For the last few weeks, there were dreams of death. As shared with Presbytera, there was no escape from these dreams. The last time there was such a dream, a friend had passed away. A restless night, and upon waking at 4 a.m., within a few hours, the phone rang, and immediately, before answering, the realization that he had departed this life.
Metropolitan Ilia, by his person, revealed what many other bishops are not. He was a man of exceptional intelligence who was poor and humble. When hyenas within the Church colluded with the SEC (as part of a corrupt and religiously bigoted persecution of one of his priests) to cast dispersions, lie, and commit federal process crimes, Bishop Ilia stood up, writing directly to the court—putting his name and reputation on the line (καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν - John 1:5). No other bishop would have had the courage to do the same.
He was a part of the lives of countless families, and one in particular for about twenty years, like a father. Blessing a holy union and baptized the fruit of the marriage. Later, praying at an ordination, for which, as was so often the case, he was pushed back, though he was greater than those who pushed him back. You only need to meet someone like Metropolitan Ilia once to know what a bishop is and is meant to be. He was "above reproach... sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, and able to teach." (1 Tim 3:2).
Bishop Ilia blessing a union (July 4, 2004)