I had the privilege of knowing Metropolitan Orestes (Chornock) of thrice blessed memory. In person he was 'larger than life' to a boy growing up in the 1950's in Pennsylvania. With an ever-present fine cigar and a kindly smile, his baritone voice bore witness to the strength of the Carpatho-Rusyn prostopenije (plain chant) and simple peasant faith of his flock, which he loved and served for over sixty-five years. He imparted that love and steadfastness in the seminarians who learned under his tutelage.
I doubt that the Latinization of the Roebling, NJ Byzantine Rite parish was a consequence of Bishop Orestes' pastorate. While he was pastor of St. John's Greek Catholic Church in Bridgeport, CT, the parish had a magnificent iconostasis that was only removed after the Byzantine Catholics (through the Roman Bishop of Hartford) won final control of the property in court. The St. John's Orthodox Church that he helped found on Mill Hill Avenue in Bridgeport during the 1940's is a magnificent design that is truly Orthodox. (http://stjohnsonthehill.com/
) Likewise, the Christ the Saviour Cathedral that he later built in Johnstown, PA is Orthodox in conception and design.(http://www.acrod.org/organizations/cathedral/live
) I would note that both churches do incorporate stylistic elements unique to the Carpatho-Rusyns (and the pre-Nikonian practices that they preserved) with a fair amount of inspiration from the original 19th century Christ the Saviour Cathedral that Stalin destroyed in Moscow.
Yes, there were Latinizations present in his Church when Father Orestes was consecrated as a Bishop in Constantinople in the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George. Those influences have gradually disappeared over the years. One has to recognize that many of the Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants understood the Church in terms that were of the heart - not the head, and they regarded the Church as 'Our Church' (Nase cerkov). For many of them, the first return to Orthodoxy under St. Alexis was marred by the rejection of legitimacy of any customs or practices that differentiated Rusyns from Russians. Likewise, the Rusyns remembered bitterly the failed episcopacy of Bishop Adam and his treatment following the first world war.
Most noteworthy,however, was the rejection of prostopenije (plain chant singing) as a Latinization by the Russian hierarchy. That was an absurd charge that has since been disproved. Indeed there are many similarities between prostopenije and early Kievian chants, including the old believer melodies.http://www.acrod.org/ministries/music/plainchant
Given that history, during the celibacy and property battles with the Eastern (Greek) Catholic hierarchy, the slogan of the people was to be, "Neither to Moscow nor to Rome." The Ecumenical throne was ably represented in America at that time by a wise Archbishop, later Ecumenical Patriarch Athenogoras, of thrice-blessed memory, who recognized that the immediate repudiation of Latinization would result in further alienation and schism among the faithful. Hence, a gradual return to Orthodox norms was the prescribed course rather than a radical one. That caused many in the greater Orthodox world to look down upon Bishop Orestes and his flock during the period of transition.
The unflagging support of the Ecumenical Throne and its exarchs in America, most notably Archbishop Iakovos of thrice blessed memory and Archbishop Dimitrios has been a great source of strength and comfort for our faithful, our Bishops and our clergy. ACROD, under the spiritual guidance of Metropolitan Orestes and his able successors, now Metropolitan Nicholas of Amissos, has survived and the Church has prospered spiritually and materially. (http://www.beta.acrod.org/organizations/cyrilmethodioschurch
My grandparents and parents were part of Father Chornock's movement to leave Eastern Catholicism and find a spiritual harbor in Orthodoxy. They were betrayed by the imperialism and colonialistic attitude of the Roman hierarchy in America and possessed a fear, brought over from the Old World. of the Russian bear and the unyielding attitude of some Russian hierarchs of that era. The Ecumenical Patriarchate provided the refuge and support that they needed to start anew.
To leave the beautiful temples that they built in the first decades of this century in cities across the Northeast and Midwest of the United States, to struggle to start anew and build again during the financial depths of the Great Depression, to see their families rendered asunder by the forces that they could little contain or fully understand took great courage and a deep abiding faith and love of the Church,the Saints, the Theotokos and Protectress and, most importantly,our Lord and Saviour.
To the memories of Metropolitan Orestes, his successors, his clergy and his people who have since departed this earthly existence, I can only stand in humble awe and repeat the ancient prayer of the faithful heard at ordination - Axios! Axios! Axios! Eternal be their Memories! Vicnaja Jim Pamjat!