Vitaly (Ustinov) of New York

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His Eminence the Most Reverend Vitaly (Ustinov) of New York was the first hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia from 1986 to 2001. His Eminence retired as First Hierarch in 2001, and lived at Holy Transfiguration Skete in Mansonville, Québec. His Eminence reposed in the Lord at the age of 97 in Mansonville on September 25, 2006.[1]


Metropolitan Vitaly, born Rostislav Petrovich Oustinow in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1910, was the son of an officer of the Black Sea Fleet, Peter Oustinow, and Lydia Andreevna, née Stopchansky, daughter of a gendarme general who served his whole life in the Caucasus.

In 1920, during the Civil War, Rostislav was sent to the military school founded in Feodosia by General Wrangel. When he joined the White Army and evacuated, the young Rostislav found himself in Constantinople. From there he traveled to Yugoslavia, where he studied in the Cadet Corps of the White Army.

In 1923, Rostislav's mother sponsored her son to come to Constantinople. From there, she moved with him to France,where he enrolled in St Louis College in Le Mans. Upon graduating, he joined his mother in Cannes.

In 1934, he was called upon to fulfill his military obligations in France. This he did by joining the 9th Cavalry Regiment, but the young Oustinow had no wish to remain in the world—his only desire was to withdraw to a monastery.

In 1938, he entered the Monastery of St Job of Pochaev in the Carpathian mountains of Central Europe.

In 1939, trudnik[2] Rostislav was tonsured to a rassophore monk with the name 'Vitaly.' A year later he was tonsured to the minor schema.

In 1941, in the city of Bratislava in Czechoslavia, Fr. Vitaly was ordained by Metropolitan Seraphim of Berlin and Germany to the rank of hieromonk and assigned to minister to two towns on the Polish border.

In 1944, during World War II the monastic brotherhood of St Job's monastery was forced to flee from the approaching Red Army. Fr. Vitaly found himself in Berlin, where, together with Archimandrite Nathaniel, he developed a broad mission among the Russian refugees and prisoners of war. The second onslaught of the Reds, in early 1945, forced the two young clergy men to move to Hamburg, where another field of activity opened up for them: to save thousands of refugees from forced repatriation to the USSR. A good knowledge of various languages, especially of English, along with tireless energy, allowed Fr. Vitaly and Fr. Nathaniel to save the lives of many Russians.

Settling in Hamburg, Hegumen Vitaly established church life at the Displaced Persons camp Fischbeck. A barracks church was immediately set up with a daily round of services, psalm-reading courses and even a year-long theological course for 12 youths. At the same time, Hegumen Vitaly gathered together a small monastic group, that began to publish church service books and a newsletter, Pochaevskije listki. In 1947, he moved to London, Great Britain.

From 1947 to 1951, Archimandrite Vitaly was the rector of the London parish. In 1951, on the feast day of Ss Peter and Paul, he was consecrated bishop and sent to Brazil as Bishop of Montevideo. Soon the young bishop opened his own print shop and established a small orphanage for boys where they taught them the daily cycle of services.

In 1954, Bp. Vitaly moved to Canada where he was appointed of Bishop of Edmonton and Western Canada. In 1957, he was appointed Bishop of Montreal and Canada. As Bishop of Montreal, Bp. Vitaly established a skete in Mansonville, Quebec. While in Monteal, Bp. Vitaly acquired and refurbished the large St Nicholas Cathedral that was not far from the Synodal podvorie.

In retrospect there was no place where Bp. Vitaly settled that he did not organize a small monastic brotherhood and active publishing concern.

The Council of Bishops in 1986 chose Bp. Vitaly as the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia succeeding Metr. Philaret (Voznesensky).

It has been reported by secular media and other questionable sources that due to Met Vitaly's degrading health and associated memory loss that he voluntarily retired in 2001 and was content with the election of Laurus (Skurla) of New York as the new First Hierarch Of ROCOR, however nothing can be further from the truth. Met Vitaly denounced the uncanonical election of Laurus Skurla as Metropolitan(both in writing and verbally) and encouraged his flock to not be deceived by what was a very clear and highly organized attempt by the enemies of the Church to deceive the entire Russian Orthodox Faithful in believing the lie that Met Vitaly had voluntarily resigned. The 'official' website of ROCOR was quickly changed, substituting Met Laurus' name in place of Met Vitaly's in the hopes that the masses of Orthodox lay people would believe this lie.

Unfortunately most of the Russian Orthodox faithful were beguiled by this blasphemy, and continued to view Laurus as their new Metropolitan. However the truth of the matter is that Met Vitaly remained the First Hierarch Of ROCOR right up until the day he reposed. And even now this same Church, called by some the Russian Orthodox Church In Exile, has been the same Church founded by Christ, concerning which Our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ said '. . .the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" Matt 16:18.

There is not enough space here to list all of the truth concerning what was done to Met Vitaly during the last 5 years of his life. There are even some that would consider Met Vitaly a 'passion bearer' because of the harsh physical treatment he endured at the hands of the 'authorities'. Those unfamiliar with this situation will surely doubt the veracity of what is being said here. . . .however those who followed these events closely can see and will always see the truth, no matter how much others try to distort and 'spin' this truth.

On September 25, 2006, Metropolitan Vitaly reposed in Mansonville, Canada. [3]


  1. Скончался Высокопреосвященнейший митрополит Виталий 25 September 2006
  2. "Trudnik" means "volunteer laborer" [1] or "lay laborer" [2].
  3. Repose of Metropolitan Vitaly, December 25, 2007

Succession box:
Vitaly (Ustinov) of New York
Preceded by:
see created
Bishop of Montevideo

Succeeded by:
see dissolved
Preceded by:
see created
Bishop of Edmonton and Western Canada

Succeeded by:
Sava (Sarachevich)
Preceded by:
Panteleimon (Rudyk)
Archbishop of Montreal and Canada

Succeeded by:
Gabriel (Chemodakov)
Preceded by:
Philaret (Voznesensky)
First Hierarch of ROCOR
Succeeded by:
Laurus (Skurla)
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