I hope my adding this post will not damper people’s interest in Fr. Andrew’s book. I have listened to some of his podcasts and they are good. Nonetheless, it’s time for my regular monthly post . Each monthly post in 2011 has concentrated on Orthodoxy and higher education in America and this one will continue that theme, though not in quite the same way.
In this post, I thought I’d mention the People’s University in Chicago and put out a “call for more information.” I do not know much about this school and therefore would greatly welcome any reader from Chicago (or elsewhere) who has more information on this. What I do know is that it lasted from 1918 until 1920. It was a night school that met in public school classrooms with the twofold purpose of Americanizing Russian immigrants and teaching Russian to Americans for business purposes. Boris Bakhmeteff, the ambassador for the provisional government in Russia, had allocated $10,000 from embassy funds to start this venture. The financial aspects were overseen directly by the Russian consul, Antoine Volkoff. Although this venture did not last I find it quite intriguing. Perhaps others know more about it than the bare-bone basics I’ve been able to find. I should note I haven’t scoured the Bakhmeteff archives as I maybe should, though a quick skim through the contents (as available online) did not jog anything in my mind. Nor have I had a chance to figure out what archives in Chicago might contain information on this enterprise. If someone knows better, please do let me know. This is no do or die matter but I suspect that a fuller history of the Russian People’s University in Chicago could offer a unique view into the world of the Russian emigre community and those who fled turmoil of Russia for the safe haven of America.
Those interested in Russians in Chicago more generally might wish to start here, though one would have to go far beyond this to learn more:
Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on November 28, 1915:
The Holy Orthodox Russo-Greek Catholic Church has established a college for young women at the corner of Pennsylvania and Glenmore avenues, in the East New York section. About nine years ago Archbishop Platon and the priests of the Russo-Greek Church decided in their Convention that it would be advisable to found a college for young women of their own faith. This was thought especially desirable for the reason that many of the daughters of the clergy as well as of the laity could not gain as much attention in the secular institutions of this country in the branches of learning most needful to the Slavic population as in an institution of their own denomination. In time they were to take their places as polished and educated young Slavic-American citizens of the country; and, while devoted to their Church, still equally so to this republic as Americans. They would have to become factors in its life and progress. Russians move slowly but surely. Their Church in this country and in Canada has made very great strides. Their objects have been especially to gather in their own people who, for a time, from necessity, have been left here and there without a shepherd; to so work as to conform rigorously to the established laws of the United States without in any way grasping political power or drawing upon public State funds to help their Church institutions, but depend upon the pockets of their own children, however poor, to share for the common good of all; and, finally, to establish monasteries, nunneries, schools, orphan asylums, seminaries for theological students and colleges for the higher education of their young women.
The first of these latter institutions, the one in East New York, was founded by the Most Rev. Evdokim, the present Archbishop of North America, on the 14th of last September, which date, according to the Russian Julian Calendar, was September 1. The building was formerly the Russian Orphan Asylum, but on that institution having been demoved to the State of Massachusetts, it opened up the way for the far-seeing Archbishop to occupy the premises for the new venture.
Pupils from several States of America and the Balkans are already in attendance. They are a very bright and intelligent set of young women, ranging in age from 16 to 25 years. They are a serious and determined number of students, who realize much the object of their presence in their Church’s college. Indeed, from among their number many will become the wives of future priests of the Orthodox Church, fully equipped, both educationally, socially and religiously, as helpmates to their husbands.
The Russian priesthood is a Class in Society and their wives are expected to be refined and educated to fit into their lives and church interests. Of course, it is voluntary on the part of the Greek Orthodox Catholic clergy to marry or not, but they must marry, if at all, before they enter the priesthood, according to the ancient rule of the General Councils. And if, after marriage, a priest’s wife dies, he cannot remarry. The bishops are always selected from among the unmarried monastic, or “Black Clergy,” as they are called in contradistinction to the “White Clergy,” or secular priests, that is, the married, parochial clergy.
The general supervision of the college is under His Grace, Archbishop Evdokim, who, himself, visits regularly and acts as a professor in one of the branches. Besides the Archbishop there are nine other professors, five of whom are women, viz., Mrs. A.S. Meschersky, Miss Chervobawa, Mrs. Turkevitch and Mrs. Kohanik. The men professors are Very Rev. L. Turkevitch, Dean of St. Nicholas Cathedral; the Rev. Peter Kohanik, secetary of the North American Ecclesiastical Consistory; G. Cherepin and the Rev. Dr. Ingram N.W. Irvine. Mrs. E.A. Krilova is the house superintendent and Mrs. Meschersky is her local assistant.
The college is divided into two departments, namely, the Russian and English. The English department is under the Rev. Dr. Irvine, who, for a time, was a professor in the Russian Orthodox Theological Seminary in Minneapolis, Minn., and has been used as a utility priest in all departments of the Holy Orthodox Greek Catholic Church. In the theological seminary he was the lecturer for six chairs of instruction. He has been used in a versatile way in his Church and has ever been a great favorite with all the young of the different nationalities who are represented in the Russo-Greek and, in fact, the whole Holy Orthodox Church of America.
For some years Dr. Irvine was associated with the late Bishop Raphael of Brooklyn, head of the Syrian-Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of America. The doctor was his theologian and he always consulted him on matters of importance. They were old and fast friends till the bishop’s seemingly untimely death. Dr. Irvine on the death of his personal friend was retransferred to St. Nicholas Russian Cathedral, Manhattan, at the request of the Russian clergy, with whom he is quite a favorite. On the opening of the college in Brooklyn by the present Archbishop he was placed in charge as rector of the English department and the preacher at the chapel as well as associate at the Liturgical Service.
Few men of any nation have had a more varied experience than Dr. Irvine. He is acquainted with many characteristics of the Slovanic, Grecian and Oriental races, which make up the membership of the Holy Eastern or, as it is technically known, the Greek-Orthodox Catholic Church. The doctor is an Irishman by birth, but came to America as a youth, studied in the United States and graduated in the great Episcopal General Theological Seminary, West Twentieth street, New York City. A class of men now fast passing away were his associates. The present Episcopal Bishop Burgess of Long Island and Dr. Irvine were seminary rectors. In fact, Dr. Irvine in his early ministry was rector of St. James Church, Smithtown, Long Island, and through his influence Mrs. Stewart gave the money to build Garden City Cathedral Church.
The Rev. Dr. Irvine’s wife has been in his long ministry his fellow worker and is equally loved with him by all who know her. It is a pathetic sight to see the Syrian children, whose spiritual welfare was looked after for years in Brooklyn by the doctor, gather around him and Mrs. Irvine when they enter the section of Brooklyn or Manhattan where the Syrians reside, and embrace them. It matters not how the little faces look, clean or unclean, they are filled with pleasure.
Into St. Mary’s Russian College he takes the same love for and interest in the young priests who were his students in the West and who are now scattered through the States and Canada, holding his name as a household word. Another institution of learning has been added to Brooklyn’s long list and the Russian Church has selected a Long Island man to head her English department, especially a priest who thoroughly understands American life and the peculiarities of many denominations.
On November 4, 1905, a religious and literary journal entitled The Friend published a letter by St. Alexander Hotovitzky, dean of St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York. Hotovitzky wrote in response to an article in The Friend which claimed, “In this Russian service, of course, no one understood what was said, not even the Russians themselves, as the whole of it was in the ancient ecclesiastical Slavonic tongue. As the Romish Church addresses the Lord in Latin, so do the Greeks use this Slavonic language.” Here is Hotovitzky’s reply:
This is not true.
1. Our ecclesiastical Slavonic tongue is the original of modern Russian, Servian, Slavonian, and of other branches of the Slavic world.
2. Every Russian, even children (of school age) understands well the real text and meaning of all prayers in Slavonic, excluding, perhaps, not many expressions which are lost for living use and are not fitting for ordinary practice.
3. Easy to be understood, this Slavonic language has, besides, immense dignity of words, and is sanctified as proper church language by long ecclesiastical usage.
4. To compare the use of the Latin tongue in the Roman Church and of Slavonic in the Russian is, then, far from consistency and knowledge of true conditions of things, because the chief rule of the Eastern Church (which combines Russia, Greece, Jerusalem, Antiochia, etc.) is to say the divine services in the language of the people for whom the services are intended; in Japan we celebrate and preach in Japanese, in China in Chinese, in Alaska in the native tongue of the Aleutians, and in some churches of America in English, always according to the needs and understanding of the congregation.
5. Russians do not understand Greek, and Greeks do not understand the Russian; so in a Greek church you never hear one word of the Slavonic tongue, and vice versa; yet both are of the same Eastern Catholic confession.
A. Hotovitzky, Dean of the Russian St. Nicholas Cathedral.
New York, Ninth Month 24, 1905.
I’m particularly interested in St. Alexander’s point about the use of English in some American Orthodox parishes. This was 1905; the very next year, Isabel Hapgood published her landmark English translation of the Service Book, facilitating the wider use of English. But Slavonic would remain the dominant language of the Russian Archdiocese for years to come. The 1916 Census of Religious Bodies reports that 166 of the 169 Russian Orthodox congregations in America worshipped exclusively in Slavonic.
In fact, among American Orthodox groups, only St. Raphael’s Syrians (Antiochians) really embraced English in the early years of the 20th century. Although they liturgized exclusively in Arabic in 1906, by 1916, over half of the Syrian parishes had completely switched to English, and numerous others had incorporated English to one degree or another. In fact, in 1916, no more than four of the 25 Syrian congregations continued to worship in Arabic alone. It was a remarkable, dramatic shift that probably had several contributing causes, including the vision of St. Raphael, the influence of Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine, and the translation work of Isabel Hapgood. For more, check out my article from August 21 of last year.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article detailing some of the history of prayers for the US President in American Orthodox churches. After I published it, a reader named Andy Romanofsky sent along this excerpt from Chapter 1 of Archbishop Gregory Afonsky’s A History of the Orthodox Church in America: 1917-1939:
The faithful of the Orthodox Church in America never considered any form of political dependence on Russia. Just as in his own day the Russian Prince Vasili Dmitrievich (XIV century) stopped commemorating the Byzantine emperor in Russian churches on the grounds that, although the Russians received the Church from Byzantium, “they did not receive the emperor and will not have him,” so too Bishop Nicholas Zyorov, in 1896, reported to the Holy Synod that, “the commemoration of the Emperor and the Reigning House during divine services brings forth dismay and apprehension among Orthodox in America of non-Russian background. This practice is also a hindrance to the propagation of Orthodoxy among Russian Uniates who came to America from Austria-Hungary.” In an Ukase dated January 27, 1906, and addressed to Archbishop Tikhon, the Holy Synod confirmed the practice of commemorating the American President by name during divine services.
It’s not clear to me whether the Russian parishes in America actually ceased commemorating the Tsar, or whether they just began commemorating the US President along with the Russian Tsar. Frankly, I’d be very surprised if they simply removed the prayers for the Tsar altogether. They were, after all, still a diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Russian hierarchs were still subjects of the Russian Emperor. If anyone has more details on this, please let me know.
Attend an American Orthodox parish today, of any jurisdiciton, and you’re likely to hear prayers offered for the President of the United States (and, in some parishes, for the other branches of government as well). The first evidence I’ve been able to find of such prayers is from the journal Christian Union, 10/4/1871:
Bishop Johannes, of the Russo-Greek Church on the Pacific coast, has ordered the prayer for the President of the United States, contained in the Liturgy of the Episcopal Church, to be used by the Greek Priests. The Russo-Greek Calendar has also been modified so as to make it conform to that of Western Christendom in several essential important points.
It’s not clear what those calendar changes were, but obviously, the prayers for the President were part of a broader program to make Orthodoxy more American.
Four decades later (and exactly 99 years ago today), a Greek fruit dealer in Boston decided that the local Greek parish (and, apparently, Greek churches throughout the country) should also pray for US leaders. From the Boston Globe (7/14/1911):
That the ritual of the Greek church in this country be changed so that prayers would be for “the President, his family, the governors and their families,” instead of the customary for “King George of Greece and his family,” was the object of a petition filed yesterday in the office of Clerk Darling in the U.S. circuit court.
Constantinos D. Dimary of 46 Curve st, a fruit dealer, prepared the document, writing it on a 20-pound brown paper bag with a pencil. There is considerable legal phraseology in the document, as Dimary studied law in Greece. He feels that the country which has been adopted by his countrymen should get the blessings of his church.
What exactly Mr. Dimary hoped to accomplish by filing a petition in court is beyond me. Did he expect the court to compel Greek churches to pray for the US President? It’s one thing to bring up such a thing to your parish priest (or local bishop, but the Greeks didn’t have one in 1911), but to seek the aid of the courts is a little extreme. I don’t know what became of this petition (although I can guess that it didn’t get very far), and I’m not sure how the Greeks of Boston responded. I know we’ve got quite a few Greek Orthodox readers from the Boston area; can any of you shed more light on this odd incident?
One more note along these lines. In 1920, the Antiochian Metropolitan Germanos Shehadi — leader of the “Antacky” faction of Syrians — published a collection of Orthodox hymns, with music, in English, under the title The Paradise. Among those hymns was one that went like this: “God bless the President of the United States, and its people with peace and prosperity, God keep this peace and prosperity, forevermore, forevermore, forevermore. Amen.” This, it appears, was used in Met Germanos’ parishes during the Divine Liturgy, where once upon a time the Eastern Roman Emperor was commemorated.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
UPDATE (7/14/2010): After I published this article yesterday, Isa Almisry found an example of prayers for the US President in 1870, which is earlier than the Bishop John Mitropolsky example related above. From Isa:
The New York Times records on November 25, 1870, that “servives were conducted by Bishop PAUL, formerly Bishop of Alaska, who is on his way to Russia, to assume his new position as Bishop of Siberia. Rev. Mr. BJERRING also officiated. The litany was said by the Bishop, while prayers for the Emperor and Empress of Russian, and for the President and people of the United States were offered by the pastor.”