Archbishop Dmitri: Eternal Memory
Here are three remembrances of Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas, who reposed in the Lord last week. Vladika will be remembered as one of the great evangelists for, and examples of, the Orthodox Faith in this country.
From Texas Baptist to Orthodox Saint? by Terry Mattingly
Death of the Richest Man in Dallas by Rod Dreher
The Chariot of Israel and Its Horseman: The Repose of Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas by Fr Stephen Freeman
Holy hierarchs are few and far between, but wherever and whenever they appear, they prove to be a blessing to the whole Church.
These accounts mention the amazing (to me) story of how the future Archbishop and his sister found their way to a Greek Orthodox church in Texas while in their teens, and both eventually became Orthodox. I can only imagine not only the opposition of the surrounding community, but also the undoubted puzzlement of the Orthodox themselves, so unaccustomed at that time to the idea of converts. I wish I knew more about the Royster parents, who must have been interesting people in their own right: Southern Baptists who let their teenaged children march off to a Greek Orthodox Church in the 1940s, when such a thing would have been almost incomprehensible anywhere in this country, let alone in the Bible Belt.
When we found our way into Holy Orthodoxy 14 years ago, it felt like a lonely decision, but really we had a great deal of support: there were some converts to talk to, there were good books available in English, the services were at least partly in our language. I’m in awe of the real pioneers — Archbishop Dmitri, Fr Seraphim Rose, and Metropolitan Kallistos come to mind right away — who found the Faith when there were hardly any external signposts.
Archbishop Dmitri’s unassuming austerity reminds me of St John Maximovitch, who lived in one room, ate once a day, and continued throughout his life to wear the cassock that had been made for him by orphans in Shanghai. (It was a non-regulation pale blue because it was made out of “peasant cloth,” the cheap fabric widely used in China at the time). I think also of the recently departed Patriarch Pavle and Metropolitan Laurus. This disregard for the perqs of office seems to characterize the hierarchs who are eventually recognized as Saints.