His Eminence Metropolitan Nicolae was born in the city of Constanţa on April 15, 1967, to his parents Nicolae and Victoria, both now asleep in the Lord. He attended elementary school in his native city between 1973 and 1981.
He attended the first two years of high school at the Mathematics & Physics High School in Constanţa, after which he transferred to the Meteorology High School in Bucharest, where he obtained his baccalaureate in 1985. After he graduated from high school, he did his mandatory military service in 1985-1986.
Feeling the call toward the priesthood and the monastic vocation growing stronger and stronger, he decided to answer this call and follow this vocation. In 1988 he was admitted to the Andrei Şaguna Orthodox Faculty of Theology in Sibiu, which at that time was the only school to admit high school graduates.
After four successful years he defended his degree in theology with the dissertation, “The Eucharistic Ecclesiology of Metropolitan John Zizioulas.” Starting in May 1993, having successfully passed the doctoral entrance examination, Fr. Nicolae attended doctoral classes until 1994 under the supervision of his adviser, the V. Rev. Fr. Prof. Dr. Ilie Moldovan; during that time, he wrote the following seminar papers:
- The Collective Unconscious in C.G. Jung’s Works, Seen from the Point of View of Orthodox Moral Theology.
- Self-Cognition according to the Ladder of St. John of Sinai.
- The Sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the faithful according to St. Cyril of Alexandria.
Between 1992 and 1994 he taught Religion in Bucharest, where he had moved after high school.
In 1994 he received a scholarship to the Marc Bloch University in Strasbourg, where he attended the Faculty of Catholic Theology and finished a graduate degree in June 1995. Between 1995 and 2001 he attended doctoral classes at the same Faculty where, on November 10, 2001, he defended his Ph.D. dissertation entitled “Matters of Psychology in the Works of Evagrius Ponticus” and obtained the degree of Doctor in Theology.
During his years of study, in order to combine theory and practice, study and priestly ministry, he decided to enter the clergy and was ordained in the spring of 1997 first as a deacon, then as a celibate priest, by His Eminence Metropolitan Serafim of Germany and Central Europe, with whose benediction he then established and served the parish of the Nativity of the Lord in Stuttgart, Germany.
Thus, his missionary activity among Romanians from Stuttgart and its environs combined serving God with serving people. In the same time period, Fr. Nicolae was the representative of the Romanian Orthodox Church in the Dialogue Committee for European Integration of the Conference of European Churches (Brussels). After receiving the prestigious academic title at the end of his graduate studies, Fr. Nicolae returned to Romania where, on December 18, 2001, he took his monastic vows at the Radu Vodă Monastery in Bucharest. From then until he came to America he was patriarchal secretary.
2 His Election, Ordination and Enthronement
The priests and lay delegates of the Special Electoral Congress of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada, convened on March 9, 2002, at the Holy Trinity parish in Troy, Michigan, elected Fr. Nicolae Condrea for the vacant throne of Archbishop.
Thus ended a process which had lasted many years, having begun with the retirement and then the falling asleep of His Eminence Archbishop Victorin. His Eminence Teofan, Metropolitan of Oltenia, and then His Eminence Iosif, of the Romanian Orthodox Metropolis of Western and Southern Europe, had in turn been locum tenens of the Archbishop’s throne.
The Special Electoral Committee proposed two names, the Rev. Protosinghelos Nicolae Condrea, and the Rev. Hieromonk loan Casian Tunaru, to the Eparchial Council assembled in September 2001, and the Council approved the work of the Committee and recommended the convocation of the Special Electoral Congress for the election of the Archbishop. The Congress was led by His Eminence Metropolitan Iosif. After several rounds of voting, the 109 delegates elected Fr. Nicolae Condrea. At its meeting of March 13, 2002, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church unanimously validated the election, and conferred on Fr. Nicolae the rank of Archimandrite.
The ordination and enthronement of the new Archbishop-Elect took place at the 71st Annual Congress of the Archdiocese, hosted by St. John the Baptist parish in Montreal, Canada, July 12 – 14, 2002.
His Beatitude Patriarch Teoctist, accompanied by an important delegation of hierarchs, priests, deacons and media representatives, presided over the ceremonies. Included in the sobor of hierarchs who celebrated the Divine Liturgy and the ordination of the newly elected hierarch were His Eminence Sotirios, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Canada, His Eminence Theodosius, Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), Their Eminences Metropolitans Teofan of Oltenia, Serafim of Germany and Northern and Central Europe, and Iosif of Western and Southern Europe, His Eminence Nathaniel, Archbishop of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America under OCA jurisdiction, His Grace Bishop Nicholas of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Detroit, His Grace Bishop Seraphim of Ottawa (OCA), and His Grace Bishop loan of Covasna and Harghita. In addition to these were the clergy of the Archdiocese, as well as priests and deacons invited from Romania, and representatives of other Orthodox jurisdictions in North America. The presence of His Beatitude Patriarch Teoctist and of the hierarchs, members of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church and of the sister Orthodox Churches, accentuated the importance of this historic event, which marked the beginning of a new page in the history of the Archdiocese.
Archbishop Nicolae has had a rich pastoral-missionary activity on the American continent. This activity includes primarily pastoral visits to parishes to investigate, encourage and organize their missionary and administrative work. Secondly, this missionary activity includes the participation of His Eminence in Pan-Orthodox and Ecumenical meetings. As a member of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, HE Nicolae regularly attends the meetings of the Holy Synod and of the National Church Assembly.
- Elevation to the rank of Metropolitan and Enthronement Ceremony
The 80th Archdiocesan Congress, held July 1-3, 2016 at the Holy Resurrection parish in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada adopted historical decisions for the ecclesiastical organization of the Romanian Orthodox in the Americas, as follows:
- The establishment of the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Canada
- The establishment of the Romanian Orthodox Metropolia of the Americas, composed of two dioceses: The Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of the United States of America, and the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Canada
- Proposal to elevate the Romanian Orthodox Archbishop of the Americas to the dignity of Metropolitan
- Nomination of His Grace Bishop Ioan Casian as Diocesan Bishop of the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Canada
These decisions of the Congress were approved by the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church at its meeting of October 28-29, 2016. The ceremony of elevation to the rank of Metropolitan took place on October 30, 2016 at the Patriarchal Cathedral following the Divine Liturgy and officiated by Patriarch Daniel, in the presence of the members of the Holy Synod of the
Romanian Orthodox Church, and of priests and delegates of various parishes from the U.S. and Canada.
The Enthronement Ceremony took place on April 30, 2017 at Sts. Constantine and Helen Cathedral, Chicago, IL after the Divine Liturgy. The Liturgy was celebrated by His Eminence Metropolitan Nifon of Targoviste, Patriarchal Exarch, along with His Eminence Metropolitan Iosif of Western and Southern Europe, His Eminence Metropolitan Nicolae, His Grace loan Casian, Bishop Elect of Canada, and six other hierarchs from other Orthodox Churches in the Chicago area and beyond: His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas from the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Detroit, His Grace Bishop Longin from the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of New Gracanica and the Midwest, His Eminence Archbishop Peter of the ROCOR Diocese of the Midwest, His Grace Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos from the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, and His Grace Bishop Anthony of Toledo from the Antiochian Archdiocese. His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago was also in attendance. Besides the hierarchs, priests and parish delegates from the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of the United States participated, together with other priests and faithful from the U.S. and Canada.