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In Memoriam: His Eminence Metropolitan Constantine (1936–2012), Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
21 May 2012 • Alumnus Memoriam
With deep sorrow, the community of St. Vladimir’s Seminary bids farewell to an illustrious and beloved alumnus, His Eminence Metropolitan Constantine, 76, who was Ruling Hierarch of the Central Eparchy and Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. His Eminence fell asleep in the Lord this morning, May 21, 2012—one day after celebrating the 40th anniversary of his Archpastoral ministry in the Pittsburgh area.
Metropolitan Constantine (baptismal name “Theodore”) was born to the late Stanley and Catherine Sydor Buggan in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1936. From his youth, he was raised in an environment of deep faith and was encouraged by his family and parish priests to pursue a priestly vocation.
In September 1954, he entered St. Andrew’s College in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada, at that time the only Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary in North America. His four years there provided an opportunity to learn from the greatest Ukrainian Orthodox theologian in recent centuries, Metropolitan Ilarion (Ohienko). Completing his studies at St. Andrew’s in 1959 with a Licentiate in Theology, young Theodore entered St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary to further his academic and spiritual formation through the inspiration of its renowned professors, Nicholas Arseniev, Sergius Verhovskoy, and Fr. Alexander Schmemann.
Metropolitan Constantine warmly reminisced about his time as a seminarian at St. Vladimir’s (then located in Manhattan), in a published interview in The SVS Vine, Annual Report FY 2010, saying:
"Back then, we seminarians were divided in a large apartment building, on separate floors—2, 4, and 6; I shared apartment 66, owned by 'Mama Oakie' as we nicknamed her, with 'Tom Hopko' and 'Paul Ziatyk'. We had to cook our own meals. All the seminarians would gather together for chapel, which was a converted apartment on the third floor, and then we’d walk across the street to our classes at Union Theological Seminary. It was surely a very different environment than what the seminarians of today know, but it was a wonderful experience and I have many warm memories."
Returning to Pittsburgh after his studies at St. Vladimir's, he then pursued undergraduate and graduate studies in Philosophy at Duquesne University, completing his doctorate in 1967. On April 23, 1967 he was ordained into the Holy Diaconate by His Eminence, Archbishop Mstyslav (Skrypnyk) in St. Andrew’s Memorial Church in South Bound Brook, New Jersey. Deacon Theodore was ordained to the Holy Priesthood in his home parish of St. Vladimir on the South Side of Pittsburgh on July 23, 1967, by His Beatitude, Metropolitan John (Theodorovich) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. He was assigned to serve as assistant pastor at St. Vladimir Cathedral in Chicago on September 1, 1967. His pastoral assignment was to St. Nicholas Parish in Troy, New York, from 1968–1972. During this time he immersed himself in all aspects of parish life, inspiring his flock with the profound richness of genuine Orthodox theology and liturgics. In addition to his pastoral responsibilities, he served as Spiritual Advisor to the Ukrainian Orthodox League.
Father Theodore was tonsured into the monastic schema on December 18, 1971, being given the name Constantine, and was elevated to the dignity of Archimandrite on December 19. He was consecrated Bishop at the hands of His Beatitude Metropolitan Mstyslav and His Grace Bishop Mark (Hundiak) in St. Vladimir Cathedral in Philadelphia on May 7, 1972 and assigned to the Episcopal See of Chicago, becoming the first hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church since St. Petro Mohyla to be born outside the borders of Ukraine. He was elevated to the rank of Archbishop in 1976. He was elevated to the dignity of Metropolitan on 1992, and upon the repose of His Beatitude Metropolitan Mstyslav on June 11, 1993, he became Prime Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and the Diaspora.
The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, during its meeting on March 12, 1995, under the presidency of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, unanimously accepted His Beatitude Metropolitan Constantine and his fellow Ukrainian Orthodox bishops of the USA and Diaspora under the omophorion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Thereafter the Holy and Sacred Synod proceeded to elect His Beatitude Metropolitan Constantine titular hierarch with the title of Metropolitan of Irinoupolis, to serve the pastoral needs of the Ukrainian Orthodox living in the USA, thus leading the faithful sons and daughter of the Church into the fullness of canonical world Orthodoxy. In July 2000, Metropolitan Constantine was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity from St. Andrew’s College of the University of Manitoba.
Memory Eternal! +
Read an Official Press Release about Metropolitan Constantine of Blessed Memory (1936–2012), from the Consistory Office of Public Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, and look in the future for details about memorial services for His Eminence, here.
Send condolences to the clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, and to Metropolitan Constantine’s family:
Regular Mail: Consistory Administrative Offices • Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA • P. O. Box 495 • South Bound Brook, NJ 08880
Currier Delivery: Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA • 135 Davidson Avenue • Somerset, NJ 08873