Posts tagged Iakovos Coucouzis
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.
March 29, 1859: Fr. Peter Ekaterinovsky (aka Lysakov) was consecrated in Irkutsk, in Siberia, and given the title Bishop of New Archangel (Sitka), Alaska. He was about 38 years old. His predecessor was St. Innocent Veniaminov, who had initially been based in Sitka as diocesan bishop. In 1852, the diocesan seat was moved to Siberia, leaving Alaska without a resident bishop. Eventually, the Russian Holy Synod rearranged things, allowing for an auxiliary bishop in Sitka, which is how we get to Bishop Peter’s consecration. Prior to that, Bishop Peter had been the rector of the Orthodox seminary in Sitka, so he was a natural choice for the new auxiliary post. As bishop, he continued St. Innocent’s missionary work; according to the book Orthodox America, he opened two new missionary schools and extended mission activity to the Bering Straits. Also, according to his entry on OrthodoxWiki, he initiated an investigation into the life of St. Herman of Alaska, which ultimately culminated in St. Herman’s canonization a century later. In 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire, and Bishop Peter was appointed Bishop of Irkutsk. He went on to serve as a diocesan bishop, Holy Synod official, and monastery administrator before his death in 1889.
March 31, 1879: On Holy Saturday, St. Innocent, by now the Metropolitan of Moscow, died. Rather than try to summarize his life in a paragraph (a nearly impossible task), I would recommend reading this excellent homily on St. Innocent by another great American missionary, Fr. Sebastian Dabovich.
April 1, 1959: Archbishop Iakovos Coucouzis was enthroned in New York as the primate of the Greek Archdiocese.
March 26, 1965: The famous cover of LIFE magazine, featuring Martin Luther King and Archbishop Iakovos, was published. The photo was taken during the famous civil rights march to the courthouse in Montgomery, Alabama. In an earlier march, a Unitarian minister who participated was beaten to death, and Iakovos joined the next march in response to the murder. Iakovos’ involvement in the King march was featured prominently in Dr. Albert Raboteau’s 2006 “Orthodoxy in America” lecture at Fordham University, the text of which is available online.
March 29, 2000: The OCA Holy Synod proclaimed Bishop Raphael Hawaweeny to be a saint. He was consecrated on May 13.
Also, a bit of a programming note: I wasn’t able to record this as a podcast this week — time just got away from me. Sorry about that!
February 14, 1872: Grand Duke Alexis of Russia, on a tour of the United States, visited New Orleans and met with representatives of the city’s fledgling Orthodox parish. The Grand Duke presented gifts to the parish, including, most likely, a gold-embossed Gospel book. 130 years later, the parish still has these gifts.
February 14, 1959: The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elected Fr. James Coucouzis to be the new Greek Archbishop of North and South America. The new primate took the name Iakovos and was the most prominent and influential figure in American Orthodoxy until his retirement in the 1990s.
February 15, 1966: Antiochian Metropolitan Antony Bashir died in Boston at the age of 67. He had led the Antiochian Archdiocese of New York for three decades, and was one of the most important American Orthodox bishops of his time. For more on Bashir, check out the article and podcast I did two years ago.
February 17, 1977: Metropolitan Orestes Chornock, founding primate of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese, died. There is a nice little biography of Met Orestes on the ACROD website; click here to read it.
February 19, 1909: In South Omaha, Nebraska, a Greek man named John Masourides shot and killed policeman Ed Lowery. Two days later, a mass meeting was called to decide how to “rid the city of the undesirable Greeks.” At the close of the meeting, a mob descended on the Greek quarter. They attacked the Greeks, rioted, and destroyed property. The Greeks fled the city. The governor called in the National Guard. Order was restored, but the bigots of South Omaha had accomplished their goal: the Greeks were gone, and most of them would never return. The mass exodus almost wiped out the parish of St. John the Baptist. To learn more, check out this article I wrote in 2010.
Editor’s note: The following article was written by Christopher Tripoulas of The National Herald, the leading Greek-American newspaper. It was originally published on The National Herald‘s blog on October 27. (Click here to view the original.) Many thanks to Mr. Tripoulas for allowing us to reprint the article.
During an age when the “what have you done for me lately” mentality reigns supreme, the Annunciation Cathedral of New England is undertaking a very auspicious project that pays tribute to one of its greatest ever memorable benefactors and stands as a very positive example within the Greek-American community. The Cathedral’s decision to adopt a proposal by its dean, V. Rev. Cleopas Strongylis, to: a) compile its history during Archbishop Iakovos’ deanship, b) create a digital archive of the Cathedral’s historical files, and c) establish a Research Center in the Cathedral Mansion for the promotion and preservation of the Cathedral’s history, is an initiative that definitely deserves to be commended. Like the old Greek saying goes, if you don’t praise your home, it will fall and crash down upon you… and what better way to praise and celebrate the history of this 100-year-plus-old community than to commemorate its most celebrated period: Iakovos’ tenure – then known by most as Archimandrite James A. Coucouzes – as its dean.
This historical study is particularly poignant today, and not just because it coincides with the 70th anniversary of Iakovos’ appointment to the Cathedral or his centennial of birth, but also because it comes at a time when there is an apparent leadership crisis plaguing society in general. The late archbishop has sometimes been characterized as “larger than life.” His decisions, like those of every great leader, sometimes sparked controversy and remained under the historical microscope for years to come. But whether you agree with of all his decisions or not, there’s no debating Iakovos’ leadership qualities and ability to inspire.
What makes this particular work all the more interesting is that it provides a closer look at one of the most significant ecclesiastical figures of the Twentieth Century, before he put on the Archbishop’s miter. It will provide information that will help to reveal the qualities, passion, and mentality that played a key part in transforming this dynamic Boston area priest, Archimandrite James Coucouzes, into national Church and ethnic leader: Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America.
The early years and priestly ministry of the man who went on to lead the Church in America for four decades naturally never gets as much attention as does his high-profile career as archbishop and particularly his storied trips to the White House. But the humble confines of his office on Parker & Ruggles Streets in Boston have just as much to do with the making of this legendary leader, because it was there that he first laid the foundations for his later work and came of age.
There is a real potential for this study to provide a wonderful inspiration and serve as a great resource for clergymen and laypersons alike, possibly even encouraging them to explore the histories of their own communities or organizations. By researching precisely what it was about Coucouzes’ tenure that helped to lay the groundwork for the Boston Cathedral’s “Golden Era” and its dean’s subsequent astronomic rise in the Church’s ranks, it might be possible to redefine our own expectations for what we envision our future “golden era” to be.
Coucouzes’ deanship simply was prolific. He worked endless hours dedicating his attention to every aspect of the community life – spiritual, educational, and social. In addition, he showed particular interest in Hellenic national issues and care for the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Those are just some of the aspects that the study promises to bring to the forefront, thus better acquainting us with the iconic figure that would go on to leave an indelible mark in the Greek Diaspora.
But the Cathedral’s initiative is also important because in addition to enriching history, it will use this work to enhance and beautify its facilities and services in a rather ingenious way. This project hopefully will speak to the minds and hearts of prospective donors to relive history while renovating the community as well. And in doing so, it will provide readers with a look at how some of the pioneering Greeks and their ever-memorable spiritual leader chased progress, while helping inspire today’s generation of church and lay leaders to recapture some of that all important ingenuity.
This work was made possible thanks to the commendable efforts of Nikie Calles, Director of Archives at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Anyone who has ever visited the Archives can plainly see what a superb job Calles has done capturing and organizing the history of not just the Church, but of the entire Greek-American community. In addition, the generous support of noble contributors like Stephen and Catherine Pappas and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation should also be recognized, as their financial assistance was essential in helping Calles to apply her many talents and compile this tremendous didactic and informational resource.
And so, whether based on donations from philanthropists like the Pappases or the Foundation, Calles’ invaluable work, or the “philotimo” shown by the Boston Cathedral, the encouraging sign is that the Greek-American Community still loves its history, and as long as there is genuine love for the past, there is all the reason to hope for a brighter tomorrow. Because in a true community of persons, the dreams of the previous generation are perpetually being realized by its successors.
This article was written by Christopher Tripoulas of The National Herald and has been reprinted with permission from the author. To view the original article, click here.
When I hear “Archbishop Iakovos” and “civil rights,” I immediately recall that famous cover of LIFE, with the powerful Greek Archbishop standing next to Martin Luther King, Jr. during King’s legendary 1965 march in Selma, Alabama. So imagine my surprise when I stumbled onto an August 14, 1963 Los Angeles Times article in which Iakovos argued against public civil rights demonstrations.
Don’t get me wrong — Archbishop Iakovos was opposed to racism, and he supported the civil rights movement. But he told the LA Times that he wouldn’t participate in a planned demonstration in Washington, DC, even though the National Council of Churches (in which Iakovos was a leading figure) was involved.
“I am for civil rights and equality,” Iakovos explained, “but I think that if we believe we have some sort of moral influence over our congregations we should limit ourselves to that task and not try to exert influence in massive demonstrations.”
He continued, “Too often the demonstrators go home and say, ‘I did my part,’ but refuse to carry through. How many of them are willing to live with Negroes as neighbors, or give them a job or train them for a skill? In those areas lie the long-range benefits.”
What about Orthodoxy and the black population? “Our doors are open to all who care to worship with us,” Archbishop Iakovos said, but then he added, “though of course it is difficult for one of a non-Orthodox background to come into our faith.”
Just a couple of months before this, both Iakovos and Martin Luther King had been named to the National Council of Churches’ Commission on Religion and Race. The 20 or so months that followed must have changed the Archbishop’s views, because in March 1965, Iakovos joined King in his Selma march.
This article was written by Matthew Namee.