Posts tagged Greek
September 11, 1893: The World’s Parliament of Religions opened in Chicago. I’ve written quite a bit about the Parliament in past articles, and you can read all of them by clicking here. The super-short version: In conjunction with the Chicago World’s Fair, representatives from every major world religion convened in Chicago for the mother of all ecumenical gatherings.
Among the most impressive figures at the event was a Greek Orthodox archbishop, Dionysius Latas of Zante, one of the best known hierarchs in the Church of Greece. Archbishop Dionysius attracted a lot of press, but the most interesting Orthodox figure at the Parliament was Fr. Christopher Jabara, an Antiochian archimandrite who rejected the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and wanted to create a single world religion. To read more about Jabara, click here.
September 10, 1900: Nicholas Bjerring died in New York. Bjerring had converted from Roman Catholicism to Orthodoxy in 1870. He was immediately ordained a priest in Russia and sent back to America to establish the first Orthodox chapel in New York City. Bjerring’s chapel was one of only three Orthodox houses of worship in the contiguous United States (the others being in San Francisco and New Orleans). And while there was a Russian bishop living in California, Bjerring and his chapel were directly under the Metropolitan of St. Petersburg.
Things didn’t work out all that well. After sputtering along for 13 years, the chapel was closed by the Russian government, and a disenchanted Bjerring converted to Presbyterianism. A few years before he died, Bjerring re-converted to Roman Catholicism, as a layman.
September 12, 1912: Fr. Demetrios Petrides arrived in Atlanta to become the priest of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. Petrides had been in Philadelphia, where he clashed with a rich Greek tobacco magnate. It’s a crazy story — the millionaire layman wanted Petrides to bow to him and follow his every order, and Petrides flatly refused. The rich guy got Petrides fired from the parish (that was how things worked back then), and Petrides moved to Atlanta. One newspaper dubbed him the “stormy petrel of the cloth,” and he continued his distinguished career until his untimely death from diabetes in 1917.
Another interesting aspect of Petrides’ career is that he was the priest who recommended that the Ecumenical Patriarchate ordain Fr. Raphael Morgan, who became the first black Orthodox priest in America. For a time, Morgan — who had a troubled marriage that ended in divorce — actually lived in Petrides’ house.
September 13, 1921: Two big events on this day: the birth of Fr. Alexander Schmemann, and the opening of the first Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Archdiocese.
The Clergy-Laity Congress accomplished the legal incorporation of the Archdiocese, and many date the beginning of the GOA to this date. It’s sort of arbitrary, though — you could pick any number of dates between 1918 and 1922. I think the Congress itself, rather than the act of legal incorporation, is ultimately more historically significant.
As for Fr. Alexander Schmemann, he was one of the most famous and important figures in late 20th century American Orthodoxy. What did he do? What didn’t he do? He’s probably best known for his writings — seminal works like For the Life of the World, The Eucharist, Great Lent, and many, many more. Or maybe he’s best known as a professor and longtime dean of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, where he educated hundreds of future church leaders. Or perhaps it’s his role as a churchman: he played a key role in the establishment of the OCA, and the founding of SCOBA. He attended Vatican II as an observer, and he advised the Evangelical Orthodox Church on its path to conversion to Orthodoxy. After the death of Metropolitan Leonty in 1965, the Metropolia/OCA lacked a dominant hierarchical presence. Schmemann, a married priest, filled that role, and was for the OCA what Archbishop Iakovos was to the Greek Archdiocese, and Metropolitan Philip Saliba was for the Antiochians.
September 11, 1927: Fr. Emmanual Abo-Hatab, former archdeacon to St. Raphael Hawaweeny, was consecrated a bishop for the newly established American Orthodox Catholic Church. The AOCC was led by Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh, and it was fringe from the beginning. Bishop Emmanuel eventually split from Aftimios and went to the Russian Metropolia, where he succeeded Aftimos as leader of the “Russy” (pro-Russian) faction of the Arab Orthodox in America.
September 14, 1931: Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of New York Governor Franklin Roosevelt, attended the cornerstone-laying ceremony at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in New York. The ceremony was performed by Archbishop Athenagoras, the new head of the Greek Archdiocese. From the following day’s New York Times:
Mrs. Roosevelt said that the members of the Greek congregations had expressed their worship of God by means of beautiful edifices erected in this city. She added the hope that their fine spirit would be carried on by the new members of these congregations.
Members of the Holy Trinity congregation, whose church was destroyed by fire several years ago, and those of the congregation of the Church Evangelismos [Annunciation] will be amalgamated into one congregation in the new edifice which is expected to be completed in April at a cost of $600,000.
$600 grand in 1931 is equivalent to roughly $8.5 million today — a decent chunk of change in any era, but particularly during the Great Depression.
September 10, 1933: Fr. Benjamin Basalyga was consecrated a bishop in Pittsburgh, for the Russian Metropolia. The 46-year-old bishop was born in a Pennsylvania coal town, and as a child, he was one of the first students at the Russian missionary school in Minneapolis and then at the Minneapolis seminary. Later, he became a hieromonk and served in parishes all over America and Canada, without spending much time in any particular community. For a while in the 1920s, he was the personal secretary to Metropolitan Platon, head of the Russian Metropolia.
After being consecrated, Benjamin served as Bishop of Pittsburgh for about a dozen years, after which he led the Orthodox Church of Japan from 1946 to 1953. He then returned to his see in Pittsburgh for another decade before his death in 1963.
September 11, 1948: Bishop Alexis Panteleyev (or Panteleev), the Russian Metropolia’s Bishop of Alaska, died. I know next to nothing about Bishop Alexis, but I can tell you that he was originally consecrated Bishop of San Francisco in 1927, and served in that post until 1931. In 1934, he became the Bishop of Alaska. Then, in 1945, he was sent by the Metropolia to attend the enthronement of Alexei I, the newly elected Patriarch of Moscow. In this period, there was some hope that Moscow and the Metropolia could reestablish communion. As it turned out, the Metropolia couldn’t accept Moscow’s terms, and reunion didn’t happen.
The next year, though, Bishop Alexis decided to join Moscow himself. He explained his reasoning in this way: “In order to be in unity with the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is necessary for the Russian Orthodox clergy to be under the Patriarch of Moscow.” (New York Times, 4/20/1946) Bishop Alexis died two years later, in 1948.
September 16, 1949: St. John Maximovitch, then the ROCOR Bishop of Shanghai, spoke before the United States Congress. This article is getting a bit long, and St. John’s visit to Congress is really interesting, so I think I’ll save this one for another day.
September 14, 1951: Fr. Demetrios Makris was consecrated a bishop for the Greek Archdiocese, with the title “Bishop of Olympus” (yes, that Olympus). This was back when the GOA had a single Archdiocese composed of a series of “Archdiocesan Districts,” each overseen by a titular bishop but ultimately answerable to the Greek Archbishop. Later, those Districts became Dioceses (and their leaders diocesan bishops), and today they’re Metropolises with Metropolitans. Anyway, Bishop Demetrios was initially assigned to the massive First Archdiocesan District, which included New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, and more. Later, he headed up the Districts based in San Francisco and then Boston.
To be honest, I know even less about Bishop Demetrios than I do about Bishop Alexis Panteleyev (above). I’m not even sure when he died, though I’d guess it was in the 1970s (his tenure in Boston ended in 1973). If anyone out there can fill us in, please do.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading, and for your patience during this period of irregular output here at SOCHA.
Editor’s note: Today, July 13, marks the 54th anniversary of Archbishop Michael Konstantinides, primate of the Greek Archdiocese. Archbishop Michael has been largely (and unfairly) forgotten, for a simple reason: his eight-year tenure was sandwiched in between the larger-than-life Archbishops Athenagoras and Iakovos. But Archbishop Michael was a genuinely outstanding hierarch, and he’s worthy of our attention.
The following biography of Archbishop Michael was written by Presbytera Nikki Stephanopoulos and originally appeared on the GOA website. It is reprinted with permission from the Greek Archdiocese of America.
His Eminence Archbishop Michael served as spiritual leader of Greek Orthodox Christians in the Western Hemisphere from 1949 until his untimely death in 1958. A noted scholar, theologian, pastor, ecumenist, author and administrator, he is most remembered as a man of deep spirituality with a devotion to his sacred mission of promulgating the Faith in the United States. A man loved and respected for his exemplary life and for having personalized the motto of his beloved Greek Orthodox Youth of America (GOYA). “Live Your Orthodox Faith”, his nine years as Archbishop in the Americas were a bridge between Archbishop Athenagoras and Archbishop Iakovos.
Born Thucydides Constantinides on May 27, 1892, in Maronia, Western Thrace, he was admitted to the Halki Theological School in 1907. He was ordained to the Diaconate in 1914 and assumed the ecclesiastical name of Michael. He taught at Halki for one year and did his post-graduate work at the historic seminaries of Kiev and St. Petersburg, where he was an eye-witness of the Bolshevik Revolution. In 1919 he was ordained priest in Constantinople and appointed pastor of St. Stephen Church. In 1923 he was appointed Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Athens and All Greece and from 1927 to 1939 he served as Dean of the Cathedral of Saint Sophia in London. During his priestly tenure he represented the Patriarchate at the Assembly of Faith and Government at Lausanne of 1927, and as representative of the Church of Greece at the Conference of Anglicans and Orthodox in London in 1930.
In 1939 he was elected by the Holy Synod of Greece as Metropolitan of the ancient historic Apostolic Diocese of Corinth. As Metropolitan of Corinth, with his own money he established a small general hospital and organized soup kitchens for the poor, and a library to educate faithful. He established an Ecclesiastical School, Philoptochos Society and afternoon and Sunday schools. He established the St. Paul Association, held spiritual gatherings and Sunday Bible study. Metropolitan Michael could not imagine a parish without a preacher, Sunday school or philoptochos society.
ARCHBISHOP OF NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA
On October 11, 1949, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elected him Archbishop North and South America and he was enthroned December 18, 1949 during a four-hour service attended by 2,000 at Holy Trinity Cathedral. In his comments Archbishop Michael thanked President Harry Truman and the American people for recent moral and material aid to Greece and declared his mission would be to build upon native traditions in making 1,000,000 Greeks better American citizens. He emphasized the place religion had taken in Greek life particularly as a fortifying element against totalitarianism.
Archbishop Michael was internationally known as an outstanding theologian, writer and administrator who wrote many theological treatises in Greek and English. He was also a linguist and was fluent in Greek, English, French, Russian and Turkish. Highly regarded in religious, education and government circles, he received honorary degrees from Yale University, St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary and General Theological Seminary. In 1954 Archbishop Michael represented the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Evanston, IL and in recognition of his many services to the Church and other Christian groups was elected as one of the six presidents of the WCC.
A dynamic hierarch, his pastoral virtues excelled. In 1950, he officiated and gave sermons in 107 parishes and traveled 46,952 miles by airplane, train and car. He also was the first Greek Orthodox Archbishop to travel to South America and had extensive discussions with Juan and Eva Peron in Argentina. In a report to Patriarch Athenagoras On July 21, 1951, His Eminence said:
I was successful in persuading President Peron to permit the immigration of 50,000 Greeks to Argentina for a span over five years and having clothing (produced by Greek women in Buenos Aires factories) sent to Greece, without any hindrance, for the orphan victims of the rebellion, as well as financial assistance from the Greeks to friends and relatives in Greece, wounded by the despicable plague of communism. Mrs. Peron recalled the prayers offered by Your All Holiness on the occasion of Mr. Peron’s illness and asked me to convey to Your All Holiness her fervent gratitude and thanks The President himself said that he will be at my disposal for any matter that relates to our Greek brethren in Argentina.
Another significant contribution of Archbishop Michael was to continue the efforts of Archbishop Athenagoras to obtain recognition of Orthodoxy as a major Faith in the United States. He succeeded in having this resolution passed in twenty-six states. The recognition led the Congress to adopt a bill that recognized Eastern Orthodox in the Armed Forces as separate from Catholics and Protestants. Because of this, Orthodox Christians included the initials E.O. for Eastern Orthodox on their tags.
Archbishop Michael’s efforts were recognized at the highest level when on January 21, 1957, he became the first Orthodox hierarch to take part in the inaugural ceremony of a president, that of Dwight D. Eisenhower, by delivering the invocation. Earlier, on September 30, 1956, President and Mrs. Dwight Eisenhower participated in the laying of the cornerstone of Saint Sophia Cathedral in Washington, DC. First attending the Divine Liturgy and at the conclusion an overflowing crowd of over 1000 witnessed the President as he approached the foot of the altar and was presented with the Golden Cross of St. Andrew fastened around his neck by the Archbishop; Mrs. Mamie Eisenhower received a similar medal. It was a moving and historical moment (to be recognized also on the front page of the New York Times the next day). as the Archbishop blessed the President and Mrs. Eisenhower with these words:
May the Almighty and Everlasting God, our common Heavenly Father whom we know and love through our common Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ bestow upon you and Mrs. Eisenhower and all your family the best of health and all His blessing so that you, Mr. President, carry on the most effective way your high and responsible duties to the benefit of our dearly beloved America and the freedom living peoples and nations of the world.
Recognizing the financial and spiritual needs of a growing national church, Archbishop Michael proposed at the 1952 Clergy-Laity Congress in Los Angeles an increased family obligation to the Archdiocese, first introduced at the 1950 Clergy-Laity Congress in St. Louis. For ten years, the monodollarion, or one dollar per family obligation, instituted by Archbishop Athenagoras, had sustained the needs of the Archdiocese. Archbishop Michael urged the Congress delegates to approve the dekadollarion, or $10 per family.
On May 28th, 1958, Archbishop Michael opened the doors to St. Michael’s Home, the only Archdiocesan institution serving the needs of elderly Greek Orthodox. He also created the Office of News and Information/Public Relations, brought about acceptance of the Uniform Parish By-Laws of the Archdiocese and gained membership for the Archdiocese in the National Council of Churches of Christ.
GREEK ORTHODOX YOUTH OF AMERICA
Archbishop Michael’s accomplishments and innovations were many and varied. Foremost, however, was the founding of the Greek Orthodox Youth of America (GOYA) In a message to the 6th GOYA Conference in Los Angeles, July 15th, 1957, His Eminence concluded with these words:
As modern Americans of Greek descent you will accomplish much; but in attaining worldly destinies, never forget that as members of GOYA, you who are our pride and hope belong to an essentially religious organization, and whatever you attain on this earth is, in the last analysis, of little value without a deep and firm belief in the tried and tested religion of your forefathers. Adhere firmly to this faith, observe strictly its tenets, and in so doing you will in fact realize the motto of GOYA and truly live your Orthodox faith, thus becoming better Christians and better American citizens worthy of your noble Greek descent. With all my blessings for the future, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The untiring efforts of the Archbishop paid off. GOYA became the most vital segment of the Archdiocese with chapters in practically every community of the country. By the time of its founder’s death, GOYA had reached a membership of over 30,000. The 1957 Birmingham GOYA Conference approved a National Memorial Chapel Drive to raise funds for a Chapel to be built on the grounds of Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline, MA. Under the chairmanship of Ernie and Vickie Villas, GOYA pioneers, a goal of $150,000 was set, funds were raised and the magnificent Holy Cross Chapel became a reality – dedicated to Archbishop Michael and the Greek immigrants, the parents, who established Orthodoxy in the Nation, nurtured it, sacrificed and saved for it and placed it in the hands of new generations for safekeeping.
LAST PUBLIC APPEARANCE
The Grand Banquet of the 14th Biennial Congress at Salt Lake City was on July 5th, 1958 with almost 1000 people in attendance and had as the main speaker Howard W. Pyle, deputy assistant to President Eisenhower. He spoke eloquently on the importance of the Churches to American life and world peace. Leaving his sick bed again, Archbishop Michael told the delegates that “our Church never felt it has a monopoly of salvation” over other religions. He declared, “We must co-operate with other Christian denominations all over the world to settle social and moral questions”.
He concluded his remarks by referring to St. Paul’s famed epistle on agape: “Now abideth Faith, Hope and Love, of these, Love is the greatest.” And as he stepped down from the rostrum and prepared to depart for his coming struggle with death, which was to claim him a week later, he looked at the GOYA representatives and with a benign and prophetic smile he told them: “Look after GOYA”.
Immediately following the banquet, he was flown to New York by an army plane sent by President Eisenhower, and entered Doctors’ Hospital, where he was operated on for an intestinal disorder. He died in Doctors’ Hospital on July 13. Funeral services for Archbishop Michael, the first Greek Orthodox Archbishop to die in the United States, were held on July 17 at Holy Trinity Cathedral. Bishop Germanos of the Southern States Diocese, later to be named Patriarchal Vicar of the Archdiocese, officiated, assisted by five Greek Orthodox bishops, Archbishop Athenagoras of Great Britain and Metropolitan Germanos of Elias, Greece. Attending also were Archbishops and Bishops of Orthodox churches in the United States and over 150 priests from every state in the union. Also, in attendance were many religious, diplomatic and government officials.
[This article was written by Presbytera Nikki Stephanopoulos. Copyright Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and used with permission.]
June 10, 1870: The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church created the Diocese of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska. Previously, Alaska — or, before its 1867 sale to the United States, “Russian America” — was part of the Diocese of Kamchatka.
Making Alaska its own diocese was part of the transition in the wake of the 1867 sale. Four weeks later, Bishop John Mitropolsky was consecrated to head the new Alaskan diocese, but he actually set up his headquarters in San Francisco — outside of the official diocesan territory.
June 8, 1891: After three years of unceasing scandal, the Russian Holy Synod removed Bishop Vladimir Sokolovsky and reassigned him to a see in Russia. He was replaced by Bishop Nicholas Ziorov, who stabilized the diocese and oversaw its expansion throughout the United States.
June 4, 1896: Mikhail Borisovitch Maximovitch was born in the province of Kharkov, in what is now Ukraine. He went on to become the great Archbishop John, serving as a ROCOR bishop in Shanghai, Western Europe, and finally San Francisco. He was canonized in 1994.
June 5, 1901: Fr. Misael Karydis, pastor of Holy Trinity Church in New Orleans, committed suicide in a New York hotel. In December 2009, I wrote a pair of articles on this tragic (and mysterious) incident; click HERE and HERE to read them.
Fr. Misael was born in Bulgaria in October 1847. He came to New Orleans in 1880 or ’81, and was the priest there for 20 years. Those 20 years witnessed tremendous changes in American Orthodoxy. When Fr. Misael arrived, his New Orleans parish was one of just three Orthodox communities in the contiguous United States (San Francisco and New York being the other two). His parish was under the Church of Greece, although the extent of that relationship, and Fr. Misael’s own ecclesiastical affiliation, are unclear.
It’s hard to get a good handle on the sort of person Fr. Misael was. We know that, in 1888, he got into a fistfight with a Greek newspaper reporter. In the days following his death, reports surfaced that he was a reclusive inventor, obsessed with building a flying machine (this was two years before the Wright brothers’ flight at Kitty Hawk). More darkly, there are suggestions that he may have abused children.
Why he committed suicide in New York, rather than New Orleans, is not really clear. Apparently, he left New Orleans after receiving word that his father had died in Bulgaria. Arriving in New York, he met with Greek consul Demetrius Botassi, checked into a hotel under a false name, ate dinner, and then shot himself. He lingered for a bit before dying, but wouldn’t talk to anyone.
The whole thing is really mysterious, and if you want to learn more, check out the two articles I linked to above.
June 8, 1907: Bishop Platon Rozhdestvensky was elevated to Archbishop and assigned to replace St. Tikhon as primate of the Russian Archdiocese in America. Platon served in America until 1914, when he was reassigned to a prominent see in the Russian Empire. He returned to America in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution and the Russian Civil War.
June 6, 1926: Fr. Arseny Chahovtsov was consecrated in Belgrade, Serbia to be the Bishop of Winnipeg, Canada. This was at a time when the Russian Metropolia was a part of ROCOR, and the consecration itself was presided over by ROCOR’s First Hierarch, Metropolitan Antonii Khrapovitskii. It also had the blessings of the Serbian Patriarch and Metropolitan Platon Rozhdestevsky of the Metropolia.
June 10, 1926: Fr. Moses Abihider died. He had immigrated to America in 1908 and served as a priest under St. Raphael Hawaweeny in the Syro-Arab Mission. For the great majority of his career, he was assigned to Springfield, MA.
The Abihiders had a stunning 17 children, of whom at least nine survived to adulthood. According to one anecdote related by a relative of the Abihider family, a suitor came to seek the hand of one of the Abihider girls. Fr. Moses interrogated the man, and, satisfied of his worthiness, told the daughter, “Come meet your husband. Get ready; you will be married next Saturday.”
Fr. Moses must have been close friends with Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh, because one of his sons was named Aftimios and had the archbishop as his godfather. In 1999, Aftimios Abihider was the publisher of the biography of Aftimios Ofiesh, written by Ofiesh’s widow Miriam.
Fr. Moses is perhaps best known for being featured on the tombstone of St. Raphael. He is one of six clergymen listed along with the great bishop, and all were at one time buried together at Brooklyn’s Mount Olivet Cemetery. However, in 1988, the remains of St. Raphael and two of the others (Bishops Emmanuel Abo-Hatab and Sophronios Beshara) were transferred, along with the tombstone, to the Antiochian Village in Pennsylvania. It seems most likely that Fr. Moses’ remains are still at Mount Olivet.
June 10, 1927: Fr. Panagiotis Phiambolis, one of the first Greek Orthodox priests in America, died in St. Louis at the age of 87. A married priest, he came to America in 1892 to become the first pastor of the first Orthodox church in Chicago. Later, he served in Boston and then St. Louis, where he remained for the rest of his life. While in St. Louis, his parish split in 1910 and then reunited in 1917. Fr. Panagiotis retired the following year, at age 78. His daughter Helen Jannopoulo went on to become an accomplished author, and her book And Across Big Seas recounts events from her own life, including a lot of details on the family’s move from Greece to Chicago.
June 10, 1931: The future Antiochian Metropolitan Philip Saliba was born.
June 9, 1980: President Jimmy Carter awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Archbishop Iakovos Coucouzis, primate of the Greek Archdiocese. The medal is now on display as part of the Archbishop Iakovos Collection at Hellenic College in Brookline, MA. President Carter made these remarks when giving Iakovos the award:
One of the most exciting days of my Presidency was a year or so ago when we had this entire lawn almost filled with delighted Greek Americans who share with me and others the admiration that we all feel for the next honoree. I’d like to ask Archbishop Iakovos to come forward.
Greek Orthodox Archbishop Iakovos has long put into practice what he has preached. As a progressive religious leader concerned with human rights and the ecumenical movement, he has marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and has met with the Pope. As the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America concerned with his congregation, he has given guidance to millions.
May 17, 1870: The newly ordained convert priest Fr. Nicholas Bjerring celebrated his first Divine Liturgy in St. Petersburg, Russia. He didn’t know Church Slavonic, so he served in German.
May 19, 1884: Archimandrite Stephen Hatherly, a convert priest from England, arrived in Philadelphia. I wrote about Hatherly’s visit almost three years ago. The basic story is this: In 1883, the Russian government closed its chapel, and the priest, Bjerring, became a Presbyterian. Hatherly, a priest under the Ecumenical Patriarchate, heard about these events and asked for permission to make a go at his own New York mission. After getting the all-clear from Russia, he sailed for America in 1884, arriving in Philadelphia on May 19 — this week. But, as I explain in the article, the mission was a failure; the few Orthodox people in New York had little interest in attending a church. Hatherly returned to England disappointed.
One thing I’ve been meaning to do, but haven’t yet, is tell Hatherly’s own story, because it’s phenomenally interesting. He was an exact contemporary of the somewhat better known English convert J.J. Overbeck, an author and editor of the Orthodox Catholic Review. Overbeck wanted to establish a “Western Orthodox Church,” including union with the Church of England, and today he’s regarded as a sort of progenitor of the Western Rite. Hatherly, on the other hand, viewed a full-blown union between Orthodoxy and Anglicanism as unrealistic. Instead, he preferred simply to convert Anglicans to (standard Byzantine Rite) Orthodoxy — something that raised the ire of the Anglican hierarchy, who in turn induced Constantinople to forbid Hatherly from evangelizing his countrymen. On top of all this, Hatherly was an accomplished church musician. As I said, writing an article about his life is on my to-do list.
May 19, 1905: Bishop Tikhon Bellavin, head of the Russian Mission in North America, was elevated to Archbishop by the Holy Synod of Russia.
May 17, 1922: Ecumenical Patriarch Meletios Metaxakis issued a tomos, formally establishing the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America as a jurisdiction under the Ecumenical Patriarchate. As Archbishop of Athens, the controversial Meletios had been in America from 1918-1921, during which time he organized the Greek Archdiocese and convened its first Clergy-Laity Congress. While in America, Meletios was deposed by the Holy Synod of Greece, but soon after this, he was elected Patriarch of Constantinople. This 1922 tomos thus transferred the GOA from Meletios’ old see (Athens) to his new one (Constantinople).
How could he get away with such unilateral action? Well, back in 1908, the Ecumenical Patriarchate had “transferred” the Greek churches in the “diaspora” (particularly America) from itself to Athens. Which is sort of misleading, because a lot of the Greek churches in America were already under Athens, so the transfer affected only that portion of the Greeks who had been under Constantinople. Anyway, Athens didn’t really do much with America over the next decade, until Meletios, as Archbishop of Athens, came along in 1918. In issuing this 1922 tomos, Meletios was revoking the earlier 1908 transfer. And the GOA has been under Constantinople ever since.
May 14, 1957: Archbishop Jeronim Chernov of Eastern Canada (Russian Metropolia) died.
May 14, 1965: Metropolitan Leonty Turkevich, primate of the Russian Metropolia, died. Leonty is one of those giants of American Orthodox history, on par with Tikhon, Iakovos, and Bashir. Many think he’s a saint, and I strongly suspect that they’re right. One of the amazing things about Leonty is that he lived through so much. Originally known as Fr. Leonid, he was a key figure in the Russian Mission dating to the episcopate of St. Tikhon. He ran the seminary, succeeded St. Alexander Hotovitzky as dean of the main cathedral, and generally was the most important priest in the Archdiocese prior to the Russian Revolution.
Then, in 1917, he participated in the monumental All-Russian Sobor — one of the pivotal church councils in Russian history. He made it out of revolutionary Russia and back to the US, where he was, again, probably the key priest in the Russian Metropolia, which rose from the ashes of the Russian Mission. After being widowed, he was almost consecrated a bishop for Aftimios Ofiesh’s American Orthodox Catholic Church experiment, and he ended up becoming the Metropolia’s Bishop of Chicago. When the Metropolia’s primate, Metropolitan Theophilus Pashkovsky, died in 1952, Leonty was elected to be his successor.
Anyway, all that is ridiculously cursory, and I can only fit so much into this article. But Aram Sarkisian, who knows far more about Leonty than I do, will be running a full-length piece here very soon.
May 18, 1970: The Patriarchate of Moscow formally granted autocephaly to the Russian Metropolia in America, which changed its name to the “Orthodox Church in America.” This event reverberated throughout the Orthodox world, and it remains controversial to this day. While everyone recognizes the OCA as fully canonical, only a minority of the world’s Orthodox Churches acknowledge the OCA as an autocephalous Local Church.
May 14, 1972: Tragedy struck at ROCOR’s Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY, where one seminarian stabbed another to death. Both men had been studying for the priesthood.
May 15, 1979: Bishop Dionisije Milivojevich, the Serbian Orthodox bishop whose battle with his mother church went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, died in Illinois.
May 18, 1985: Fr. John Karastamatis, a Greek priest in Santa Cruz, CA, was brutally murdered. Some of his admirers immediately declared him to have been martyred for the faith, and to this day, you’ll run into lists of saints that include “Hieromartyr John of Santa Cruz.” But the subsequent police investigation revealed that he was killed by the husband of the parish secretary, and at trial, witness testimony made it clear that Karastamatis was not someone who should be venerated as a saint. I don’t want to get into the gory details, mainly because this didn’t happen all that long ago and Karastamatis’ family is still around, but suffice it to say that while his murder was a great tragedy, the calls for his canonization were terribly misplaced.
May 18, 2000: Archbishop Sylvester Haruns of Montreal (OCA) died.
May 14, 2006: Conclusion of the ROCOR All-Diaspora Council, which approved reconciliation between ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate.
May 17, 2007: In Moscow, ROCOR signed the Act of Canonical Communion, re-establishing full communion with the Moscow Patriarchate.
May 18, 2008: Another big ROCOR moment — Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral was enthroned as First Hierarch of ROCOR.
On March 5, 1958, the New York Times ran the following article:
AUTHOR ADOPTS FAITH
Elliot Paul, in Hospital, Joins Greek Orthodox Church
PROVIDENCE, R.I., March 4 (AP) — Elliot Paul, author, became a member of the Greek Eastern Orthodox Church today in bedside ceremonies at the Veterans Administration Hospital here.
Mr. Paul is seriously ill with arteriosclerosis and heart disease. When he entered the hospital a few weeks ago, he listed his religion as “agnostic.” He was born in Malden, Mass., a member of a Congregational family.
The 68-year-old author said his desire for conversion came from his admiration for Greek Orthodox friends whose faith and warmth appealed to him.
Elliot Paul lived a fascinating life. He worked as a journalist, authored novels, and later wrote ten Hollywood screenplays, most notably Rhapsody in Blue. His friends included the famed novelists James Joyce and Gertrude Stein. He was a huge fan of jazz, moonlighting as a pianist and writing the screenplay for Billie Holliday’s only acting role. Paul was married (and divorced) five times, and, as the Times indicates, he identified as an agnostic until the very end of his life.
And it was the very end — just a month after joining the Church, Paul died of his ailments. His obituary in the Bridgeport Post offers a bit more detail on his conversion: “After his hospitalization, Paul mentioned his desire to enter the church to the hospital Protestant chaplain, Rev. Frank S. Hall. The chaplain notified the Very Rev. John A. Limberakis, pastor of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation.”
The obituary also re-emphasized that the biggest factor in Paul’s conversion was the faith and love of his Orthodox friends. It’s a reminder that quiet example and loyal friendship can be just as effective as overt evangelization.