Father Ignatius Valentine
A priest leads the services and is a pastor to the people. He serves as the representative of the bishop.
Born in California and raised in Wisconsin, Father Ignatius Valentine began as pastor of St. Nicholas Church in August 2023. He was brought up in the Lutheran Church, and after graduating from Biola University with a bachelor’s in biblical studies, a process of study and spiritual inquiry led him to the Orthodox Church. He and his family were joined to the Orthodox Church on Holy Saturday 1997 right here at St. Nicholas. After completing the St. Stephen’s Course of Orthodox Theology, Father was ordained a deacon in 2001. He did coursework in a master’s program sponsored by the St. John of Damascus School of Theology at Balamand University, Tripoli, Lebanon, and was ordained a priest in 2005. For 17 years, he was the pastor of St. Raphael of Brooklyn Orthodox Church in Iowa City, Iowa.
Father and his wife, Khouria Maria, have four grown children, one grandchild and a dog. His favorite parts of his priestly duties include serving at the altar, performing baptisms, hearing confessions, and teaching the faith to newcomers. His least favorite is attending meetings. Father likes to collect ancient coins—Roman, Greek, Judean, Byzantine, etc.—and will gladly talk about them to anyone who feigns interest.
Pastor Emeritus, Father Bill Olnhausen
Born into a mixed Protestant/Catholic family background, Fr. William Olnhausen, married to Khouria Dianna, felt genuinely surprised to be called into the ministry during his college years. While attending a Methodist seminary, he became convinced of a “Western Orthodoxy” in the Anglican Church as a result of influence by C.S. Lewis. He then graduated from General Theological Seminary and attempted to move his Episcopal parish in this direction. Having been exposed to Eastern Orthodoxy in various places, especially Greece, he ultimately decided that Orthodoxy represented the original faith of Christianity. In 1988, he resigned from the Episcopal priesthood and began St. Nicholas Orthodox Church the next year with a group from his former Episcopal church. Twice retired, Fr. Bill is the Pastor Emeritus of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, and he also maintains Fr. Bill’s Orthodox Blog.
A bishop is the overseer of a group of local churches. He is the chief teacher and leader of services in that area.
After receiving a bachelor’s in literature, science, and the arts at the University of Michigan, Bishop Anthony (Michaels) attended St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York, where he earned an MDIV and was a valedictorian of his class. He taught modern philosophy at Gogebic Community College in Ironwood, Michigan, before becoming a pastoral assistant and youth director at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. As youth coordinators at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Akron, Ohio, he and a fellow seminarian gave concerts and retreats as part of the musical group KERYGMA.
He was ordained to the diaconate and the priesthood in 2004 at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in West St. Paul, Minnesota. He served his home parish for seven months before leading the faithful of St. John Chrysostom Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In December 2011, he was consecrated to the sacred episcopacy and assigned as the auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest.
A metropolitan is an archbishop with pastoral and administrative authority over an archdiocese.
Metropolitan Saba was born in Latakiya, Syria in 1959. He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Tishreen, and a bachelor’s degree in theology from the St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology. His Eminence was ordained a priest in 1988 and elevated to the dignity of archimandrite in 1994. He pastored St. Michael the Archangel Church in the Archdiocese of Latakia until 1998. In 1998, Metropolitan Saba was elected and consecrated as an auxiliary bishop to His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV of thrice-blessed memory. In 1999, His Beatitude and the Holy Synod of Antioch elected him as metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Bosra, Hauran and Jabal Al-Arab in Syria. Simultaneously with his pastoral and episcopal duties, from 1995-2006, His Eminence served as instructor of Pastoral Care and Introduction to the Old Testament at the St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology in Balamand. He has authored a number of books in pastoral life and theology and has also translated a number of titles from English to Arabic, including works by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev and Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko. Patriarch John X and the Holy Synod of Antioch elected His Eminence to lead the Archdiocese of North America on February 23, 2023.
Patriarch John X
A patriarch is a bishop who has responsibility for the largest entity in the Orthodox Church, a patriarchate. The patriarch presides over a gathering of bishops called a synod.
Our patriarch received all his early education in Latakiya, Syria, graduating with a degree in civil engineering there. He earned a degree in theology in 1978 from the St. John of Damascus School of Orthodox of Theology at the Balamand University and a doctorate in theology in 1983 from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece.
He was tonsured a monk at the Athonite Monastery of St. Paul on the Holy Mountain, was ordained to the holy diaconate in 1979 and to the holy priesthood in 1983, and in 1981 became a professor of liturgical studies at the St. John of Damascus School of Orthodox Theology at Balamand. There he was the dean from 1988 to 1991 and again from 2001 to 2005. He was elected and consecrated to the sacred episcopacy in 1995 with the title Bishop of al-Hosn. He served as superior of the Monastery of St. George al-Humayrah in Syria, superior of the Our Lady of Balamand Monastery, and spiritual father to the Convent of the Dormition in Blemmana, Syria. In 2008 he was elected as the metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe. In 2012 he was elected to succeed the late Patriarch Ignatius IV.
St. Nicholas of Myra, our patron saint
A patron saint is the one a church is named after. A church has a special relationship with their patron saint, who acts as their heavenly protector and advocate.
Our father among the saints Nicholas was the archbishop of Myra in southern Asia Minor in the fourth century. He is known especially for his care for the poor and his love for children. He is also the basis for the Santa Claus legend and imagery which accompany Christmas celebrations in much of the world.
While widely honored and venerated, not only in the Orthodox Church, but throughout many Christian groups, little is known historically of the life of Nicholas. He was imprisoned during the persecutions against Christianity in the early fourth century and after his release he participated in the Council of Nicea in 325. In addition to being honored as the patron of many countries, notably Greece and Russia, and of cities, he is the patron of many occupational groups, including mariners. St. Nicholas is commemorated by the Church on December 6. He is given the title Wonderworker because he is noted for his many miracles both during his earthly life and after his death, miracles which are still taking place today.