By Adekunle Peters
A Nigerian Orthodox priest, Mark Anthony, has been elected as the 7th Archbishop of North America and Most Honorable Exarch of Africa of the Genuine Orthodox Church of Antioch.
The election was held during the feast of Hieromartyr Pancratius, Bishop of Taorminia in Sicily (1st Century), on Saturday July 22, 2023 (10 July, 7531, on the calendar of the Church), at St Cyprian Monastery, Sharon Pennsylvania, United States of America.
Seven Bishops were physically present at the ceremony, while two joined via video conference and one sent his vote due to distance.
The election was an endorsement of the Reposed Metropolitan Stephen’s nomination of Bishop Mark as the new Archbishop, in a ceremony that has been part of the statutory process for appointing senior bishops in the Church of North America since 1958.
His Beatitude Mark Anthony, who’s civil name is Akinnugba Macfonse Osmond, is the first African to hold this title.
Archbishop Mark’s appointment as Archbishop was completed in the Confirmation of Election ceremony, held on the Seventh Sunday of Saint Matthew 24th, in a Divine Liturgy, the feast of The Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos of Pochaev, Icon of the Mother of God, and was broadcast via video conference.
As required by the 1958 Appointment of Bishops Act, the proclamation was issued by His Eminence, Archbishop Timotheos, as the Vice President of the Holy Synod, and was published at the end of the election ceremony to announce the result.
“In the name of the Holy Synod We, Archbishop Timotheos, being the Hegumen of the Monastery of Saint Cyprian and Vicar General of the Primate and the Vice President of the Holy Synod of the Genuine Orthodox Church of Antioch in America,
“Being required publicly to notify and declare that the See of the Archbishopric of North America having been for some time vacant by the repose of the Most Reverend Stephen Thomas last Archbishop thereof,
“We the said Holy Synod of this Autocephalous Church (in pursuance of and proceeding according to the bull of Ecclesia establishment by His Holiness Ignatius Peter III, Patriarch of Antioch issued on December 29, 1891.) have this day Elected the Most Reverend +Mark Anthony Metropolitan of Harrisburg and the Archbishop of Nigeria to be our Archbishop and Metropolitan Primate in this Autocephalous Archiepiscopal See of North America whom God long preserve.
Read in the Holy Monastery of Saint Cyprian, Sharon, Pennsylvania in the United States of America, the twenty third day of July in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Twenty-three, By us, Hegumen of St Cyprian Monastery and Archbishop of Pennsylvania,” Archbishop Timotheos announced.
His Eminence, Archbishop +Mark, was born into the family of a devout Roman Catholic Parents in Ondo Kingdom, Ondo State Nigeria.
He attended St Paul’s RCM Primary School Ondo from 1981 to 1987, from where he proceeded to the Sacred Heart Minor Seminary, Akure. He completed his Secondary Education at St Joseph College, Ondo, Ondo State in 1993, as part of discerning his vocation.
Between 1993 and 1996, he devouted his life to teaching catechism and evangelism through legionary work at St Patrick Catholic Church, Ondo, St Mathew’s Catholic Church and Saint John Bosco Parish of the Salesians in, Oke Odunwo, Ondo.
He later joined the religious life of the De La Salle Brothers of the Christian Schools in discerning his vocation in 1996 and soon became a religious educator, having taught Catechism and Christian Religion in schools both in Nairobi, Kenya, and in Nigeria.
He later completed his Doctorate Degree in Divinity, from California International University of Theology, Los Angeles. He was entrusted with the mission to establish the Byzantine Catholic Church in Nigeria and coordinate the evangelistic activities across the continent of African and beyond.
His Beatitude Metropolitan Mark +Anthony was consecrated on April 18, 2011, to the Episcopacy of the Byzantine Catholic Church by Archbishop Peter Tang and were Co-consecrated by Archbishop Jean Ndjewel of the Byzantine Catholic Church on Our Holy Father Mark of Trache at the Cathedral of Saint Catherine in Yaounde, Cameroun. In April 2012, he was elevated to the rank of Exarch of Africa by the Holy Synod of the Byzantine Catholic Church.
In 2013, he was received into the Antiochian Orthodox Church through Cheirotesia (the laying on of hands) by Metropolitan Stephen who with Archbishop Timotheos co laid hands and given the mandate to oversee the church in Africa for the Jurisdiction and given the title of Primate Legate to Africa, and Exarch of Africa, subsequently the co-adjuctor of the Metropolitan Primate.