Orthodox Archbishop to Visit Valley this Weekend
[PHARR] This weekend, Archbishop Dmitri (Royster) will be making an archpastoral visit to St. George’s Orthodox Church located in Pharr, one of the over 100 Parishes and institutions found within his vast and quickly growing Diocese of the South. All are invited to attend St. George’s services during this special weekend. Great Vespers will be held on Saturday, January 27th beginning at 6 pm. On Sunday morning, Divine Liturgy will begin at 10 am, with a reception in honor of the Bishop to be held at the church following Church services. St. George’s is located at 704 W. Sam Houston in Pharr, next to the Skinner-Silva Funeral home. For additional information, please contact Fr. Antonio Perdomo, St. George’s pastor, at 956-781-6114 or 781-2388.
Stopping for a strong cup of coffee in a small town Texas café, a local man approached the bearded Archbishop, somewhat conspicuously dressed for the region wearing his long, black, traditional Russian Orthodox style cassock, riasa and klobuk. The man stated, “Bet you’re not from around here” to which Archbishop Dmitri (Royster) replied, “No. Actually, I’m from a few miles down the road, from Teague.” Somewhat surprised at this reply, the man persisted, “Well, I bet you’re not a Baptist,” to which the Archbishop replied with a twinkle in his eye, “No. But I used to be.”
A protestant convert to Orthodox Christianity since 1941, the then Robert Royster first discovered Orthodoxy in Dallas after reading the early history of Christianity. After extensive studies, Royster knew at age 18 he’d found the same living Church formed by Christ and the Apostles at Pentecost. One day, he told his family he’d found his spiritual home. For the past sixty years, he’s stuck with and faithfully lived that firm belief.
The now Archbishop and his younger sister both converted to the Orthodox faith at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Dallas, he then received the name Dmitri. His college studies at North Texas State University were interrupted when he entered the U.S. Army in 1943. After special training at the University of Michigan he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and served as a Japanese language interpreter on the staff of General Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines and Japan.
Following military service he completed his university education and became an instructor of Spanish at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where in 1949 he received a Masters of Arts in Spanish and was made a professor of Spanish Literature. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1954 in the Orthodox Church in America. At that time, he organized St. Seraphim Orthodox Church, the first English-language Orthodox church in Dallas, and served as a pastor there until 1969, when he was elevated to the rank of Bishop. In 1972 he was named ruling Bishop of the Diocese of Hartford and New England and in 1978 he was made the ruling Bishop of the newly-created Diocese of Dallas and the South, which comprised fourteen states in the Southern United States. St. Seraphim’s became the cathedral church for this new diocese, which meant that Bishop Dmitri was once again the head of the church he had founded. In 1993 the title of Archbishop was bestowed on him by the Holy Synod of Bishops.
In addition to his duties as ruling hierarch of the Southern Diocese, Archbishop Dmitri functions as Exarch for the Diocese of Mexico. He is well-known for his missionary efforts among Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, for whom he has translated Orthodox liturgical texts and theological works into Spanish. He has authored several theological books including: The Doctrine of Christ; Orthodox Christian Teaching: An Introduction to the Orthodox Faith; The Kingdom of God: The Sermon on the Mount; The Parables of Christ; and The Miracles of Christ. His most recent book, published, in 2003, is his The Epistle to the Hebrews, A Commentary. At present His Eminence is writing a Commentary on the Gospel According to St. Mark. He has also been the editor of the Diocesan monthly newspaper, The Dawn, throughout its twenty years of existence.
The Orthodox Church in America (OCA) was created as an autocephalous Orthodox jurisdiction in the 1970’s, when given self-headed rule from its spiritual mother, the Russian Orthodox Church. Coming to the Americas through Russian missionaries sent to Alaska in the 1700’s, Orthodox Christianity, soon embraced by many tribes of Native Alaskans, later spread down the west coast to California.
The name “Orthodox” comes from two Greek root words: Ortho means straight, upright, or true. Doxa means glory or worship, as in the word “doxology.” Ancient Orthodox Christian worship, an outgrowth of ancient Jewish temple worship adapted and reshaped by Christians, is practiced in much the same way as it was since the beginning of Christianity. According to both historical documentation and holy traditions of the Church, the very first Christian liturgy was created by St. James, the 1st Bishop of Jerusalem, and is still used to this day in some parts of the world. James, often called the brother of the Lord, was the Joseph’s oldest son, born from Joseph’s first marriage. An older man and widower, Joseph was later betrothed to Mary, the young mother of Jesus. James, called “the righteous” by both Jewish and Christian populations of his day, eventually met a martyr’s death by being thrown off of the Temple at Jerusalem.
Later, the Liturgy of St. James was adapted and shortened by Basil the Great, born in 330 AD in Caesarea in Cappadocia, and a well-respected early scholar and Father of the Church. The Liturgy of St. Basil is still used in Orthodox Churches worldwide on special feastdays and during the Lenten season. However, St. John Chrysostom, bishop of Syria and Constantinople during the 4th and 5th centuries, lightly edited St. Basil’s work. This version of the Liturgy is used in Orthodox churches everywhere during most of the church year. The ancient Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom will be served at St. George’s Orthodox Church this and most Sundays throughout the year. St. George’s Parish welcomes guests and any who would like to learn more about ancient, traditional Christianity. If you need directions or have questions about the Bishop’s visit this weekend, please contact Fr. Antonio Perdomo at 956-781-6114