Archbishop Lazar On The Parish As Family


Khouria Frederica Mathewes-Green has done the most wonderful interview with Archbishop Lazar Puhalo on the role of the parish in family life and how it can actually help to restore the traditional, supportive aspect of the extended family that has been lost in our time.   You can hear so clearly the wisdom and pastoral care that lies underneath Vladyka’s words.

Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, is a retired hierarch  of the Orthodox Church in America and the founder of the All Saints of North America Monastery in Dewdney, British Columbia.  He has had a long career as a prolific writer, theologian and speaker, but not always a quiet life.  Considerable controversy came out of his persistent disputations against the late Fr. Seraphim Rose’s teachings on the aerial toll houses, which he views as almost gnostic.  But that’s a discussion for another day.

Vladyka is a long ago convert to Orthodoxy, and has at various times been part of the  Russian Church Outside of Russia, and the vagante groups of the Milan Synod, the Free Serbian Church and one of the Ukrainian groups, before landing in retirement with the Orthodox Church in America.   Some strongly criticize his jurisdiction hopping, but it’s not my place to judge his pastoral history.  It’s enough for me to know that he is a godly man, he’s been found to be in good standing and accepted into communion with canonical Orthodoxy, and preaches the Gospel with passion and purpose. 

I met Archbishop Puhalo once back in the mid-90’s when he was invited to San Antonio by a member of my parish.  During a gathering at someone’s home I spent a couple of hours eating dinner and listening to him talk about the spiritual life.  He never mentioned toll houses or anything that wasn’t traditionally Orthodox and canonical.  My impression to this day was of someone who was prayerful and kind, and a strong shepherd of Christ.  During that trip he went out to Junction, Texas, about 120 miles west of San Antonio on Interstate 10 to visit the family cemetery.  I believe he’d lived there for some time during his childhood and had family buried there.  I would love to read an autobiography of his life, especially his journey to Orthodoxy.

Enjoy the podcast and please pray for Vladyka Lazar that God grants him many more years in his service!


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7 Responses to “Archbishop Lazar On The Parish As Family”

  1. auocc Says:

    “Vladyka is a long ago convert to Orthodoxy, and has at various times been part of the Russian Church Outside of Russia, and the vagante groups of the Milan Synod, the Free Serbian Church and one of the Ukrainian groups, before landing in retirement with the Orthodox Church in America. Some strongly criticize his jurisdiction hopping, but It’s not my place to judge his pastoral history. It’s enough for me to know that he is a godly man, he’s been found to be in good standing and accepted into communion with canonical Orthodoxy, and preaches the Gospel with passion and purpose.”

    Just a friendly confrontation between two fellow Orthodox I must say: If it’s not “your place to judge his pastoral history” how is it that you can call the Milan Synod “vagante”? The Milan Synod is the only true canonical Church to have survived the Greek Old Calendarist movement of the 1920s. Do you know first hand their history or do you mimic what has been told to you?

    David Simon

  2. tinag46 Says:

    Forgive me brother if I offended you, but I meant vagante in the sense that the Milan Synod is not operating within the recognized structures and canon law of established churches and is outside communion with the broader scope of Orthodoxy. (I believe no one has questioned the Milan Synod claims to apostolic succession and valid sacraments.) I’m not saying it takes SCOBA membership to be legit, but you must admit that the Milan Synod’s position is not generally one of openness to the mainline Orthodox bodies.

    I have no doubt of the sincerity and faith of members of the Milan Synod, and have known some former members whose life within the Synod was a witness to Christ. You’ll excuse me; however, if I decline to get into a protracted exchange with you over something that even our own hierarchs cannot solve. I believe all things are possible through Christ and would gladly welcome the day when you and I could commune together.

  3. auocc Says:

    I honor you avoidance to a “protracted exchange”. I just wanted to make one clarification. You state “the Milan Synod’s position is not generally one of openness to the mainline Orthodox bodies.” On the contrary, it is the Old Calendarist under Metropolitan Cyprian that are “walled-off”. Any Orthodox layman via confession may partake of the Holy Mysteries in our temples. With the permission of our Bishop clergy may concelebrate with New Calendar clergy. Almost all mainline jurisdictions have accepted our former clergy & bishops in their orders (i.e., not re-ordaining them). Excerpt for maintaining our moderate traditionalism and standing against the influences of false Ecumenism and prayer with heterodox & heretics, I don’t know how much more ‘open’ the Milan Synod can be.

    You might find the contributions of ROCOR’s Fr Ambrose & Milan’s Fr Symeon to the following discussion of some interest:

    For any of your reader’s who maybe interested and open I trust Fr Symeon would answer any further questions: “frsymeon (at) kellion (dot) org”

    David Simon

  4. tinag46 Says:

    I have previously read Fr. Ambrose & Fr. Symeon’s Monachos discussions and they were very informative. You might be suprised but I’m pretty much with the Milan Synod on the ecumenism issue. I see no point to the present involvement with the National Council of Churches or the World Council. I don’t mind us collaborating with traditional Christian bodies on pro life or social issues, but to try and reach consensus on theological stuff is pointless unless we are shooting for full communion (and that’s only going to happen on Orthodox terms).

    For Orthodoxy to be divided in times like this will only leave us weaker – there is safety in numbers. I would hope we could overcome the calendar issue and not let it be a stumbling block to formal communion. My hesitancy on Orthodox bodies that have left communion, such as the Milan Synod, is that I feel the resistance to modernism can become a theology of it’s own. The Church has remained united during bigger controversies than the calendar.

    The Peace of our Lord and Savior to you David.

  5. G.S. Says:

    Archbishop Lazar claims he was deposed (he doesn’t use the word defrocked) for leaving ROCOR without a canonical release. In his own words: “I asked Vladika XXXXXXX for a canonical release. He informed me that ROCOR was not in communion with any other Orthodox Churches. The Serbian Patriarchal parishes, he said, were riddled with Free Masonry and they did not recognize the New Gracanica Serbs or the
    South Bound Brook Ukrainians. So I left anyway.”

    His last statement is very telling: “I left anyway.” He definitely charts his own course.

    Although claiming he is a Serb “through and through,” he was born Ron Haler in TX. He says he was adopted at birth by his mother’s third husband, F. Haler, who was 17 at the time. It’s hard to compute how his mother could have been married 3 times before marrying a 17 year-old boy who was not his biological father, but this is what he claims.

    Archbishop Lazar later marries and has a son, Ron Jr. When Ron Jr. loses his mother at the tender age of 6, he leaves him with relatives, changes his name to Lev Puhalo, declares he is a monastic, and moves into a monastery (a one room hut) with another man.

    From there, he becomes a deacon in ROCOR. He disobeys ROCOR with his teachings and later leaves, (he says) because of sexual harassment issues, joining the schismatic Free Serbs without a canonical release. The Free Serbs make him a priest. He leaves the Free Serbs for the Portuguese Milan Synod. The Milan Synod make him a bishop. Against their protests, he migrates to the Kyiv Patriarchate whom he also leaves to transition into the OCA as an Archbishop, presumably to retire, which he hasn’t. – I know him, too. He is not what he appears to be.

  6. tinag46 Says:

    Thank you for the background G.S. I am always bothered by jurisdiction hopping as I think it shows a spiritually immature character or one of unrepentant pride. I also know Archbishop Lazar is controversial and his life story a little vague, but even someone with a questionable past can be used by God for good. I’m thinking of degrees here. As you may know, Texas seems to have its share of religious nuts. The pseudo-Orthodox faction contributed Fr. Benedict Green and the pot-smoking, myrrh-weeping frauds and pedophiles of the Christ of the Hills Monastery. I don’t say Archbishop’s past life is unimportant, but I think that as long as it doesn’t involve fraud, criminal activity or sexual misconduct, his story is between him and his spiritual advisors.

  7. Drago Says:

    Questionable past?
    come on folks……there is no more Jew or Gentile roman or Greek…but all are in Christ….who is my brother?….he who does the will of my Father.
    I know father Lazar from a long time ago. He is a total sweetheart of a person
    and a hard working man. His absolution grace is unrefutably good. I felt forgiven. I like the fact that he disputed “toll houses”…that’s a daffy teaching and without biblical merit. there is the issue of accounting for every word we have uttered, even in passing…..but that hardly constitutes a toll house.
    scripture says we will be changed in the “twinkiling of an eye”….I am thinking that is the transfiguration of the church…..and a twinkiling of an eye hardly justifies enough time for toll houses…..I don’t want to bust Mr’Rose’s chops about the issue, I am sure he is a lovely person. But the church has sufficient teaching leading to salvation, without toll houses…..they are jsut a distractive side issue of theology….distracting from the true work of confession. see?…..a dispute and a dissention, about an issue of no theological significance one way or the other……but it is wrong for this reason…because it is a dispute on an issue noninstrumental to core teachings…just something to cause chaffing and disturb the peace.
    and , frankly, “the price has been paid”, on golgotha….no need for toll roads….

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