SAN FRANCISCO -- Greek Orthodox Church leaders meeting in Istanbul have named Bishop Gerasimos Michaleas, formerly dean of students and assistant to the president of Hellenic College-Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline, as the church's spiritual head in seven Western states.
As the metropolitan of San Francisco, Michaleas will preside over 70 Greek Orthodox parishes with 150,000 members in California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii. He replaces the longtime Greek Orthodox leader, Metropolitan Anthony Gergiannakis, who died on Christmas.
Michaleas, 59, received the most votes among three candidates Tuesday at a meeting of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
At a meeting in New York last week, Michaleas was selected by representatives of the eight US metropolitans and Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America.
''We are thrilled at his appointment," said the Rev. Michael Pappas, pastor of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in San Francisco. ''He is very well-rounded -- a great respecter of history, a good listener, a psychologist by training."
In addition to his duties in Brookline, Michaleas has served since 2002 as chief secretary of the body of US church leaders known as the Holy Eparchial Synod.
Michaleas received his bachelor's degree from Hellenic College and continued his studies at the school of theology there. He was ordained in 1979 and appointed archdeacon to the archbishop of Chicago. In 1990, he became dean of students at Hellenic College. He earned a doctorate in psychology at Boston College in 1993.