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The Most Reverend Nathaniel (Popp)
Archbishop of Detroit &
The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America
Consecrated:  15 November 1980
Nameday:  22 April
The Right Reverend Irineu (Duvlea)
Bishop of Dearborn Heights & Auxiliary Bishop
of The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America
Consecrated:  2 November 2002
Nameday:  23 August
The Right Reverend Irineu (Duvlea)
Bishop of Dearborn Heights
& Auxiliary Bishop of The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America

Monastic Community



Celebrated:  40 days after Pascha

Tropar (Tone 4):  O Christ God, You have ascended in Glory, granting joy to Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit.  Through the blessing they were assured that You are the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world!

The Ascension of Jesus Christ is one of the Great Feasts of the Church, which shows the last stage in God's plan for mankind: total union with God upon one's departure from the world.  For forty days after the Resurrection, Jesus continued to preach the Gospel.  According to the account found in the Acts of the Apostles, while gathered near the Mount of Olives on the fortieth day, Jesus told His disciples that they will receive the power of the Holy Spirit and that they will spread His message throughout the world.  Then, those gathered witnessed Christ taken up into the clouds, and two men clothed in white garments appeared saying, "You men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, Who is taken up from you into Heaven, shall also return in the same manner as you have seen Him go into Heaven."  Afterwards, the disciples returned to Jerusalem rejoicing.


Celebrated:  1 October

Tropar (Tone 4):  Today the faithful celebrate the feast with joy illumined by your coming, O Mother of God.  Beholding your pure image we fervently cry to you: "Encompass us beneath the precious veil of your protection; deliver us from every form of evil by entreating Christ, your Son and our God, that He may save our souls."

This feast day celebrates the appearance of the Mother of God at Blachernae (Vlaherna), which was under threat of barbarian invasion, in the tenth century.  Saint Andrew of Constantinople, Saint Epiphanius and others witnessed the Mother of God praying in the church there, where relics of her robe, veil and part of her belt that had been transferred from Palestine in the 5th century had been kept.  She called on Christ to accept the prayers of the people, saying, "O Heavenly King, accept all those who pray to You and call on my name for help.  Do not let them go away from my icon unheard."  After completing her prayer she took her veil and spread it over the people praying in the church, protecting them from enemies both visible and invisible.  After her appearance, the danger was averted and the city was spared from bloodshed and suffering.  For this act and other prayers answered in her name, the Mother of God is celebrated as protectress of churches, monasteries, and faithful Orthodox Christians throughout the world.


The year 1880 is considered to be the beginning of Romanian immigration to North America.  In time, the Romanian communities grew larger and stronger to the extent of establishing parishes and building churches ready to fulfill their spiritual needs.  Thus, the first Romanian Orthodox church, St. Nicholas, was built in 1902 in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  A hieromonk from the Neamţ Monastery was sent by the Metropolitan of Moldova to serve the community there.

In 1904, the Romanians in Cleveland, Ohio, formed the first Romanian Orthodox parish in the United States and built Saint Mary Church, petitioning the Metropolitan of Transylvania to send them a priest.  This began a time of great missionary activity, which led to the establishment of many new parishes.  In 1918 there were 30 Romanian Orthodox parishes in the United States and Canada, and by 1929 there were about 35 churches.  This growing number of parishes needed a uniting organization, an episcopate under the authority and guidance of a bishop.

On 25-28 April 1929, 20 priests and 24 laymen representing 22 parishes met in Detroit during a Church Congress and decided to create the Romanian Orthodox Missionary Episcopate in America.  A working committee was chosen to prepare the By-Laws of the new Episcopate and carry out the decisions of the Congress.  This committee drew up the new By-Laws, which they subsequently sent to the Romanian Patriarchate along with a request for a bishop to be sent from Romania.

Patriarch Miron (Cristea) began working on this request, but it was only in 1935 that it came to fruition.  On July 4, during the Church Congress, Bishop Policarp (Moruşca) was installed as ruling bishop at Saint George Cathedral in Detroit, Michigan, with 1,500 people in attendance.  In the next two days immediately following the installation, the 4th Church Congress was held with 57 delegates from 32 parishes attending.

Bishop Policarp then began to organize the Episcopate.  He established Sunday Schools for children in the Romanian parishes, founded an organization for women, began publishing the annual calendar Solia, which came to play a very important role in the life of the Episcopate.

One of Bishop Policarp’s greatest priorities was the establishment of a monastery for monks.  From as early as the first issue of the 1936 Solia Calendar, in an article entitled We Need a Monastery, Bishop Policarp promoted his project, listing some major goals that such a monastery would fulfill: “A monastery as a place for pilgrimage and mission.  It could include shelters for the poor, elderly and orphans; to serve as a place of recreation for summer religious education programs.  It could accommodate a candle factory for some income.  It will be a pulpit for the Episcopate..., a place where a printing shop and center for publications can be established...”  This wish Bishop Policarp had was so intense and his plan was communicated so strongly to the faithful that the efforts of bringing it to reality were almost simultaneous with his arrival.

However, the times were hostile and Bishop Policarp was removed and kept away from his spiritual flock in America against his will because after the Church Congress of 4 July 1939 at Vatra Românească – known as the “Grey Tower” farm near the town of Jackson, Michigan – he decided to go to Romania to obtain financial support for his missionary goals.  He left without knowing that he will never return alive.

Today, after more than 70 years since the idea was born, with the help of God, a monastery of Romanian Orthodox monks has been established on the North American continent.


The monastic community of the Holy Ascension Monastery is under the jurisdiction of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, under the omofor of His Eminence Nathaniel (Popp), Archbishop of Detroit and the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America.  It was established on 23 February 2001, the date when the Orthodox Church celebrates the Feast of the Saint Polycarp of Smyrna.  This date is significant for the Romanian Episcopate because Saint Polycarp of Smyrna was the patron saint of the first Romanian Orthodox Bishop in North America, Bishop Policarp (Moruşca), who over seventy years ago dreamt of establishing a monastery for monks, although at that time it was not possible.  However, with the blessing of His Eminence Nathaniel, the vision of the late blessed Bishop Policarp became reality on the celebration of his patron saint day when eight monks from the Brancoveanu Monastery at Sâmbăta de Sus, Braşov, Romania, arrived in Detroit.  The monastery established its location at the Saint Andrew Center for Orthodox Christian Studies in Detroit and Very Rev. Archimandrite Irineu (Duvlea), former abbot of the Brancoveanu Monastery, was named abbot, thus fulfilling the dream of our Archpastor Policarp, “to bring the light of the Romanian Orthodox monastic life to North America” in the form of a monastery for monks.

The newly established monastery became a place of spirituality for the Romanian-American Orthodox community, with monks leading a traditional monastic life in modern times, in conformity with the Gospel, just as the ancient hermits of the first centuries of Christianity lived.  This was only accomplished “through the will and mercy of God bestowed upon His Holy Church in North America.”

On 28 June 2002, the Church Congress of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, elected Very Rev. Archimandrite Irineu (Duvlea), abbot of the Holy Ascension Monastery, as Bishop of Dearborn Heights and Auxiliary Bishop of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America.  His Beatitude Herman, Metropolitan Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, together with eight other hierarchs, consecrated him to episcopacy on 1-2 November 2002 at Saint George Cathedral in Southfield, Michigan.  In addition to his hierarchal duties, His Grace Irineu continued to fulfill his responsibilities as the abbot of the Holy Ascension Monastery until July 2003, when he called upon the monastic community to elect a new abbot.

On 8 July 2003, the monastic community elected a new abbot in the person of Very Rev. Archimandrite Dr. Mihail (Filimon), who served the monastic community until January 2008.  During this period, the monastic community enjoyed the financial support of our founder and benefactor Dr. Michael Ronnette of Chicago, Illinois, and the Sorin & Mariana Cismas Family of California, as well as all the faithful who attended the Holy Monastery during this time.  In January 2008, Rev. Hieromonk Dionisie (Rodila) was appointed egumen of the monastery and served in that capacity until August 2011.  In August 2011, His Grace, Bishop Irineu resumed the responsibilities of abbot of the monastery.

With the help of God, with the work of the Holy Spirit and through the perseverance of His Grace Irineu, it was possible to purchase a new property in Clinton, Michigan, which now houses the Holy Ascension Monastery.  This achievement was made possible through the sacrifice and love of the Adrian & Mariana Lupu-Leica Family, our new founders and benefactors.

The monastic community celebrates daily religious services, where faithful of various nationalities find their spiritual peace and joy, approaching with fear of God, with faith and with love to give Him glory for His gifts bestowed upon them and to ask for His mercy.

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