On November 6, 2019, Bishops, clergy and faithful of various Orthodox jurisdictions gathered in San Francisco, California, to celebrate the Patronal Feast of the Diocesan Cathedral of the Western American Diocese in honor of the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Joy of All Who Sorrow.”
The solemnity of the Feast was especially auspicious as on this day a new auxiliary bishop of Western American Diocese was consecrated – His Grace Bishop James (Corazza) of Sonora.
The “Rite of Episcopal Nomination” took place on the eve of the Feast in the presence of the cathedral’s Icon of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” and the wonderworking, myrrh-streaming “Hawaiian-Iveron” Icon of the Mother of God. Upon and around the Cathedra in the center of the church sat the hierarchs who received the “Nomination Speech” from – still at that time –Archimandrite James Bishop-elect of Sonora. They were His Eminence KYRILL Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America, His Eminence BENJAMIN Archbishop of San Francisco and the West (OCA), His Grace Bishop THEODOSY Bishop of Seattle and His Grace NICHOLAS Bishop of Manhattan. Scores of clergy from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church in America, with a multitude of the faithful from all Orthodox jurisdictions – and including the candidate’s mother and brother with his entire family – heard Bishop James’ Nomination Speech, which left a strong, peaceful, and sobering impression on all present.
On the following day, the Feast of the Icon of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow,” Bishop James recited the “Confession of Faith” and gave an Oath of service to the Holy Church. Shortly thereafter, during the Divine Liturgy he was elevated to the episcopacy, receiving the grace of the Holy Spirit, Who “healeth that which is infirm, and completeth that which is wanting,” and thus he has been consecrated to labor as a successor to the Holy Apostles, as an “overseer” who will provide guidance and salvific instruction to the flock of Christ. Bishop James in turn ordained Therapon Jajeh to the Deaconate. Father Deacon Therapon, a long-time parishioner of the Old Cathedral of the Holy Virgin at which Bishop James serves, will now become the latter’s concelebrant and co-laborer in the vineyard of Christ.
The multitude of people who came to celebrate this joyous day were communed from three chalices. After the cross procession, His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill, in the company of the other participating bishops, exhorted his new brother: “Your Grace, Bishop James! This day, through the laying on of hands, you have received the Grace of the Holy Episcopacy. You have been summoned to the highest office of Holy Mother Church. You are now entrusted with the care to teach, to guide, and to protect spiritually priests, deacons and laity. Be the embodiment of wisdom, of humility, and obedience to Christ; for of that which you have received—this gift, which is a divine Grace of God—you shall be responsible at the Last Judgment Seat of Christ....” And bestowing Bishop James with a pastoral staff, he exclaimed: “Receive the crosier: a symbol of your episcopal authority; and now that you are a prince of Holy Mother Church, take it, go forth and do the Lord’s bidding.”
Bishop James of Sonora, in his former capacity as a hieromonk of 15 years, amidst many of his tireless labors has been a pilgrims’ guide to the holy sites related the life of Holy Hierarch John Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco the Wonderworker. He has received pilgrims from every continent and of a multitude of nations. To them he has preached of the wondrous works of God that are wrought through the intercessions of Saint John. Through these missionary works Bishop James has gathered numerous spiritual children and friends over the years and many of them came to his consecration and were shown generous hospitality at the banquet that was hosted at the Russian Center in San Francisco after the Divine Liturgy. Both at the kissing of the cross at the end of Liturgy and at the banquet that followed, the clergy and people congratulated Bishop James with this prophetic anointing that has been sealed by the laying on of hands in the episcopal consecration. The miraculous myrrh-streaming Hawaiian-Iveron Icon was present at the banquet, where it streamed myrrh abundantly through its case and brocade cover, soaking the liturgical stand upon which it had been placed.
Many Years to His Grace JAMES Bishop of Sonora!
The future Bishop James was born on December 13th, 1958, in Berkeley, California into a family of Catholics and Protestants. He was raised Lutheran. His family relocated to Oregon in 1970, where he attended high school. It was here that he became interested in oration and debate, and that is what brought him to the study of Political Science and the University of California Santa Cruz with the intention of practicing and teaching Law. He discovered the Orthodox Faith during his second year of study. Through the campus’ Orthodox Christian Fellowship he was profoundly affected by the revelation of a Christianity that was dramatically different from Protestantism. This very fellowship shaped several monastics, bishops, priests and spouses of priests. It is well-known that Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) also met with this group. Receiving the revelation of Truth, the future Bishop James decided to discard his pursuit of a career in Law and became an Orthodox Christian in January of 1980.
The nature of monasticism – “All or nothing” – was very appealing to the future Vladyka James, and a desire to become a monastic was born in him immediately. The turning point came when his spiritual father, Archimandrite Anastassy (Newcombe) told him: “You have received much. Be generous with your life.” Seeing in Father Anastassy an example for emulation, he upon conclusion of his studies in 1982, received a blessing from Bishop Basil (Rodzyanko) to enter a monastery of the Diocese of the West (OCA). In 1983, he and the brotherhood to which he belonged, was received into the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia by Archbishop Anthony of Western America and San Francisco. Soon after that, Vladyka James and the other members of the monastic brotherhood were sent to Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville (New York). In the Spring of 1984, he was assigned to the Old Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco, which has been the place where Archbishop Tikhon (Troitsky), Saint John (Maximovich) Protopresbyter Michael Pol’skiy and other luminaries of the Russian Church Abroad had served. From that time, the “Old Cathedral” became his home.
In September of 1986, he was tonsured a rasaphore monk. In 1994, he was ordained a Hierodeacon by Metropolitan Vitaly (Ustinov). In 2004, he was ordained a Hieromonk by Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America. In 2006, he was tonsured to the small schema, and in 2016 elevated to the rank of Abbot.
In the early years of his service at the Old Cathedral, he served as the choir conductor, and was the editor of the Orthodox journal called “Old Cathedral Quarterly Journal,.” Since 2004, has organized pastoral retreats for the clergy of the Western American Diocese and has regularly lectured at various church and academic conferences, youth conferences, summer youth camps and in parishes throughout the Diocese. While serving at the Old Cathedral over the years, he has worked to unite into one flock parishioners of diverse nationalities (Russian, Romanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Serbian, Ethiopian/Eritrean, Spanish and American). He has also focused on working with children, drawing them into active participation in church life.
In 2019, in connection with his assignment as Abbot of Saint Silouan the Athonite Monastery in Sonora, CA, he was elevated to the rank of archimandrite. Bishop James is the Diocesan Treasurer, the Dean of Monastics and the most prominent organizer of pilgrimages to the places in California that are connected with the life and struggles of the Holy Hierarch John (Maximovich).
At the Meeting of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia that took place on June 27, 2019, after performing a poll on the election of Archimandrite James (Corazza), it was resolved to consider the latter chosen as Bishop of Sonora, Second Auxiliary Bishop of the Western American Diocese. This Resolution was accepted by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate. He was consecrated to the Episcopacy on November 6th, 2019.
Your Grace, Bishop James!
This day, through the laying on of hands, you have received the Grace of the Holy Episcopacy. You have been summoned to the highest office of Holy Mother Church.
You are now entrusted with the care to teach, to guide, and to protect spiritually priests, deacons and laity. Be the embodiment of wisdom, of humility, and obedience to Christ; for of that which you have received—this gift, which is a divine Grace of God—you shall be responsible at the Last Judgment Seat of Christ.
As a bishop you are a sower: one who sows seeds that are to fall upon unnurtured soil. The seeds you sow are Christ’s teachings, His words. The earth upon which they fall is the heart of man. As a sower who prepares the earth before he plants, you as a bishop need to prepare the heart of man, in order for it to be rich, and so, when receiving this seed, gain spiritual strength.
Seek no counsel of men. Do not trust in man! When one puts dependency on man, one will fall with man; for the help you receive from men, as the Fathers teach, is even weaker than a cobweb. This is the way of the fallen world in which we live.
Saint John Chrysostom teaches that when we surround ourselves by learned men of wisdom, then eventually, if we keep what they say, we embody them and become like them. Yet still there is something higher. Through prayer, you stand next to the One Who can give you necessary strength, understanding, support—and that is Christ our God.
Envelop yourself in prayer. Stand with God. Remember - “[The Word of] God became man so that man may become God”, St Irenaeus (Against Heresies, Book 5, Preface).
Receive the crosier: a symbol of your episcopal authority; and now that you are a prince of Holy Mother Church, take it, go forth and do the Lord’s bidding.
24 Oct./6 Nov. 2019
Holy Virgin Cathedral