“The Diocese for Western Europe of that Old Calendarist Greek Orthodox Church which (after receiving a Hierarchy with the aid of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) was united under Archbishops Akakios and Auxentios. This Diocese was granted a Tomos of Autonomy as a Synod for the Western World in 1984 from Archbishop Auxentios in order to pursue missionary work among the non-Orthodox people of the West. The title of the Synod at this time was the Metropolia of Western Europe. After the transference of its first Chief Hierarch, Metropolitan Gabriel of Portugal, to the Autocephalous Church of Poland, Bishop Evloghios of Milan was chosen as second Chief Hierarch. Ten years later, Metropolitan Evloghios remains at the helm of the Holy Synod of Bishops. The Milan Synod uses the Julian calendar exclusively, and firmly resists the heresies of false ecumenism and trans-religious syncretism.” — From the original Milan Synod website

Within the formation of Orthodox parishes in Western Europe and the Americas over the last century, one finds two strains of thought, both of which have a legitimate place in Orthodoxy due to the ecclesial realities of missionary migration and ethnic reawakening to long-lost Christian heritage.   One can find these two roles in the Russian Saint Innocent of Kamchatka and the Aleutian Islands, who wrote the first document, a Christian catechism, in a Native American Language, and Dr. Joseph Overbeck, a former Roman Catholic priest who established the practical ecclesiological basis  for a native Western Orthodoxy to form.  From this history, detached somewhat from the tragedy of the Russian Revolution and the Western experiments of the Antiochian Archdiocese in recent decades, comes forth the story of the Holy Synod of Milan.

The history of the American Archdioceses of the “Milan Synod” predate the creation of a Western European Synod in 1984 by Archbishop Auxentios of Athens, but even this date predates the eventual splintering of the “Florinite”divisions of the True Orthodox Church of Greece.  The two Archdioceses are the Archdioceses of Texas  and of New York and New Jersey (elevated 1997).

Both Archdioceses were closely tied to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, figuring closely into Her recent as well as Her early history.

The election of the Bishop of Texas occurred in 1977 under  Archbishop Joseph (McCormack),  who was a spiritual son of Archbishop Palladius (Rudenko) and was made Bishop ten years earlier.  The formation of the St Hilarion monastery in Austin, TX, predates the election of its Abbot as a Bishop by two years, and has, for the past twenty-seven years, been known as a center for Orthodox Monasticism in Texas.  The Abbey of the Holy Name, the spiritual center of the Archdiocese of New York and New Jersey, has been the continuation of a monastic compound extending back 100 years.  Archbishop John (LoBue) was originally the spiritual son of Metropolitan William Henry Francis (Brothers– reposed 1979), who had been ordained as a Western-rite Bishop at St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral  in 1931, and who had extensive ties to Metropolitan Anastassy of the Russian Church Abroad.  Archbishop John was made abbot of the Monastery in 1973.

The gradual establishment of Traditional Orthodox communities, formed primarily of converts in the West, was a fact not lost on Archbishop Auxentios of Athens (+1994), who first established a West European Diocese  in 1978 with the election of Archimandrite Gabriel to the Episcopate of Lisbon. Six years later, a second Bishop, Tiago of Lisbon was established for Western Europe, as well as a Patriarchal blessing to exist as an autonomous Body on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, 1984.  With this blessing, the Synod of the West grew well beyond its  boundaries in Portugal at a rapid rate, while the Synod in Greece began to fall apart through repeated schisms.   In 1990, the Western Synod elevated Archimandrite Evlogios of Milan to the Episcopate, re-establishing an Orthodox Episcopate in the see of St Ambrose for the first time since the schism of the West.  The new Archbishop of Milan was chosen as Primate of the Synod of the West (hence the popular title “Milan Synod”) and became known for its stance against ecumenism as well as her frequent use of pre-schism Western services, something which was not well-understood within the Old Calendar community.

In 1990, the Western Synod entered into communion with Metropolitan Mystyslav of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Exile, which in 1991 became the Orthodox Patriarchate of Kyiv.  In 1994, Patriarch Volodymyr, a former catacomb clergyman, recognized the autonomy granted by Archbishop Auxentios and confirmed it with his blessing before his death in 1995.

Sadly, however, the situation in Ukraine was to show to be similar to the one in Greece, as the Patriarchate of Kyiv would eventually split into factions.  This factionalization forced the Bishops of the Synod of Milan to separate from the newly-elected Patriarch, former Bishop Filaret (Denisenko, of the Moscow Patriarchate.)  Since then, the Milan Synod has not been in official communion with any particular Patriarchate, but maintains a friendship with all canonical Orthodox Churches.

In 1997, the Archdiocese of Texas established by the Ukrainian Church was received into the Western Synod, making Archbishop Hilarion the senior Bishop for the Americas, and the Archdiocese of New York and New Jersey under Archbishop John became the Diocese for the Eastern part of the United States for the Milan Synod.

In 2011, the Milan Synod elevated the Archdioceses of New York and Texas, along with the British Deanery, to an Autonomous Metropolia for the Americas and Great Britain, with Metropolitan John at its head. The relations between the two sister Synods became strained as the American Metropolia struggled to preserve the Church’s anti-ecumenical and True Orthodox position. However, the change in relation has not in any way changed the new Metropolia’s focus in preaching the Gospel to all nations. Metropolitan John remains one of the only Orthodox Bishops in the world who lives according to the pre-schism, Orthodox Western Rite at the Abbey of the Holy Name.