Bishop Irenei assisted the First Hierarch in the administration of the UK Diocese from 2017-2018, and on 20th September 2018 was appointed Bishop of Richmond and Western Europe, with London as his principal Cathedra.
Bishop Irenei was born in Okinawa, Japan, where he lived the first year of his life before moving to the United States. The majority of his childhood was spent in the USA, with time spent in Germany, France and the UK, and a portion of his schooling taking place in Brussels, Belgium. Baptised as Matthew, he had a love for the Scriptures and the heritage of Christianity from a young age; and as that developed into a keen devotion to the Church Fathers and languages, he took degrees in Classics and Religion, ultimately obtaining his doctorate in the Church Fathers and becoming a Fellow in Theology at Oxford, and later Chair of Theology and Religious Studies at Leeds Trinity University.
Ordained a Deacon on the Feast of the Dormition in 2007, Fr Matthew was tonsured a monastic in the Brotherhood of St Ignatius (ROCOR), the tonsure taking place at St Tikhon’s Orphanage Church in San Francisco (the home of St John the Wonderworker), being given the name of St Irenaeus the Hieromartyr of Lyons — to whose life and works the new Hierodeacon Irenei had dedicated much of his own scholarly work. The following Sunday (the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent, dedicated to St John of the Ladder) he was ordained Hieromonk at the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin. On the Feast of St Tikhon of Zadonsk, 2011, Hieromonk Irenei was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite by decision of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. He was elected Bishop of Sacramento by the Holy Council of Bishops in July of 2016, and consecrated to the Holy Episcopacy on the Feast of the Theotokos, ‘Joy of All Who Sorrow’, at the cathedral of the same name (where St John’s relics lie) in San Francisco, California.
By resolution of the Council of Bishops of the ROCOR at its session in May 2017, Bishop Irenei was appointed to administer the Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland, together with His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, the First Hierarch of the Church Abroad, while at that time continuing to serve as Vicar Bishop of the Western American Diocese. At its meeting on the eve of the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, 7th / 20th September 2018, the Holy Sobor of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia appointed Bishop Irenei as Ruling Bishop of the Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland, as well as the Diocese of Western Europe, with the title Bishop of Richmond and Western Europe. Travelling a great deal in conjunction with his duties, Bishop Irenei has a great love for visiting parishes and especially for working with youth, encouraging them in their love for the Church and the Orthodox Faith.
Bishop Irenei is the Synodal Secretary for Inter-Orthodox Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and in this capacity is a regular permanent member of the Holy Synod. His has also served as the Dean for Monastic Life of the Western American Diocese of the ROCOR (appointed 2012); a member of the Education Department of the Western American Diocese and of the ROCOR (appointed 2014); and of the Synodal Biblical and Theological Commission of the Moscow Patriarchate (appointed 2016). In 2012, the new Sts. Cyril & Athanasius Institute for Orthodox Studies began operation with the blessing of the Holy Synod, with then-Archimandrite Irenei as its director, and which he operated until the time of his episcopal consecration (thereafter handing it over to a permanent administration). Since 2012 he has served on the Secretariat of the Assembly of Bishops of the United States, and worked in close cooperation with hierarchs of the ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate in matters relating to the Episcopal Assemblies and other inter-Orthodox contexts. From 2014, then-Archimandrite Irenei assisted in the founding of the new men’s monastery in Sonora, California, dedicated to the memory of St Silouan of Mt Athos, and at the official foundation of the monastery on the Saint’s feast day in 2015 was appointed its Abbot, which role he retains.