The First Orthodox Liturgy in Boston

St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, site of the first Orthodox liturgy in Boston

Not too long ago, I wrote about Fr. Christopher Jabara, an Antiochian priest who visited America in 1893-94. Jabara preceded St. Raphael Hawaweeny, but he wasn’t the first Antiochian priest to come to the United States. That title, I believe, belongs to Fr. Constantine Tarazy.

Tarazy was a celibate priest (possibly an archimandrite) from Damascus, and he arrived in America in 1892. He doesn’t appear to have been sent by the Patriarchate of Antioch, or anything — he seems to have come on his own initiative. In June of 1893, he celebrated what appears to be the first Orthodox liturgy in Boston. From the Boston Globe (6/27/1893):

Rev. Constantin Terzis of Damascus, a priest of the Greek Orthodox Church, celebrated mass in the parish rooms connected with St. Paul’s Episcopal church, Tremont st., Sunday morning. This is perhaps the first time such an event has been witnessed in Boston. The ritual is like that of the “high church” Episcopal service. Dr. Terzis is an Arabian, and has been a professor in theology at Athens, Greece. He is quite an elderly man and unmarried.

Tarazy tried to start a church in New York, but the Syrian community was too small to support it. He eventually returned to Syria, where he later became a bishop.

Fr. Christopher Jabara paid a visit to Boston in 1894, but he was speaking with Unitarians about his strange religious ideas, not ministering to the local Orthodox population. I’m not sure when the next Orthodox liturgy in Boston took place, but I suspect it was celebrated by a visiting Greek priest in 1895 or so.