April 29, 1900: Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Lowell, MA split into two factions. Here’s what I wrote about that schism in my paper, “The Myth of Past Unity”:
[O]ne portion of the parish wanted to discharge their priest, Fr. Nathaniel Sideris, and “hire” another. “We have the right to tell a priest that he is no longer needed and to engage another priest,” one parish leader explained. Other parishioners were appalled at such an approach. “Our complaint,” said the leader of the opposition, “is that the people upstairs are conducting the affairs of a Greek church different from anything to which we have been accustomed, and we do not consider it right. The bishop of the Greek church in Athens alone has the power to assign a priest.”
In the paper, I went on to observe that while one group wanted total independence from the hierarchy and the other recognized the authority of the Church of Greece, neither side said a word about Tikhon, the Russian bishop in America. Of course, that’s because the Lowell Greeks didn’t consider themselves to be under Tikhon — a fact that is perhaps unsurprising today, but which, a couple of years ago, contradicted the commonly held belief that all Orthodox in America recognized Russian authority prior to the Bolshevik Revolution.
April 28, 1901: St. Tikhon, the Russian bishop, celebrated the Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Chicago. At least, that’s what some modern sources say; I can’t find any references to the event in the Chicago Tribune, although the newspaper covered a lot of other Orthodox happenings in that era. If anyone has more information, please let me know.
April 27, 1903: St. Alexis Toth, one of the leading priests in the Russian Diocese, was awarded the “Order of St. Vladimir” and received a miter. Toth, of course, had been a Uniate Greek Catholic priest until his conversion to Orthodoxy in 1891. He went on to spearhead the conversion of tens of thousands of former Uniates into the Russian Diocese, until his death in 1909.
April 23, 1917: St. George Syrian Orthodox Church in Worcester, MA became the first official “Antacky” parish, declaring its loyalty to Metropolitan Germanos Shehadi. Informally, the Russy-Antacky schism began immediately after St. Raphael died in 1915, when his priests disagreed on whether to acknowledge the authority of Antioch or Russia. But the Worcester declaration marked the formal beginning of the schism, which divided the Arab Orthodox in America until the mid-1930s.
April 27, 1922: The Holy Synod of Russia named the refugee Metropolitan Platon Rozhdestvensky as the temporary head of the Russian Archdiocese of North America. Soon enough, the Russian Church (under Soviet pressure) changed course and condemned Platon, who led the Russian Archdiocese to declare its independence from Moscow.
April 25, 1926: Archimandrite Mardarije Uskokovic was consecrated in Belgrade to be the first Serbian bishop for America. According to this article, the original plan was for Bishop Nicholai Velimirovich of Ochrid to lead a new Serbian diocese in America, with Archimandrite Mardarije as his administrative assistant. But Bishop Nicholai’s flock in Serbia apparently protested, and Nicholai himself recommended that Mardarije be consecrated in his stead. Thus, in 1923, Mardarije was appointed administrator of the Serbian churches in America, and three years later, he was elevated to the episcopacy.
Bishop Mardarije’s greatest legacy may be his founding of St. Sava Monastery in Libertyville, Illinois. He died in 1935.
April 29, 1933: Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh, of the fringe “American Orthodox Catholic Church,” married a young girl named Mariam Namey (no relation to me) in a civil ceremony in Niagara Falls, NY. This effectively snuffed out any remaining legitimacy Ofiesh had within Orthodoxy.
April 28, 1952: Romanian Bishop Valerian Trifa was consecrated by the Ukrainian Metropolitan John Theodorovich. The trouble was that Theodorovich was a “self-consecrator,” rendering Trifa’s consecration invalid in the eyes of mainstream Orthodoxy. Later, Bishop Valerian was properly consecrated by bishops of the Russian Metropolia.
April 29, 1956: Archbishop Adam Phillipovsky died. He was a colorful character who was, at various times, on seemingly every side of the unending Russian Church disputes of his day.
April 25, 1959: Reginald Wright Kauffman, a noted writer and journalist, died. Kauffman had converted to Orthodoxy four decades earlier in the short-lived convert parish of the Transfiguration in New York. Unlike nearly all of the Transfiguration converts, Kauffman remained Orthodox for the rest of his life.
On Tuesday, Aram Sarkisian told the story of a mystery photo featuring an Orthodox priest, whom he eventually identified as the Syrian/Antiochian Fr. Job Salloom of Washington, DC. In the course of his investigation, Aram noticed that the mystery priest bore a striking resemblance to a priest in an earlier image — a 1915 group photo of clergy surrounding the casket of St. Raphael Hawaweeny. That led Aram and me to start another project: an attempt to identify all the clergy in that St. Raphael photo. That photo appears at the top of this article, and I’ve added numbers to make the identification process easier.
Our idea was to identify as many of these men as possible, and then ask our readers for help. We figure that, by “crowdsourcing” the image, we may be able to get the names of every single one of the clergymen pictured.
One of the first problems we ran into was the fact that the visiting Antiochian Metropolitan Germanos Shehadi is nowhere to be found in the photo, although he played a prominent role in the funeral service. And for that matter, there are only 18 or so priests in the photo (and that includes the Russian Bishop Alexander Nemolovsky), but there were many more at the funeral. According to A. Issa’s St. Vladimir’s Seminary thesis on the life of St. Raphael, 22 Syrian priests, three deacons, two bishops (Germanos and Alexander), and an unspecified number of Russian priests were present.
So what gives? Where are Metropolitan Germanos and all the rest of the Syrian clergy?
The answer is that they aren’t in the photo, because they weren’t in Brooklyn when this photo was taken — because this photo is not from St. Raphael’s funeral. Raphael died on February 27, 1915. The funeral took place on March 7, which allowed enough time for the Syrian clergy to converge on Brooklyn. But the day after Raphael’s death, on Sunday, February 28, Bishop Alexander celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Syrian cathedral. I’m nearly certain that the above photo was taken after this service. Metropolitan Germanos hadn’t even left Montreal for New York yet, and many other Syrian priests were only just making their travel arrangements.
So that’s our first clue: it’s very likely that all of the clergy in this photo lived within an afternoon’s train ride of Brooklyn, because that’s all the time they would have had to get there. Let’s look at each clergyman one by one, and see what we can find here at the outset.
#1: Fr. Job Salloom
It’s fitting that the man who started this whole project, Fr. Job Salloom, is #1 on our list (by virtue of standing at the far left of the photo). Check out Aram’s recent article to learn more about Fr. Job.
#4: Fr. Michael Husson (?)
Fr. Michael Husson was an active priest in America from 1902 to 1937, and most of that time was spent at St. George Church in Worcester, MA. His career encompassed a huge swath of Antiochian history in America, from St. Raphael’s consecration in 1904 through the dueling consecrations of Antony Bashir and Samuel David in 1936. In between, Fr. Michael’s parish was the first to throw its lot in with Metropolitan Germanos Shehadi’s “Antacky” faction. Later, in 1924, Worcester was the site of the consecration of Victor Abo-Assaly, the first primate of the modern Antiochian Archdiocese of North America. The above photo of Fr. Michael was taken in about 1900, so we can assume he looked a little different standing around St. Raphael’s casket in 1915. That said, Aram and I both think that Clergyman #4 looks rather similar to Fr. Michael — enough so that it could be him, 15 years later. If any of our readers has a later photo of Fr. Michael, please let us know. (And for a bit more on Fr. Michael, check out this article I wrote a couple of months ago.)
#5: Fr. Michael Ilyinsky
In 1915, 48-year-old Fr. Michael Ilyinsky was on the staff of St. Platon Russian seminary in Tenafly, NJ. In 1935, after the death of his wife, Fr. Michael was consecrated a bishop, taking the monastic name Makary, and served as the first Dean of St. Vladimir’s Seminary from 1938 to 1944. In 1946, Archbishop Makary left the Metropolia and in 1947 became Exarch (primate) of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Exarchate of North and South America. In 1952, he was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan. The above photograph was taken slightly before his death in 1953.
#6: Fr. George Maloof
Fr. George Maloof was the founding priest of St. George Church in Boston, and he served there from 1900 until his death in 1920. The photo on the right is from the St. George parish website. Fr. George was recently described as “an intensely spiritual man whose only concern was the welfare of his flock.”
#7: Fr. Aftimios Ofiesh
This is an easy one. Fr. Aftimios Ofiesh was one of the leading candidates to replace St. Raphael as Bishop of Brooklyn, and he was consecrated to the post in 1917. But a large portion of the Syrians rejected Aftimos’ authority in favor of Metropolitan Germanos, creating the “Russy-Antacky schism.” Aftimios eventually created his own jurisdiction, the American Orthodox Catholic Church, which drifted to the fringes of mainstream Orthodoxy. In 1933, Aftimios married a young woman, effectively ending his ecclesiastical career.
#8: Archdeacon Emmanuel Abo-Hatab
Another easy one: Archdeacon Emmanuel was St. Raphael’s right-hand man, and he accompanied the great bishop on many of his missionary trips. Adn. Emmanuel was just 25 in 1915 — far below the canonical minimum age for consecration — but he was one of the top candidates to succeed Raphael. In the end, Aftimios Ofiesh was chosen instead, and his former rival Emmanuel became a loyal lieutenant. In 1927, Emmanuel was consecrated a bishop for Aftimios’ American Orthodox Catholic Church, but two years later, Emmanuel bolted to join the Russian Metropolia. Aftimios had fallen out of favor with the Metropolia, and Emmanuel replaced him as bishop for the Syrians. Just a few weeks after Aftimios got married in 1933, Emmanuel died.
#9: Bishop Alexander Nemolovsky
In 1915, Alexander Nemolovsky was the Bishop of Alaska, yet from the departure of Archbishop Platon in mid-1914 until the arrival of Archbishop Evdokim in May 1915, Alexander was also serving as temporary administrator of the entire Russian Archdiocese of North America. Later, after the Bolshevik Revolution and the departure of Abp. Evdokim for the All-Russian Sobor, Alexander again served as temporary administrator, and was elected as diocesan primate at the 2nd All-American Sobor in 1919. The embattled Abp. Alexander served but three years in this post, and departed for Constantinople in 1922. He eventually became the Archbishop of Brussels under the Patriarchate of Constantinople, then the Patriarchate of Moscow, and was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan in 1959. Met. Alexander died in Belgium in 1960.
We don’t know who this man is, but he appears to be either a deacon or a subdeacon.
This priest may be Russian, rather than Syrian.
#12: Fr. Basil Kerbawy
Fr. Basil Kerbawy was dean of St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn (where the casket photo was taken) from 1907 until his death in 1937. He was married and thus ineligible to become a bishop, but Fr. Basil threw his weight behind Archdeacon Emmanuel. He had a sort of love-hate relationship with Aftimios, sometimes serving as an ally, other times as an enemy. Awhile back, I wrote about a rather amusing incident involving Fr. Basil’s beard, some rotten vegetables, and the Mayor of New York. In 1924, he made a pastoral visit to Jamaica, which is where the grainy newspaper photo on the right was taken.
#13: Possibly Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine
Unfortunately, Clergyman #13′s face is obscured, so we can’t tell for sure whether he has Irvine’s distinctive, gigantic mustache — but if you look closely, it looks like he might. From other images, we know that Irvine had a bald head, just like #13. Also, both men appear to have dark eyebrows. We’re almost certain that Irvine was present for the casket photo, given that he was St. Raphael’s English secretary. None of the other priests in the photo look like Irvine, so we’re reasonably confident that we’ve made the right identification.
#18: Fr. Joseph Elia Xanthopoulos
I’ve written quite a bit about the few Greek priests who served in the Russian Mission, but until we started this project, I had never known about Fr. Joseph Elia Xanthopoulos, a half-Lebanese, half-Greek priest who served in the Syrian Mission. At the time of St. Raphael’s death, he was the pastor of St. Mary Church in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Later, he joined the Greek Archdiocese and served at St. George in Springfield, MA for two decades. He’s a fascinating figure who defies our neat little ethnic categories, and I’d love to learn more about him.
So, that’s it: we’ve got a pretty good idea about 10 of the 18 clergy pictured in the casket photo, but we need your help to identify the other eight (and to confirm the identities of the priests we’ve already found). Next week, Aram will be back with a follow-up article, along with more information to help with the identification process. In the meantime, if you’re at an Antiochian parish, see if you can match one of the clergymen in the casket photo to one of your old parish priests. If you have old parish commemorative booklets with photographs, compare them with the unknown faces. If you find any matches, or have pictures that could otherwise help with the identification process, please drop me an email at mfnamee [at] gmail [dot] com. We need your help!
Continuing with the theme from Wednesday…
This photo depicts the burial of Archimandrite Theoclitos Triantafilides, the great priest of Galveston, TX, on October 27, 1916. We actually have several photos of this event — all courtesy of Ss. Constantine and Helen parish — but this one particularly interests me because of the individuals standing on the stairs on the right side of the photo. Look closely, and you’ll see that they are black — possibly Copts or Ethiopians. These Oriental Orthodox Christians were members of Fr. Theoclitos’ flock. In fact, this is the earliest evidence I’ve seen for Copts or Ethiopians attending an Eastern Orthodox parish in America.
In this way, as in so many others, Fr. Theoclitos was decades ahead of his time — today, it’s quite common to meet Copts, Ethiopians, and Eritreans at an Eastern Orthodox church, but that is a relatively recent phenomenon.
Recently, I’ve been working with a group of researchers to document the life of Fr. Theoclitos Triantafilides, the remarkable priest of Galveston, Texas. Fr. Theoclitos was from Greece — his father had fought in the Greek Revolution — and as a young man, Fr. Theoclitos lived on Mount Athos and later studied in Russia. He tutored the children of King George of Greece, and later the children of Tsar Alexander III (including the future Tsar Nicholas II). He was apparently quite close to Nicholas II, and when, in 1895, the Orthodox of Galveston requested a priest, the Tsar sent to them his former tutor. Fr. Theoclitos was already in his mid-60s — quite old for his era — but he served in America for a full two decades before his death in 1916.
The American ministry of Fr. Theoclitos was utterly unique. He was, as I said, an ethnic Greek, but he served under the auspices of the Russian Mission in America. His parish was composed of Greeks, Serbs, Syrians, and even Copts, and today, that parish is a part of the Serbian Church. Fr. Theoclitos was also one of the first Orthodox priests in America (and perhaps the first) to actively proselytize Americans. His parish was truly pan-Orthodox, and he was uniquely capable of ministering to the needs of such a diverse flock.
Until recently, we knew a fair number of facts about Fr. Theoclitos, but nobody, as far as I know, had found any surviving sermons or writings. Just the other day, though, the lead researcher — Mimo Milosevich, from Galveston — discovered the full text of Fr. Theoclitos’ Christmas sermon, given on January 7, 1914 and published in the next day’s issue of the Galveston Daily News.
It’s a short sermon, but it reveals much about the character and vision of the great archimandrite. According to the newspaper, Fr. Theoclitos began by recounting the story of the star, the wise men, their gifts, and King Herod. Then, said the paper, “Father Theoclitos took off his spectacles and used them to gesticulate with, as he preached a fatherly sermon on charity and its relation to happiness.”
My children: Before Jesus came into our world the earth lacked the attributes of sympathetic understanding, which we find necessary to our happiness in this era. The Lord gave us his son, Jesus, to soften us, to give us understanding of human wants, to give us a sense of forgiveness, to teach us that to forgive is our duty, and to teach us charity.
My children, be charitable, open your hearts, for only in charity is there happiness. Make life brighter for your brother and your sister and the candle you light for them will make your light brighter.
God gave us Jesus, and Jesus gave us his all, even his life. We can do no more than emulate him, and in doing that we do all.
Think today of the poor whom he loved, lighten their burdens, even as he did. Open your hearts, oh, my children, even as did Jesus of Bethlehem.
My children, when he came among us he did not ask, “Of what nationality art thou? What is thy belief?” No! He came down among us and was one of us and he ministered to us. Open thy hearts, likewise, my children, and go among the poor and succor them; all the poor, for they are thy brothers and sisters, my children, and they are his people.
My children, many of you are not native to this land and it is well to treasure memories of thine own country, but think that this is a good land, and its people are good to thy people, and you all are his people. Learn to love, be honest, tolerant, forgiving, and charitable.
I pray you Merry Christmas, my children, and many, many years of happiness.
After the sermon, Fr. Theoclitos passed a plate to collect alms for the poor. “The plate was heaped high with bills and coins,” reported the Daily News, “the merry chink-clink-chink of the contributions accenting like tiny cymbals the smooth melody of a beautiful hymn.”
In an article about Fr. Stephen Andreades, the first resident priest in New Orleans, I quoted from Understanding the Greek Orthodox Church, by Demetrios J. Constantelos (published 1982). At the time, I had only a Google Books “snippet view” of the book, but I’ve since acquired a copy through interlibrary loan, and I thought I’d publish the section dealing with the early Orthodox communities in Galveston and New Orleans. From pages 129-30:
The earliest Greek Orthodox church in the United States was established in 1862 in the seaport city of Galveston, Texas, and it was named after Saints Constantine and Helen. Even though the church was founded by Greeks, it served the spiritual needs of other Orthodox Christians, such as Russians, Serbians, and Syrians. It passed into the hands of the Serbians, who split with the Greeks. The Greeks then established their own church several decades later; but knowledge of the early years of the Galveston Greek Orthodox community is very limited. Neither the number of Greek Orthodox parishioners there nor the name of the first priest is known. The first known Greek Orthodox priest of this community was an Athenian named Theokletos Triantafylides, who had received his theological training in the Moscow Ecclesiastical Academy and had taught in Russia before joining the North American Russian Orthodox Mission. Versed in both Greek and Slavonic, he was able to minister successfully to all Orthodox Christians.
Knowledge of the second Greek community in the United States is more extensive. It was organized in 1864 in the port city of New Orleans. Like the Galveston community, the second one was also founded by merchants. For three years (1864-1867) services were held irregularly and in different buildings. Then in 1867 the congregation moved to its own church structure, named after the Holy Trinity. It was erected through the generosity of the philanthropist Marinos [sic -- Nicolas] Benakis, who donated the lot and $500, and of Demetrios N. and John S. Botasis, cotton merchants who together contributed $1,000.
The church was located at 1222 Dorgenois Street and for several years it became the object of generosity not only of Greeks but of Syrians, Russians, and other Slavs. In addition to Greeks, the board of trustees included one Syrian and one Slav. Notwithstanding the predominance of Greeks on the board, the minutes were written in English and for a while it served as a pan-Orthodox Church.
The early Holy Trinity Church was a simple wooden rectangular edifice 60 feet long and 35 feet wide. The major icons of the iconostasis were painted by Constantine Lesbios, who completed his work in February of 1872. The name of the first parish priest is unknown, but it is believed that a certain uncanonical clergyman named Agapios Honcharenko, of the Russian Orthodox mission in America, served the community for three years (1864-1867). In 1867 the congregation moved to its permanent church and appointed its first regular priest, Stephen Andreades, who had been invited from Greece. He had a successful ministry from 1867 to 1875, when Archimandrite Gregory Yiayias arrived to replace him.
The New Orleans congregation also acquired its own parish house; a small library, which included books in Greek, Latin, and Slavonic; and a cemetery.
There’s some good information here, although Constantelos cites no sources, and he gets some important facts wrong. Most crucially, Agapius Honcharenko was in no way connected to the Russian Mission in America, which at the time was limited to Alaska and would later regard Honcharenko as an obnoxious heretic. And Honcharenko did not serve the New Orleans parish from 1864-67 — in fact, he was never the parish priest at all. He visited the community in the spring of 1865, remaining for perhaps two weeks. He did celebrate the first Divine Liturgy in New Orleans, but he was not the first parish priest.
That distinction properly belongs to Fr. Stephen Andreades, but Constantelos gets Andreades’ dates wrong. While he did come to New Orleans in 1867, Andreades was gone by 1872 at the latest; we know this because Fr. Gregory Yayas was the priest by that point.
And before I close, a word about Galveston. First of all, I wouldn’t regard the 1860s Galveston community as a full-fledged “parish.” They had no priest, no known permanent building, and no known affiliation with a bishop. I do believe that a group of Orthodox in Galveston met for prayers under the name “Saints Constantine and Helen.” They may even have been visited by an Orthodox priest traveling aboard a Russian steamer, or something like that. But I regard the pre-Triantafilides Galveston community as a “proto-parish.” In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if New Orleans wasn’t also a “proto-parish” all the way up to 1867. As Constantelos correctly notes, it wasn’t until that year that the community got a priest and a building. Perhaps we should push their founding date up a couple of years, from 1864/5 to 1867?
Anyway, the thing I want to emphasize, because I’ll be coming back to it in other posts in the near future, is that Fr. Theoclitos Triantafilides of Galveston may be The Most Interesting Man in American Orthodox History. Before he came to America, he had lived a full life — as a monk on Mount Athos, as a tutor in the employ of the King of Greece, and later as a tutor to the future Tsar Nicholas II. When he came to the United States, Triantafilides was already in his sixties. When you take into account the changes in life expectancy, that’s equivalent to being in your eighties today. And he lived another two decades, tirelessly serving the Galveston community and beyond, traveling throughout the South in service to the scattered Orthodox people, regardless of nationality. He also appears to be one of the earliest American Orthodox priests to evangelize Protestant Americans (i.e. not only Native Alaskans and Carpatho-Rusyn Uniates).
That’s enough for today, but I assure you that we’ll have more on Triantafilides in the future. In the meantime, be sure to check out Mimo Milosevich’s highly informative website and lecture on the great priest of Galveston.