It’s been a big week for Utah’s only Russian Orthodox parish. It dedicated a new church in West Jordan last weekend – and its leader has been honored with a new title as well.
Michael van Opstall was ordained as a Russian Orthodox priest about ten years ago, and since then he’s guided the growing community of believers in Utah. Last weekend, the parish dedicated the new St. George Russian Orthodox Church in West Jordan, made possible by an anonymous donation of a million dollars.
Father Irenei, a monk with the Western American Archdiocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, was part of a delegation that came to Utah for the occasion. He says van Opstall was given a new title by Archbishop Kyrill during the service.
“This is something about which he had not been informed prior to the service," Father Irenei told KUER. "But during the divine liturgy, after the church was consecrated, in the traditional way, the archbishop called him forward and removed the silver cross from his neck that he had worn since he was ordained as a priest and place there instead a gold cross as a sign of this office.”
He will now be known as Archpriest Michael. He continued his service this week, officiating at services in honor of St. George, the church’s patron. In addition to his religious duties, Archpriest Michael continues teaching mathematics at the University of Utah.