His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon formally welcomed Archpriest Alexander Rentel as the new Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America at the conclusion of a Service of Thanksgiving for the new year, celebrated at the Chancery’s Saint Sergius of Radonezh Chapel on Tuesday, January 2, 2019.
As reported earlier, the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops confirmed Father Alexander during their Fall Session in October 2018. He succeeds Archpriest John Jillions, now Rector of Holy Ghost Church, Bridgeport, CT, who had served as Chancellor since 2011.
“In this new year, we are joined in our work by a new Chancellor, Archpriest Alexander Rentel,” Metropolitan Tikhon said in his remarks at the conclusion of the service. “It is with joy that we welcome you, Father Alexander, and we look forward to your leadership both here at the Chancery and in the Orthodox Church in America. I am grateful that you have chosen to accept this position of service, and I look forward to working with you as we seek to expand the mission of Christ and His Church here in North America. May God bless you, your wife Nancy and your children.
“In formally welcoming you to the Chancery, and in following tradition, it is my honor to bestow upon you the Chancellor’s Cross,” Metropolitan Tikhon continued. “This cross has been worn by every Chancellor since the time of the late Protopresbyter Joseph Pishtey, who served as Chancellor in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I ask you to wear it with the dignity befitting the office of the Chancellor, and as a reminder of the sacred task that has now been placed upon your shoulders, with the assurance that our Lord will strengthen you for this ministry.”
Father Alexander, who began his duties the same day, responded with words of thanks while offering broad insights into his new ministry as Chancellor. [His remarks appear in their entirety below.]
A faithful priest of the Orthodox Church in America for 17 years, Father Alexander brings a wealth of experience to his new position as a well-known professor, liturgist, pastor and confessor. His pastoral ministry has been offered within the context of Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Yonkers, NY, where he has taught for over 16 years. As the seminary’s Ecclesiarch for 10 years, he has overseen the life of the school’s Three Hierarchs Chapel, the liturgical training of seminarians, and the ordination process. The latter ministry is a key component of the Chancellor’s responsibilities, in addition to assisting the Metropolitan in the areas of theological training and parish assignments.
While his duties as Chancellor are full time, Father Alexander will continue to serve as Assistant Professor of Canon Law at Saint Vladimir’s, where he, his wife Nancy and their three children will continue to reside until their anticipated relocation to Long Island in June 2019.
Father Alexander is no stranger to the overall work of the OCA Chancery. He has been a member of the Holy Synod of Bishop’s Commission on Canons and Statues. His experience with the Statute Revision Commission has given him an extraordinary familiarity with the current—and past—Statutes. In his many years as a seminary professor, he has taught a wide variety of subjects, including liturgical theology, Church history, and Biblical Greek.
Father Alexander’s knowledge and experience of canon law are not only academic, but practical. On many occasions, he has provided canonical guidance and opinions to the Holy Synod on a variety of subjects, and he has been called upon to consult in this area by Orthodox Churches around the world. Having worked closely with all of the bishops of the Holy Synod, collectively and individually, he is intimately familiar with the general functioning of the Holy Synod. He is widely known and respected by the many seminarians who have studied under him.
Remarks of Archpriest Alexander Rentel,
Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America
Saint Sergius Chapel
Tuesday, January 2, 2019
Gratitude. At the outset of my work as Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, I want to begin by expressing thanks to His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops, and the members of the Metropolitan Council for appointing me to a position in the Church that allows me to serve Christ in this particular way. I am honored that you, Your Beatitude, and the members of the Holy Synod have seen fit to call me to this ministry, this service. May God complete in me all that I lack, but which is nevertheless required of me, to fulfill this work, this task, this labor in a manner that is well pleasing to him.
Thanks. I would also like to take this moment and express my gratitude to my immediate predecessor, Archpriest John Jillions, for his years of faithful service to the Church. In my new role, he has already proven to be a good guide as I navigate the complexities of being the chancellor. Further, I want to thank Archpriest Eric Tosi, my friend and former classmate, for his years of service to the Church. To them, I would add my deep appreciation to Melanie Ringa, faithful steward of the sacred gifts offered to the Church. To these three, who labored and continue to labor in a very particular part of the vineyard of the Lord, both I and all the members of the Church owe our gratitude. And in addition to them, I would also add those members of the God’s holy Church working, laboring, and serving here at the OCA Chancery. This work is not easy, no doubt, but it is sacred and holy, because it is work done for the Church. So, to everyone already working here at the Chancery, I say thank you, and I exhort you all, as I assume this position, to renew your efforts for the upbuilding and maintenance of the Orthodox Church in America. I believe fully, unequivocally, and without reservation that we can only accomplish this work if our faith in God is strong, if our love for one another is assured (and labored for), and if we see ourselves above all as servants, as stewards in the household of God, his Holy Church. I come in your midst as one more servant, as someone not unknown to you, to exhort you, to cajole you, and to remind you of our sacred and shared purpose for being here, right here in this building, right now: to serve God and his holy Church.
Concretely. Over the next couple of days – I ask your patience as I learn the rhythms of work here – I want to meet with each of you one-on-one. I want to find out about your job, your life, what you are working on, and what are your expectations of me as Chancellor. I will contact each of you in due course as my schedule, my routine, my rhythms become clear. Over the course of the winter and spring, there will be more transitions. I hope and plan to be as clear and transparent about the processes of each as I am able. I ask your patience too, because I will continue to live and commute from Saint Vladimir’s Seminary. In general I will be there on Wednesdays to teach my classes. Nevertheless, I have my cellphone and there is texting and email – many ways to contact me. Above all, however, please come and see me in my office, stop me in the hall, because, even in this digital age, I prize human contact.
Finally. Finally, Your Beatitude, dear brothers and sisters, let us take this moment as we (re-)commit ourselves to our sacred and shared ministry of service, to pray that God will grant us a spirit of wisdom, a spirit of understanding, and a spirit of discernment so that we can come to know His will. With this knowledge, may He also give us the necessary strength so that we can accomplish all that He has set before us.