Posts tagged newspapers
The Library of Congress website has all sorts of great resources, including a collection of old photos from the Chicago Daily News. The following five photos are of the newly-built Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago.
– Matthew Namee
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.
Over a year ago, I wrote about Fr. Basil Bouroff, one of the first priests of the Russian church in Chicago (now Holy Trinity OCA Cathedral). While serving as a priest, Bouroff began attending the new University of Chicago. His religious and/or political views put him in hot water with Bishop Nicholas Ziorov, who ousted Bouroff and replaced him with the young, newly-ordained St. John Kochurov. Needless to say, things worked out in the end for the Chicago parish.
But what of Fr. Basil Bouroff? I still don’t know the full story, but I just stumbled upon an enlightening article in the Chicago Tribune, dated March 31, 1906. Here is the article, in full (and you’ll probably want to read my original article before reading this one):
Is Chicago the cradle of Russian liberty? Were the recent manifestoes of the czar granting what is assumed to be a measure of freedom to the oppressed Slavs the direct result of the work of a Russian subject who fled from his mother country to America, and who is now residing in Chicago? Were the basic principles of the new Russian constitution outlined by this man, who has studied conditions here for the last twenty years?
These are questions which friends of Vasili Andreevitch Bouroff answer in the affirmative. Bouroff, who is a member of the Russian nobility, and who occupied at one time a prominent part in the machine of the Slavic government, is confident that he has been responsible for the recent reforms in Russia.
Bouroff, who has just received an A.B. degree from the University of Chicago, declares he is not a socialist, an anarchist, nor a believer in radical reforms. He has a superior education, having studied in Russia, France, England, and the United States. He declares he has the confidence of Prime Minister Witte and Count Pobyedonostseff, former procurator general of the holy synod, and through them has influence with the czar.
Bouroff has twice fled from Russia, and the czar has invited him twice to return and live among his people again. Twelve years ago he left Russia again and set out to study the governments of Europe and America. He now has crystallized his views and has presented them to his government for consideration.
Three pamphlets have been issued by Bouroff’s friends in Russia, putting forth his arguments for reforms, and after the appearance of each one has come, respectively, the “rescript,” the first manifesto, and the second manifesto.
“Nobody has presented these arguments to these people before,” said Bouroff yesterday. “It was the first article on this subject. The czar saw his nation standing below other nations, and I believed it opened his eyes. I aimed to abolish classes before the law and to elevate the peasantry to the same level. This was embodied in the main in the ‘rescript’ issued later.
“Prince Meschersky, editor of one of the prominent papers of Russia, replied to my statements, writing against constitutional government. After reading his views I wrote my second letter. I disproved his views on historic ground. He argued that the people were not ready. In this I showed he was wrong.
“The czar has been misrepresented in America. He is a sincere, intelligent man, who did not waste his youth but spent his time studying and reading. He is not a genius, perhaps, but he is open minded and has believed all along that what he was doing was the right course. Now he has seen a new light, as you say.”
Bouroff was born near St. Petersburg in December, 1864. After a common school education he went to the Academy of St. Petersburg. Since then he has studied in Paris and London. He entered the University of Chicago in 1894, and, after spending four years there, commenced a sociological and political study of the country. Later he returned to the university, and was given a degree at the convocation last week.
The most interesting thing about this article, of course, is that it makes no mention whatsoever about Bouroff’s career as an Orthodox priest. There’s a passing mention of his relationship with Pobedonostsev, the powerful Ober Procurator of the Holy Synod, but that’s about it. The “Academy of St. Petersburg” was actually the Theological Academy, and when Bouroff was in London, he was attached to the city’s Russian Orthodox church. Really, the utter lack of any comment on his priestly career seems almost intentional, as if Bouroff purposefully neglected to tell the Chicago Tribune reporter about it.
The remainder of Bouroff’s life is a mystery. The University of Chicago alumni directly of 1910 has Bouroff living in St. Petersburg, Russia. The 1919 directory, however, indicates that Bouroff’s address was not known.
Was he really a member of the Russian nobility, as he told the Tribune in 1906? Did he actually have close ties with Witte and Pobedonostsev, and a profound influence on the policies of the tsar? Or was he another Agapius Honcharenko, falsely claiming to be well-connected and influential? And what, exactly, was his relationship with the Orthodox Church? The answers to all of these questions remain unknown.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
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Last week, we reprinted Isabel Hapgood’s account of St. Raphael’s funeral. The Hapgood article appeared in the New York Tribune on March 8, 1915. Two days later, the paper published the following letter to the editor from Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine:
To the Editor of The Tribune.
Sir: An unfortunate mistake was made in an article written by Miss Isabel Hapgood which would make it seem to appear that the Russian Bishop and his Russian clergy did not pay the proper repsect to the office of the Syrian Bishop at the funeral. The words to which exception is taken are as follows: “The Syrian priests, in passing, kissed the dead Bishop’s hand after kissing the cross. The Russian Bishop and priests passed without saluting cross and hand.”
Indeed, the respect and episcopal honor paid to Bishop Raphael’s office and person by Bishop Alexander was the most remarkable expression of love that has ever been known in the United States to the body of a dead prelate. From the moment Bishop Alexander was notified of his brother Bishop’s death until the day after his burial in the crypt of the cathedral (which, by the bye was not built by Bishop Raphael, as Miss Hapgood, through misapprehension, also states) he and his clergy were present and gave the same attention as if the deceased Bishop was of their own nationality. The usual custom of kissing the cross and the hand of the dead Bishop was also observed.
If, from matter of respect to the Syrian clergy, who had come from great distance to the funeral, Bishop Alexander and his clergy gave way for a moment, it was altogether because of the tenderness toward thirty priests of the Syrian Bishop who crowded around the casket brokenhearted and bereaved. However, from the first visitation to the dead body until the casket lid was locked down, Bishop Alexander and his clergy paid every required honor — indeed, to such an extent that it might have appeared to outsiders that he was their own Bishop and not that of the Syrian flock.
INGRAM N.W. IRVINE.
St. Nicholas Cathedral, March 9, 1915
As regular readers of this website know, Irvine was a prominent Episcopal priest who converted to Orthodoxy and was ordained by St. Tikhon in 1905. Irvine worked closely with St. Raphael and his Syrian Mission from the beginning, and around 1909, he was actually transferred to St. Raphael’s own jurisdiction. Irvine remained there until St. Raphael’s death, after which he returned to the main Russian Mission. Irvine was a tireless promoter of the use of English in American Orthodoxy, the education of Orthodox children, and the unity of all Orthodox ethnic groups under the Russian Archdiocese.
As we have seen before (and will see again), Irvine had an antagonistic relationship with Isabel Hapgood, the Episcopalian writer and linguist who translated the Service Book into English in 1906. While the pair shared an interest in spreading the use of English in American Orthodox parishes, they differed on virtually everything else. Hapgood’s views of Irvine aren’t well recorded (or, if they are, they haven’t been discovered yet), but Irvine is on record many times as an outspoken opponent of Hapgood and nearly all that she stood for. It is therefore unsurprising that Irvine would publicly call out Hapgood on such a seemingly insignificant error in an otherwise accurate article on St. Raphael’s funeral.
Then again, perhaps it wasn’t so insignificant. It’s established that, as early as St. Raphael’s funeral itself, the Syrian priests were divided over whether they should be under Russia or Antioch (see, for instance, the 1924 court case Hanna v. Malick). We also know, from other documents, that Irvine strongly supported the unity of American Orthodoxy under Russian jurisdiction. I’m just speculating here, but it is entirely possible that Irvine read Hapgood’s error in the context of the jurisdictional uncertainty and division that was beginning to overtake the Syrian Mission in the days and weeks after St. Raphael’s death. Viewed in this light, Irvine may have felt it necessary to emphasize, very publicly, the unity between the Russians and the Syrians. The fact that it also accorded him the opportunity to criticize his longtime foe, Hapgood, would have been icing on the cake.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
In the comments section of an old article I wrote on the first Orthodox parishes in each US state, Isa Almisry and I have recently had an interesting exchange about an Old Catholic parish in Wisconsin which discussed joining (and possibly did briefly join) the Russian Orthodox Church in 1891-92. This story involves Joseph Rene Vilatte, a former Roman Catholic priest who went on to become a prolific vagante bishop and who would reappear in American Orthodox history over the coming decades.
I don’t really have the expertise to outline the history of the Old Catholic movement, but suffice it to say that, in the latter half of the 19th century (and especially after the first Vatican Council in 1870, which promulgated the dogma of papal infallibility), a number of Roman Catholics broke away from their church.
Joseph Rene Vilatte was born in Paris in 1854. Originally, he was a Roman Catholic, but he became the quintessential religious chameleon as an adult. In the 1880s he came to the United States, where he served as a Presbyterian missionary in a Belgian Old Catholic community in Green Bay, Wisconsin. While there, he made contact with local Episcopal Bishop John Brown of Fond du Lac, who in turn recommended to the Old Catholic Bishop Edward Herzog of Bern, Switzerland that Vilatte be ordained a priest. This took place in 1886.
Soon, Bishop Brown died, and the new Episcopal bishop of Fond du Lac, Charles Grafton (the future friend of St. Tikhon), did not see eye to eye with Vilatte. Forced to make a choice between Episcopalianism and Old Catholicism, Vilatte chose the latter, and he tried to have himself consecrated a bishop in the Old Catholic Church. The church authorities in Europe declined. This is where our story begins. [Incidentally, this preliminary information on Vilatte comes from Theodore Natsoulas, "Patriarch McGuire and the Spread of the African Orthodox Church to Africa, Journal of Religion in Africa 12:2 (1981), 81-104. This is one of the only scholarly sources which discusses Vilatte at any length.]
Vilatte wanted to be consecrated a bishop, and he wanted as much autonomy as possible. That is the first thing to understand. In the paper cited above, Theodore Natsoulas says that the Old Catholics turned down Vilatte because he was “unpredictable,” and they did not want him to be their sole representative in America. Here is how Natsoulas describes what happened next:
[Vilatte's] attempts to be raised to the episcopate included approaches to the Bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in America and to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Green Bay. Both turned him down, although Vladimir, the Russian Bishop, in order to incorporate the Old Catholics within his fold, did extend some form of recognition and protection to Vilatte and the Old Catholic Church. Vladimir and Vilatte, however, could not arrive at a mutually satisfactory agreement.
It all began when Vilatte traveled to San Francisco to meet with Bishop Vladimir, sometime in 1890 or early 1891. Interestingly, this coincided almost precisely with the visit of a delegation of Uniates from St. Alexis Toth’s parish in Minneapolis. It must have been amazing for Bishop Vladimir, sitting there in San Francisco, to receive near-simultaneous unsolicited visits from two Upper Midwest groups connected to Roman Catholicism and seeking reception into the Orthodox Church.
Bishop Vladimir traveled to Minneapolis in March of 1891 and formally received the Minneapolis parish into Orthodoxy. After that historic visit, Vladimir passed through Chicago, which had a sizeable Orthodox community which was determined to remain independent of the controversial Bishop Vladimir. He left Chicago on April 10, and by April 11 he was in Green Bay. The Milwaukee Sentinel reported the next day that Vladimir came for the purpose of visiting Vilatte and his Old Catholic parish in nearby Dyckesville. The Russian bishop “expressed great sympathy with [Vilatte's] work, and it is stated that he was agreeably surprised to find that the doctrinal basis of the Old Catholics at this place, and that of his own large church of 100,000,000 souls were precisely identical.”
But what, exactly, was the relationship between the Russian Diocese and the Old Catholics in Wisconsin? According to a web-published biography of Vilatte by Bertil Persson (the reliability of which is unclear), Vilatte had originally visited Bishop Vladimir in San Francisco in January 1891, at which time Vladimir “approached The Holy Synod of The Russian Orthodox Church suggesting that Vilatte should be consecrated.” I don’t doubt that Bishop Vladimir notified the Holy Synod of Vilatte’s visit, but I cannot believe that he actually suggested that the Russian Church consecrate the man.
Also according to the Persson biography, after visiting Vilatte’s parish in April, Bishop Vladimir issued the following certificate:
CERTIFICATE. The Russian Ecclesiastical Consistory of Alaska, San Francisco, Cal: May 9, 1891. By the Grace of God and the Authority bestowed on me by the Apostolic Succession, I, VLADIMIR, Bishop of the Orthodox Catholic Church, announce to all clergymen of the different Christian denominations and to all Old Catholics that The Reverend Joseph René Vilatte, Superior of the Old Catholic Parish in Dyckesville, Wisc:, is now a true Old Catholic Orthodox Christian, under the patronage of our Church, and no Bishop or Priest of any denomination has the right to interdict him or to suspend his religious duties, except the Holy Synod of the Russian Church, and myself. Any action contrary to this declaration, is null and void on the basis of liberty of conscience and the law of this country. ‡VLADIMIR, Bishop of the Greco-Russian Orthodox Ch.
I have no idea whether this document is authentic or not, and unfortunately, Persson only reprinted the text, so we can’t examine the letterhead or Bishop Vladimir’s signature.
Anyway, Bishop Vladimir was recalled to Russia soon after all this, in the wake of a series of scandals in his San Francisco cathedral. His replacement, Bishop Nicholas Ziorov, visited the Wisconsin Old Catholics in May 1892. According to Dom Augustine de Angelis in the Fond Du Lac Reporter (quoted in the Milwaukee Sentinel, 5/16/1892), “Bishop Nicholas, head of the Greek church in America, visited the Old Catholic mission at Dyckesville, last Monday. He has been in America only a month and a half, but has already made his episcopal visitation of the Orthodox and Old Catholic churches, preparatory to his annual visitation of the vast region of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. [...] His first impressions of America and Americans are very favorable, and he sympathizes with us in our hopes of seeing an Orthodox American church, in which mass shall be said in English, French, German, etc., until all have become so American that English shall be the common tongue of all…”
But the parish priest, Vilatte, wasn’t there. He was in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), awaiting his long-sought consecration to the episcopate. He had found a taker in the ancient Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, the non-Chalcedonian church in India. Vilatte never seems to have considered himself to be a Malankara Syrian Orthodox; he was interested in their apostolic succession, not their actual Church. (As Theodore Natsoulas puts it, “Vilatte’s commitment to the [Malankara] Church of Antioch, or, in fact, to any other religious organization, never was very deep.”) He returned to Dyckesville in August, and on September 11, the New York Times reported that Vilatte had created the American Catholic Church. Needless to say, any connection he might have had with the Russian Diocese of the Aleutian Islands was dead by this point.
Vilatte went on to an exceedingly colorful career as a vagante bishop, and many little Old Catholic and pseudo-Orthodox groups have websites claiming “apostolic succession” through him. More importantly for our purposes, Vilatte remained in occasional contact with Orthodoxy. Robert Josias Morgan — soon to become Fr. Raphael, the first black Orthodox priest in America — was briefly a deacon in Vilatte’s church in the early 1900s. And many years later, in 1921, Vilatte consecrated George Alexander McGuire, who immediately formed the “African Orthodox Church.”
Was Vilatte’s Old Catholic parish once a part of the Russian Orthodox Church? Even if we assume that the purported certificate from Bishop Vladimir is authentic, I’m really not sure. Bishop Vladimir may have viewed St. Alexis Toth and Joseph Rene Vilatte as parallel church leaders, and he may have imagined that, just as Toth began a flood of Uniate conversions to Orthodoxy, so too Vilatte would be the first of thousands of Old Catholics to join the Russian Mission. But from Vilatte’s perspective, this whole idea would have been laughable. He was, it seems, utterly committed to becoming a vagante bishop. He wanted a mechanical, legalistic “apostolic succession,” and then he wanted to be left to his own devices. There is simply no way that he, or his Wisconsin parish, could have been effectively incorporated into the Russian Mission.
Much of this story remains a mystery, but at this juncture, I am most struck by the contrast between Toth and Vilatte, both of whom, in their own very different ways, made substantial impacts on the religious life of the United States in the decades that followed.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]