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Orthodox Eparchy of Mukachevo-Uzhhorod

Orthodox Eparchy of Mukachevo-Uzhhorod — eparchy created for the eastern regions of Czechoslovakia during the revival of Orthodoxy among Carpatho-Rusyns after World War I. The first attempt at an organizational structure came in 1921 with the establishment of the Carpatho-Russian Eastern Orthodox Church/Karpato-russkaia vostochnaia pravoslavnaia tserkov under the jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate of Belgrade in Yugoslavia. The Serbian church sent bishops (Dositei Vasic in 1921 and Irenei Ciric in 1926) to *Subcarpathian Rus’, but neither was allowed to remain long. This was because the Orthodox communities of Czechoslovakia were divided between supporters of the Serbian jurisdiction and supporters of Bishop Savatii Vrabets, consecrated in 1923 by the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople. As a result, the government was reluctant to recognize either orientation and for most of the 1920s the Orthodox in Subcarpathian Rus’ were administered by a Temporary Spiritual Consistory headed by Archimandrite Aleksei *Kabaliuk.

Finally, in June 1929, the Czechoslovak government recognized the Serbian jurisdiction within which was included the Orthodox Eparchy of Mukachevo-Presov headed by Bishop Serafim (Ivanovic, r. 1927-1930) with its seat in Mukachevo. The eparchy flourished under the leadership of a new bishop from Serbia, Damaskin (Grdanicki, r. 1931-1938). By the mid-1930s there were an estimated 180,000 Orthodox faithful in Subcarpathian Rus’ (115 parishes) and 9,000 in the *Presov Region (18 parishes). The eparchy had as well ten male monasteries and two female convents (the one at Lipcha with nearly 100 nuns). After the political crisis in Czechoslovakia in 1938-1939 and throughout World War II, the eparchy was headed by another Serb, Bishop Vladimir (Rajic, r. 1938-1945), but was divided between Subcarpathian Rus’, which was annexed to Hungary, and the Presov Region within the Slovak state.

Following the arrival of Soviet troops in Subcarpathia (December 1944) a delegation headed by the eparchial administrator, hegumen Feofan Sabov, and archimandrite Aleksei Kabaliuk went to Moscow to request that the Eparchy of Mukachevo-Presov be placed under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church—Moscow Patriarchate. The request was accepted. The renamed Orthodox Eparchy of Mukachevo-Uzhhorod had jurisdiction only over Subcarpathian Rus’/Soviet Transcarpathia. By the early 1990s the eparchy administered 178 parishes from its seat in Mukachevo. In 1994 a separate Eparchy of Khust-Vynohradovo was established for parishes in the eastern part of Subcarpathian Rus’. The Mukachevo-Uzhhorod Orthodox Eparchy has traditionally been a stronghold of the *Russophile national orientation among Rusyns, although in the post-Communist era of the 1990s several of its priests (in particular Dymytrii *Sydor) are among the leading activists supporting the view that Rusyns form a distinct nationality.

Those Orthodox parishes from the Eparchy of Mukachevo-Presov that remained within the boundaries of post-1945 Czechoslovakia were constituted into the Orthodox Eparchy of Presov. Initially that eparchy was also under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Moscow Patriarchate but in 1951 it became part of the Czechoslovak Autocephalous Orthodox Church. The previous year a new eparchy was created with its seat in Michalovce. Although most of their parishes are in Rusyn villages in the Presov Region, the Orthodox eparchies of Presov and Michalovce—other than maintaining the Church Slavonic liturgy—remain distanced from the recent Rusyn national revival in post-Communist Slovakia and issue most of their church publications in the Slovak language.

Bibliography: Osyp Danko, “Uhors’ka polityka vidnosno Pravoslavnoi tserkvy na Zakarpatti v 1939-1944 rr.,” in Kul’tura ukrains’kykh Karpat: tradytsii i suchasnist’ (Uzhhorod, 1994), pp. 349-364; Stefan Horkaj and Stefan Pruzinsky, Pravoslavna cirkev na Slovensku v 19. A 20. storoci (Presov, 1998); Igumen Gavriil Krizina, Pravoslavnaia tserkov v Zakarpat’e—vek XX (Kiev, 1999).

Paul Robert Magocsi

Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.
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