The Falling Asleep in Christ of The Most Rev. Archbishop PETER (L’Huillier)
Very Rev. Joseph Allen
On November 19, 2007, Archbishop PETER (L’Huillier) left this earthly life and The Orthodox Church lost one of her most esteemed “elders.” But this particular “elder” was also a scholar, historian, linguist, professor and bishop. Archbishop PETER was a leader in so many ways, not only to the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) but also for all of the Orthodox jurisdictions in North America. Indeed, his influence and knowledge spread through the entire Orthodox “ecumene.” He was a dear friend to the Antiochian Archdiocese in general, and to Metropolitan PHILIP in particular. This was made clear by the evening eulogy delivered by Metropolitan PHILIP at the OCA Cathedral in New York City during the special Trisagion Prayer. His Eminence enumerated the gifts and charisms of Archbishop PETER and included the multitude of positions that he had held within the institutions of the Church. The Antiochian clergy and students will agree with Metropolitan PHILIP, when they remember the various conversations and symposia at which Archbishop PETER spoke over the years regarding Canon Law and Church History.
His story is both interesting and admirable. In fact, Metropolitan PHILIP called him a “walking encyclopedia” of Orthodoxy, who made valuable contributions in almost any theological discussion. How did his life unfold? How did he become on such “elder” in our midst?
Archbishop PETER completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Paris and the St. Denys Institute in Paris. He received his Licentiate of Theology from the Moscow Theological Academy, and later the historically rare and prestigious Doctorate of Canon Law from the same theological academy in 1985. There have been, in the history of the Moscow Academy, only a few such doctoral degrees in this particular area of Canon Law.
It is not surprising, however, that the Archbishop achieved such a rare degree; he was not only a great historian, but also a linguist, speaking not only in English, but French, German, Russian and Greek. He came into Holy Orthodoxy through his studies of the Greek language and Greek Classics, and applied his excellent education to service in the Church.
Archbishop PETER was the ruling Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York and New Jersey for the The Falling Asleep in Christ of The Most Rev. Archbishop PETER (L’Huillier) The Word 27 Orthodox Church in America (OCA), having previously served as a priest and bishop in France under the Patriarchate of Moscow. He was called from his bishopric of the Diocese of Western Europe to serve the OCA and to teach at St. Vladimir’s Seminary.
While in France he lectured at St. Denys Institute and became a professor at the Catholic University of Paris. Since 1979, after being called to America, he served as professor at St. Vladimir’s Seminary and taught at the Antiochian House of Studies since its inception. He was wellloved by his students, especially the Doctoral students at the Antiochian House of Studies with whom he worked to complete their dissertations.
He became best known for his comprehensive text entitled The Church of the Ancient Councils; the Disciplinary Works of the First Four Ecumenical Councils, and he has written many scholarly articles in Canon Law and Church History such as “Episcopal Celibacy in The Orthodox Tradition,” “Accession to Autocephaly,” “The Reception of Roman Catholics into Orthodoxy”, and “The First Millenium on Marriage and Ordination.”
Since his expertise was recognized by all of the Orthodox hierarchs and theologians, Archbishop PETER was named as Canonical Advisor to the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA).
Although his education and scholarly reputation were well known, still His Eminence remained humble and good-humored. Whenever he spoke at the various convocations of the Antiochian Archdiocese, he laughed easily and felt a brotherhood with us that, we believe, should exist among all of the Orthodox in North America. Archbishop PETER will not soon be forgotten as a major contributor to the advancement of Holy Orthodoxy in the New World. All of the Orthodox have lost a true “friend of the Faith”, but we know that for his works and his life, he has been welcomed into God’s Eternal Kingdom.
May the memory of His Eminence Archbishop PETER be eternal, even as our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ is eternal!
Courtesy of the
January 2008 issue of The Word magazine.