Yonchev, Archbishop , Kyrill 87
His Eminence, Archbishop Kyrill, archbishop of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania and ruling hierarch of the Bulgarian Diocese, of the Orthodox Church in America, fell asleep in the Lord Sunday, June 17, 2007, at Cranberry Place Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Cranberry Township. He was born Ilia Yonchev, Feb. 26, 1920, in the historic city of Panaguriste in Bulgaria, the son of the late Mancho and Anna Yonchev. He graduated in 1940 from St. John of Rila Theological Seminary in Sofia. He was tonsured a monk on Jan. 19, 1941, ordained a deacon on Jan. 20, 1941 and in April of 1943, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood. He graduated from St. Clement of Ochrid School of Theology in 1944 and was appointed an instructor of theology in the seminary in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. In 1944, he was appointed abbot of the Bachkovo Monastery. While abbot of the Bachkovo Monastery, together with other leading civil and religious leaders in Bulgaria, he helped to protect the Jewish population of Bulgaria from extermination at the hands of Nazi occupiers. In 1946, Father Kyrill was sent to Bern, Switzerland, for advanced studies in theology and philosophy. In 1950, following the communist take over of Bulgaria, Father Kyrill emigrated to the United States. A short time later, he was assigned as pastor of St. George Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Toledo, Ohio. On Dec. 6, 1959, he was elevated to the rank of archimandrite and, in 1963, he was named administrator of the Bulgarian Diocese in the United States. A short time later, on Aug. 9, 1964, he was consecrated bishop of Toledo and Toronto and the Bulgarian Diocese, Diocese of the United States of America and Canada. Bishop Kyrill united the Bulgarian Diocese to the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America on Dec. 20, 1976. In October 1977, Bishop Kyrill was appointed locum tenens of the Pittsburgh Archdiocese and, in 1978, he was chosen to head the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, a position he had held for 29 years. In 1992, he was elevated to the rank of archbishop. He was the senior hierarch and a member of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America. He was also a member of the Lessor Synod of Bishops and served on numerous church committees. These included the Canonization Commission, the Theological Board and as a trustee of St. Vladimirs Orthodox Theological Seminary. He was also a member of the executive council of the Christian Associates of Southwestern Pennsylvania. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Stefan. He is survived by his sister, Ophelia Dinkov, and two nephews, Kyrill Yonchev and Michael Dinkov. According to the archdiocesan chancellor, Archpriest Paul Ziatyk, "The priests and faithful of both the Bulgarian Diocese and of the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania have loved and respected him as their spiritual father. He has been a faithful example as an archpastor and true leader, exemplifying the virtues of humility, patience, and long-suffering. He will be greatly missed by his beloved people."He will lie in state at St. George Bulgarian Orthodox Cathedral, 738 Glenwood Road, Rossford, Ohio 43460, with visitation from 2 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, where Pannikhida will be offered at 7 p.m. Wednesday. For more information on the Rossford services, please contact the cathedral at 419-661-5051. He will also lie in state at St. Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral, corner of Red Coach Road and Thompson Run Road, Allison Park, PA 15101, with visitation from 2 p.m. until time of funeral service for a hierarch at 7 p.m. Thursday, followed at 10 a.m. by a divine liturgy. The mercy meal will follow the divine liturgy. Interment will follow thereafter at the cemetery of Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City. For more information on the services in Allison Park, please contact the cathedral at 412-366-4647. All the divine services will be presided over by Metropolitan Herman, primate of the Orthodox Church in America. In lieu of flowers, donations in Archbishop Kyrill's memory may be made to the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, P.O. Box 1769, Cranberry Township, PA 16066-1769 or to Bulgarian Diocese, Orthodox Church in America, 519 Brynhaven Dr., Oregon, OH 43616. May Archbishop Kyrill's memory be eternal!