Kondratick “Confidant” Appointed Dean of National Cathedral
Fr. Joseph Fester, the current Chancellor of the Diocese of the South, announced in an email to his Dallas congregation today that Metropolitan Jonah has appointed him as the new Dean of the OCA’s St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, DC. The current Dean, Fr. Constantine White, who has served the Cathedral for 25 years, will be re-assigned to St. Matthew’s parish in Columbia, MD. The change is expected in mid-February, 2011, if not sooner.
Metropolitan Jonah made the announcement, yesterday, in remarks to a surprised Annual Meeting of the DC parish, where +Jonah, as Metropolitan, serves as Rector. The move takes on national significance in that, at that same meeting, +Jonah stated that he would be “...moving the entire OCA administration to Washington DC after next November’s All-American Council.”
Fr. Fester has served as the Chancellor of the Diocese of the South since April 2009, shortly after Metropolitan Jonah became the locum tenens of the Diocese. Before landing in Dallas, Fr. Fester had been the long-time Director of FOS, the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards, the fund-raising arm of the OCA. While heading FOS Fester also served as the Secretary to former Chancellor, Robert Kondratick. Together with the former Secretary to the Metropolitan, Fr. David Brum, Fr. Fester resigned from Syosset in the Spring of 2006, in protest to the dismissal of Kondratick by former Metropolitan Herman.
Fr. Fester’s role in the recent OCA scandals was described by the Special Investigative Report, issued by the OCA in September 2008, under a special heading entitled “The Inner Circle”:
“11. The “Inner Circle.” Fathers David Brum and Joseph Fester served as confidants to Kondratick. They were regarded by others at the Chancery as part of an “inner circle,” responsible for day-to-day operations at the Chancery. As such, one would expect them to be aware of at least some of Kondratick’s financial dealings. Both denied such knowledge to the SIC.
However, they never questioned Kondratick’s largesse in extending favors (meals, gifts, and travel) believing them to be an expression of an exaggerated generosity. Questionable dealings and misdeeds brought to their attention in interviews were excused as having been “blessed” by one Metropolitan or the other, or because of “the incompetence of Strikis, “or because Wheeler or Kozey had an axe to grind. “
- (SIC Report page 27)
As the Diocesan Bishop, Metropolitan Jonah has the “authority” to transfer priests within his diocese - and as he is now entering his third year as the “locum tenens” of the South, it is no problem to transfer priests between Washington and Dallas. But he does not have the authority to transfer the adiminstration of the OCA from its current headquarters by fiat. It has not been announced if the Synod of Bishops approved, or even discussed, such a change (as the Minutes of their most recent meeting have not been published). The Metropolitan Council unanimously voted against such a move for reasons of cost, administrative disruption and lack of facilities - and refused to allocate any funds in the 2011 budget for such a transfer. The refusal appears not to have concerned the Metropolitan, who has steadfastly refused to live, or even visit for any period of time, the OCA headquarters in Syosset. The Metropolitan’s infrequent attendance in Syosset has been the topic of several discussions with the Metropolitan between the Bishops, officers and Metropolitan Council over the past 18 months.
The DC Cathedral parish, itself, has undergone significant changes in the past year, with the arrival of a group of Russian monks and 3 Greek nuns, brought in by the Metropolitan, who have taken over various cathedral-controlled residences. According to some reports, additional monastics - including 4 monks from Valaam monastery, and another nun from Greece - are also on their way to DC. It has been an oft-repeated desire of the Metropolitan to establish a monastery in the greater DC area.
- Mark Stokoe