His Grace Bishop Basil (Essey) ’73

Bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America
Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

Bishop Basil was born and raised in Monessen, Pennsylvania. In 1970 he received his B.A. in Psychology from California State University of Pennsylvania in California, Pennsylvania. He received his M.Div. from St. Vladimir’s Seminary in 1973. His work in the fields of pastoral, youth, and liturgical music following his graduation from the Seminary is outstanding.

From 1973 until 1975 Bishop Basil served as pastoral assistant at St. George Church in Detroit, Michigan. From 1975 until 1986 he served as director of the Archdiocese's Department of Youth Affairs, with offices at the main chancery of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (AOCANA) in Englewood, New Jersey. While working in that capacity, he served as assistant pastor at St. Anthony Church in Bergenfield, New Jersey, and as instructor of Contemporary Byzantine Chant at St. Vladimir's from 1980 until 1986. During 1986 and 1987 he resided at the St. John of Damascus Patriarchal Institute of Theology at the Balamand Monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos in the al-Koura region of north Lebanon where he studied, taught, and did research and translations for The Liturgikon: The Book of Divine Services for the Priest and Deacon (Antakya Press 1989).

Bishop Basil was tonsured a reader by the late Metropolitan Antony (Bashir) at St. Michael Church in Monessen in 1964, and was ordained to the subdiaconate and diaconate by Metropolitan Philip (Saliba) at St. Ignatius of Antioch Church at the Antiochian Village in Bolivar, Pennsylvania, in 1979. On January 27, 1980, he was ordained to the priesthood by Metropolitan Philip at St. Anthony Church in Bergenfield, New Jersey, and in 1988, he was elevated to the dignity of archimandrite by Metropolitan Philip at St. George Church in Wichita, Kansas. From 1987 until his consecration to the episcopacy in 1992, he served as priest at St. George Church in Wichita, Kansas. During his pastorate the new church temple was erected, consecrated, and elevated to the status of “Cathedral.” Bishop Basil received monastic tonsure to the Lesser Schema at the Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knight by Maldon, Essex, England, during the night between January 19 and 20, 2003, at the hands of the monastery's abbot, Archimandrite Kyrill.

In 1991, His Grace was nominated to be a bishop (auxiliary to Metropolitan Philip) by the General Assembly of the AOCANA, and subsequently was elected to the episcopacy (with the titular see of Enfeh al-Koura in north Lebanon) by the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of the Great City-of-God Antioch and all the East. He was consecrated to the episcopacy on May 31, 1992, at St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas, by Metropolitan Philip, Metropolitan Elias (Audi) of the Archdiocese of Beirut; Bishop Antoun (Khouri) titular bishop of Seleucia and auxiliary of the Archdiocese of North America; and the late Archbishop Michael (Shaheen) of Toledo, Ohio, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of North America. From 1992 until 1995 he resided at the Los Angeles Chancery, and in September 1995 he took up residence at the Wichita Chancery. By a decision of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate dated October 9, 2003, His Grace became a diocesan bishop and, since his enthronement on December 15, 2004, bears the title of Bishop of Wichita and the Diocese of Mid-America.

Bishop Basil co-chaired the Joint Orthodox Church in America (OCA)– AOCANA Canonization Commission, which led to the glorification of Bishop Raphael (Hawaweeny) of Brooklyn on May 29, 2000. His Grace oversaw the publication of the book containing St. Raphael's Vita, Akolouthia and Akathist (Antakya Press, 2000). His exceptional musical ability was demonstrated when he arranged the hymnography for St. Raphael to Byzantine melodies, and directed the Clergy Brotherhood Choir which recorded an audio CD of the hymns for the feast of St. Raphael (Antakya Press 2001).

Board of Trustees commendation for Honorary Doctorate

Faithful son of God fearing Orthodox Christian parents, reared in the Church and nourished by her manifest blessings, university educated, theologically trained, and spiritually formed in graduate Orthodox seminary practice, steeped with the knowledge of church history, Scripture, and liturgical and pastoral practice, bridger of traditions, rejecter of phyletism, seeker of truth, author and translator of liturgical books and arranger of hymnography celebrating the glory of the Mother of God, avid inspirational leader of youth, teacher of liturgical music and church rite, builder of churches, lover of people, dedicated follower of the monastic rule, commemorator of the saints, archpastor and Christ loving shepherd of flocks, bearer of joy and teacher of sobriety, true friend and loyal advisor, articulate witness and dynamic defender of the faith, visionary leader and clear thinking guide, bearer of truth and defender of right, without guile and humble in spirit, “rightly dividing the word of God’s truth,” it is with great honor that the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, by unanimous decision and by the power vested in them by the Board of Regents of the State of New York, bestow upon His Grace, The Right Reverend BASIL, Bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and of Mid-America of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, the degree Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa.