Exarchate of Mexico elevated to full diocesan status

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO [OCA Communications] — On Sunday, January 18, 2009, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, together with hierarchs from the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, clergy, monastics, and a multitude of faithful from throughout Mexico, the US, and Canada gathered at La Catedral de la Asención de Nuestro Señor in Mexico City to celebrate the enthronement of His Grace, Bishop Alejo [Pacheco-Vera] of Mexico City, as ruling bishop of the Exarchate of Mexico.

With its own ruling hierarch, the Exarchate of Mexico now has full diocesan status in the Orthodox Church in America.

Among those present for the historic occasion were His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas and the South, who for many years served as exarch of Mexico, and several founding clergy Mexican Church, including Priest Ramon Merlos and Priest José Raul Valencia.

Speaking in Spanish, Metropolitan Jonah shared his joy in announcing that the exarchate was being elevated to the status of a diocese, thereby fully equipping the Church in Mexico to accomplish the task Christ has set before it. At the end of the Rite of Installation, each bishop congratulated Bishop Alejo.

At present, the Exarchate of Mexico is made up of nine churches and missions, including Mexico City‘s cathedral, which minister to several thousand faithful.

“It is good to experience, participate in, and help build the Orthodox Church in Mexico as it now enters into this new chapter of its story,” said Subdeacon Abraham Labrada, a Mexican seminarian studying at St. Tikhon’s Seminary, South Canaan, PA. The seminary’s mission choir sang the responses at Saturday evening Vespers and joined the cathedral choir in singing the Sunday Divine Liturgy.

“It was a wonderful and awe-inspiring weekend, and we were very blessed to be here,” said guest choir director, Analucia Perdomo, of St. George Church, Pharr, TX. “Through our many visits over the past several years, we’ve been blessed to see the Mexican Exarchate grow, become a diocese, and now come into its own. It is great to, in some small way, have been part of it all.”

In addition to Metropolitan Jonah and Archbishop Dmitri, other members of the OCA Holy Synod who participated in weekend celebration included His Eminence, Archbishop Nathanial of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate; His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada; His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania; and His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West. Other clergy in attendance included Archpriests Ernesto Rios and Ramon Merlos; Archpriest Dennis Pihach, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Canada; Igumen Nazario Ipac-Uribe; and Priests José Raul Valencia-Salinas, Jorge Barrera-Zermeno, Antonio Perdomo, and José Luis Serna-Estrada; and Priestmonks Victorin Torres-Martinez and Serafin Mendoza Segundo. A number of deacons, sub-deacons and monastics were also present for the weekend.