Bishop Ilia was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan in 1937, the son of Albanian immigrants who migrated to the United States in 1920. In his youth he attended St. George Greek Orthodox Church whose priest was a primary influence for young Ilia to become a priest. He mastered both the Greek and Albanian languages while still in high school. He chose to serve the Albanian Church. On the advice of his father, he trained to serve both Albanian and Greek Churches.
Bishop Ilia graduated from Hellenic College and Seminary at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Theological School in Brookline, Massachusetts, with a Bachelor in Theology Degree in 1961. He was ordained to the priesthood in Boston in 1962 where he served at Holy Trinity Albanian Orthodox Church until August 31, 1983. He pursued advanced degrees including a Masters of Divinity before being assigned as Dean of Student Affairs at Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology. He remained there until 1988. He also held the position as Vicar General of the Albanian Orthodox Church of American until May 2002.
Bishop Ilia served as the priest of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Las Vegas, Nevada from 1988 to 2002. The Parish benefited from his strong leadership and dedication to the Orthodox Faith and a magnificent new church, community center and administration building were built under his guidance.
In 1992, Bishop Ilia was sent twice on a mission to Albania by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to help rebuild the Albanian Orthodox Church after years of subjugation by communist rule.
In 2004, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew sent Bishop Ilia to serve the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania. His Beatitude Anastasios Archbishop of Tirana, Durres and All Albania assigned Bishop Ilia as the Dean of the “Resurrection of Christ” Theological Academy at St. Vlash Monastery near the city of Durres where he served for three years.
Bishop Ilia and his beloved wife, Helen, were married for 39 years before her death in 2001. They became the parents of two children, Sotir Mark and Eugenia, and have three grandchildren.
In the Boston Area tenure:
Spiritual Advisor to the student body at Northeastern University.
Assistant Director of the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Press.
Hosted Albanian speaking radio program.
Contributor to the Drite E. Vertet newspaper, an Albanian publication.
Interfaith Council of the National Council for Community and Justice.
Clark County Ministerial Association.
Member of Board of Trustees, Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute, Berkeley.
Holy Cross Alumni Association
Orthodox Theological Society of America.
Orthodox Christian Association in Medicine, Psychology and Religion.
Member of Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas.
Bishop Ilia was a representative of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania at the Orthodox-Roman Catholic Dialogue, July 2000, and at the Orthodox-Anglican Dialogue, June 2005.