Fr. Joseph Fester (another 'very senior OCA priest' with close ties to the Metropolitan) just posted the following to our parish mailing list:
"His Beatitude is going to take a rest but he is not on a Leave of Absence. As we all know, his schedule for the past three years has been heroic but it does take its toll.
So he is going to take the time of the Great Fast to rest, retreat, and regain his strength. He truly appreciates your love, prayers and concern.
Fr. Alexander Garklavs has resigned. His Beatitude is grateful for his service.
Bishop Melchisadek has accepted to be the interim chancellor. Archbishop Nathaniel will assist His Beatitude when necessary while the Metropolitan is retreating."
Unfortunately, Fr. John Fester is considered to be a another "problematic" clergyman in the OCA.
See these comments about Fr. Fester’s role in the Special Investigative Report, issued by the OCA in September 2008, under a special heading entitled “The Inner Circle”:
“11. The “Inner Circle.” Fathers David Brum and Joseph Fester served as confidants to Kondratick. They were regarded by others at the Chancery as part of an “inner circle,” responsible for day-to-day operations at the Chancery. As such, one would expect them to be aware of at least some of Kondratick’s financial dealings. Both denied such knowledge to the SIC.
However, they never questioned Kondratick’s largesse in extending favors (meals, gifts, and travel) believing them to be an expression of an exaggerated generosity. Questionable dealings and misdeeds brought to their attention in interviews were excused as having been “blessed” by one Metropolitan or the other, or because of “the incompetence of Strikis, “or because Wheeler or Kozey had an axe to grind. “
- (SIC Report page 27)