A Tribute to Bishop Basil of Wichita

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Source: Orthodox History

by 

Bishop Basil and Matthew Namee, 1996

Bishop Basil Essey, the longtime Antiochian Bishop of Wichita and Mid-America, is preparing to retire at the end of this year. Many Antiochians learned of this for the first time over the weekend, when the Archdiocese held a virtual convention. Metropolitan Joseph announced Bishop Basil’s retirement in his address to the convention:

In particular, I would like to thank my beloved brother, His Grace Bishop Basil, for his service to this archdiocese over fifty years, as archdiocesan youth director, as a deacon, as a priest, and as a bishop. Some of you may know that, after writing to me, with my reluctant support, Bishop Basil has written to His Beatitude, our Patriarch, requesting retirement from active ministry by the end of this calendar year. His Beatitude has placed the matter on the Holy Synod’s agenda for its meeting this October. We certainly owe much gratitude to Bishop Basil for his ministry over so many years, and we wish him many more healthy years and blessings. Bishop Basil will remain in the Wichita area, and we will continue to benefit from his wisdom and love.

I grew up in Wichita, and I have known Bishop Basil for as long as I can remember, going back to his days as parish priest of St George Church (now Cathedral) in that city. I attended Wichita’s other Antiochian parish, St Mary, but then-Father Basil and my father were old friends, and I still fondly remember his visits to our house during his time as a priest. Under his leadership, the parish of St George built a magnificent new temple, and at its consecration, Metropolitan Philip declared the new church to be a cathedral. Soon after this, Father Basil was elected by the Holy Synod of Antioch to be an auxiliary bishop to Metropolitan Philip, with the title “Bishop of Enfeh.” I remember watching his consecration as an eight-year-old, looking down from the balcony of the cathedral in Wichita. For a brief period of time, Bishop Basil was assigned to the Antiochian chancery in Los Angeles, and it was during this period that he oversaw the reception of a Reformed Episcopal parish in Fairfield, California into Orthodoxy. My future wife was part of this community.

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1 Comment

  1. + Basil should have become Metropolitan after + Philip. He truly embodies the vision of + Hawaweeny of a united Orthodox Church in America serving ALL ethnic Orthodox. The Antiochian Archdiocese would have progressed so much further than where it is today. Instead, the Antiochians have decided to remain stagnant tethered to foreign bishops who keep the Antiochians in their own ethnic chains while syphoning off more & more money. Very, very sad!

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