Fr. Basil Zebrun
In April 1954, a young subdeacon by the name of Dmitri Robert Royster, his beloved sister Dimitra, along with their priest Fr. Elias Rangel, sought a blessing from His Grace, Bishop Bogdan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Constantinople, to establish an English-language Orthodox mission in Dallas – the future St. Seraphim Cathedral. Later that year Subdeacon Dmitri was ordained to the diaconate, then priesthood on November 6, and assigned as rector of St. Seraphim’s.
In 1969 Fr. Dmitri was elected to the episcopate and consecrated on June 22 that same year. He went on to fulfill his responsibilities admirably serving as Bishop of Berkeley, California and Auxiliary to His Eminence, Archbishop John [Shahovskoy] of San Francisco (1969-1970); Bishop of Washington and Auxiliary to His Beatitude, Metropolitan Ireney (1970-1971); Bishop of Hartford and New England, and Locum tenens of the Albanian Diocese of the OCA (1971-1978); and Bishop (later Archbishop) of Dallas and the South (1978 until his retirement in 2009).
His fifty-five year ministry took His Eminence from one end of the continent to the other. Indeed, during his episcopal tenure he was not only responsible for parishes throughout much of the United States, he also served as Exarch of Mexico from 1972 to 2009, and was present at the Canonization of St. Herman of Alaska, offering the main homily during that historic event.
It can be truthfully said that no matter where His Eminence served he was greatly loved and respected by the people. He in turn deeply cared for his flock, providing a dignified example of a father in Christ. At the same time, it can be asserted that regardless of where he found himself, his heart was never far from his beloved Church (later Cathedral) of St. Seraphim of Sarov, as well as people in the South searching for the fullness of the Christian Faith.
That special place in the Archbishop’s heart for Dallas, for the Diocese which he helped to establish, makes this coming weekend quite extraordinary, as the faithful solemnly bring His Eminence home – from Restland Cemetery -- to his final earthly resting place at St. Seraphim Cathedral, Friday, March 4 and Saturday, March 5. Services will coincide with the Saturday for the Commemoration of the Reposed that precedes the Sunday of the Last Judgment.
On Friday afternoon the body of Archbishop Dmitri will be greeted at the Cathedral by clergy and faithful. No fixed time is being given, but we understand that the greeting will take place between 4:30 and 5:30 pm. His Beatitude, Metropolitan TIKHON will preside. According to Archimandrite Gerasim (Eliel) the new coffin in which the Archbishop will be placed will be brought into the Memorial Chapel (adjacent to the Cathedral) above a prepared crypt. He will lie in state (coffin sealed) during Friday Vespers, March 4. Vespers will begin at 6:30 pm. Friday evening both clergy and faithful will have the opportunity to pray in the Memorial Chapel and read the Holy Scriptures. A meal will follow the service.
On Saturday morning, March 5, His Beatitude, Metropolitan TIKHON will preside at the Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral starting at 9:30 am (we suggest that the faithful try to arrive by 8:30 or 8:45 am). Following the Divine Liturgy, a Panikhida will be served, after which the coffin containing the body of Archbishop Dmitri will be lowered into his final earthly resting place. The re-interment will conclude with the placing of prepared marble tiles over the crypt. A Texas BBQ reception will follow the morning services.
This historic event will set a seal upon all the prayers and tears that led up to the Archbishop’s repose in August 2011, and upon everything that has happened since with him in mind. It will provide closure for the many who looked forward to the day when His Eminence would return to his beloved Cathedral. A prominent leader with the Orthodox Church in America, and a friend to His Eminence, was quoted as offering a pious thought, that the Diocese of the South would never have a new bishop until Archbishop Dmitri returns to St. Seraphim’s. With the day of his return approaching we ask for his prayers as the Diocese prepares to turn over a new chapter in its history, looking continually for his guidance. “May Archbishop Dmitri’s memory be eternal! May the Lord God beatify him, give him rest in Abraham’s bosom and number him among the righteous.”