On Saturday, November 1, 2008, Archimandrite Jonah (Paffhausen) was consecrated Bishop of Forth Worth and Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of the South, at St. Seraphim Cathedral, Dallas, TX. Consecrating hierarchs included His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas and the South, Locum Tenens of the Metropolitan See; His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania; His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West; and His Grace, Bishop Alejo of Mexico City and the Exarchate of Mexico.
Bishop Jonah’s episcopal election took place on September 4, 2008, at an extraordinary meeting of the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops. Earlier in the summer, his candidacy was endorsed by the Diocese of the South’s Diocesan Council, shortly after Bishop Jonah had participated in the diocese’s annual assembly.
His Grace, Bishop Jonah was born James Paffhausen in 1959 in Chicago, IL, and was baptized into the Episcopal Church. His family later settled in La Jolla, CA, near San Diego. He was received into the Orthodox Church in 1978 at Our Lady of Kazan Moscow Patriarchal Church, San Diego, while a student at the University of California, San Diego. Later, he transferred to UC Santa Cruz, where he was instrumental in establishing an Orthodox Christian Fellowship. After completing studies at UCSC, James attended St. Vladimir’s Seminary, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree in 1985 and a Master of Theology in Dogmatics in 1988.
Later, he spent a year in Russia, where he was introduced to monastic life. While in Russia, he joined Valaam Monastery, having found a spiritual father in the monastery’s Abbot, Archimandrite Pankratiy. It was Archimandrite Pankratiy’s spiritual father, the Elder Kyrill at Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, who blessed James to become a priestmonk. He was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood in 1994 and in 1995 was tonsured to monastic rank at St. Tikhon’s Monastery, South Canaan, PA, having received the name Jonah.
Returning to California, Fr. Jonah served a number of missions and was later given the obedience to establish a monastery under the patronage of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco. The monastery, initially located in Point Reyes Station, CA, recently moved to Manton in Northern California, near Redding. During his time building up the monastic community, Fr. Jonah also worked to establish missions in Merced, Sonora, Chico, Eureka, Redding, Susanville, and other communities in California, as well as in Kona, HI.
This year, Fr. Jonah was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite and given the obedience to leave the monastery and take on the responsibility of Auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese of the South. In addition to his archpastoral duties, Bishop Jonah will also serve as the diocesan chancellor.
“A number of faithful have asked about specific changes in administration that will come about with the advent of Archimandrite Jonah,” Archbishop Dmitri wrote in an Archpastoral Message dated September 5, 2008. “Indeed, as both Auxiliary and Chancellor his duties will be quite varied, his schedule undoubtedly demanding. Archimandrite Jonah will work directly with me in helping to administer the Diocese of the South. He will in turn work closely with the chancery staff, deans, parish priests and faithful to facilitate our missionary efforts in the South.”
May the Lord grant the newly consecrated servant of God, His Grace, the Right Reverend Bishop Jonah of Fort Worth, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of the South, many years of fruitful archpastoral service in His Holy Vineyard, the Orthodox Church in America.