His Beatitude the Most Reverend Metropolitan Ireney (Bekish) of New York was born on October 2, 1892, in Mezhirech in Lublin province, which today is in southeast Poland. After graduating from seminary, he married and was employed as a reader, until 1916 when he entered the clergy. After ordination as a deacon, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Seraphim of Belsk on August 1, 1916. On March 20, 1952, Fr. John arrived with his family in the United States and was assigned as the priest of Holy Trinity Church in McAdoo, Pennsylvania. On March 31, 1953, his wife Xenia died and was buried in the Holy Trinity cemetery in MacAdoo.
After being elected Bishop of Tokyo, then a diocese in the Metropolia, Fr. John was tonsured a monk on May 28, 1953, and given the name of Ireney. Transferred back to the United States on June 14, 1960, Abp. Ireney was appointed Archbishop of Boston and of the Diocese of New England. He was also made a special assistant to Metr. Leonty who was aging and ailing. With Metr. Leonty's death on May 14, 1965, Abp. Ireney was elected Locum Tenens by the Great Council of Bishops pending the election of a new Metropolitan.
Under his leadership the central administration continued to mature and negotiations actively began with the Patriarch of Moscow to resolve the ill feelings that had developed since the Bolshevik Revolution, and which resolved into the granting of autocephaly to the Metropolia as the Orthodox Church in America.
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