Vladimir (Tihonitsky) and Bp. Cassian (Bezobrazov) officiating. Two years later, after initially assisting the Metropolitan in his administrative duties, he was transferred to Nice from where he oversaw the parishes in southern France and Italy.

In 1963, Bp. Sylvester accepted an appointment as Bishop of Montreal and Canada within the North American Metropolia. In 1966 he was elevated to the rank of archbishop. In addition to his duties within the Canadian diocese, Abp. Sylvester participated in a number of duties for the Metropolia, including administration of the New England diocese and overseeing a number of Australian parishes that the Metropolia took under wing.

As the negotiations with the Moscow Patriarchate proceeded in the late 1960s, Abp. Sylvester became the moderator within the Metropolia of the controversies and conflicts that arose, clarifying misunderstandings and presenting the view that autocephaly was the correct canonical structure for church life in North America.

To assist the ailing Metropolitan Ireney (Bekish), Abp. Sylvester was appointed by the Holy Synod of the now Orthodox Church in America as temporary administrator of the OCA on May 15, 1974, to assist the Metropolitan in his duties until his retirement and election of a new metropolitan. The election of Metr Theodosius (Lazor) took place at the fifth All-American Council on October 25, 1977.

As he advanced in age, Abp. Sylvester decided to relinquish his hierarchical responsibilities to new, younger leadership. He retired on July 1, 1981, and for the years following served as pastor of Ss Peter and Paul Cathedral in Montreal. Abp. Sylvester died on May 18, 2000. His funeral was held at Ss Peter and Paul Cathedral according to the rites for monastics, with Bp. Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada celebrating. He was buried at St. Seraphim Cemetery in Rawdon, Quebec.

Succession box:
Sylvester (Haruns) of Montreal
Preceded by:
Bishop of Messina
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Anatoly (Apostlov)
Archbishop of Montréal

Succeeded by:
Theodosius (Lazor)
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  • 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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