Posts tagged parishes
The following remarkable story appeared in the New York Times on May 1, 1908. If anyone can provide more information, please email me at mfnamee [at] gmail [dot] com.
BABY LEFT IN CHURCH; SOCIETY TO ADOPT IT
Advent of the Little Stranger Caused Flurry Among Women of the Ladies’ Aid
LEFT IN JANITOR’S BED
The Infant Is Sent Temporarily to Bellevue, but the Women Say They Want to Bring It Up.
The day before yesterday, and theretofore, the basement door of the Greek Orthodox Church, Holy Trinity, at Seventy-second Street and Lexington Avenue, could be opened without the slightest sound. It always stood unlocked.
But yesterday there was a shrill bell attached to the door, which rang sharply whenever the door was opened. Moreover, whenever the door did open or the bell rang there was a quick movement on the part of the janitor and of those members of the Ladies’ Aid Society who happened to be present to see who entered.
For on the previous day some one, taking advantage of the fact that the door latch was always out, had slipped into the janitor’s room in the basement and left in his bed a two weeks’ old boy baby. The janitor and l adies are glad that the baby came to the church, but do not wish, nevertheless, to establish such a precedent. Hence the new bell.
It was quite dark and the Ladies’ Aid Society had finished its meeting in the rear room of the basement when there came a squeak from the janitor’s room. The members of the society acted variously. The unmarried members got on chairs.
“It’s a mouse,” they said.
The married members listened attentively.
“It’s a baby,” they asserted.
Leaving the unmarried members still on their chairs, the married members hurried to the janitor’s room. On the bed was a little white bundle. As they drew near the little squeak was repeated.
One of the women more bold than her sisters went to the bed and threw back a blanket. A baby blinked up at her.
The question arose what was to be done with the infant.
“Notify the police,” said the janitor.
But word went about the room:
“It’s a Greek Church baby, and the Greek Church should take care of its own.”
So the police were not notified. Instead, one of the members of the society took the baby home. Yesterday the society was about to meet to discuss what was to be the ultimate disposition of the baby when a policeman arrived. The janitor, possibly not relishing the idea of a church baby, had telephoned to the East Sixty-seventh Street Station.
The baby was taken to Bellevue.
“But we want it here,” said the members of the Ladies’ Aid Society.
“You can claim it at Bellevue,” the policeman told them.
So the members of the society haven’t given up the idea of adopting the church baby. To-day there will be a special meeting of the society, when steps looking to its adoption will be taken.
If you’re anything like me, you want to know the rest of this story — what happened to the baby? Did one of the Greek women adopt him? How did his life turn out? I haven’t yet found any other articles on this story, but beyond the newspapers, an obvious place to look is in the baptismal records of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church (now Cathedral). Presumably, if the baby was adopted by one of the parishioners, he would have been baptized sometime between this May 1, 1908 newspaper article and the end of 1908. As I said earlier, if any of our readers can help solve this mystery, email me at mfnamee [at] gmail [dot] com.
Editor’s note: The following article was written by relatives of Fr. Pythagoras Caravellas, and originally appeared in the 60th anniversary commemorative album for Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in San Francisco, published in 1996. The article has been reprinted at Annunciation Cathedral’s website, and we present it here courtesy of the San Francisco Bay Area Greek Historical Society. The Society has done outstanding work on the history of Greek Orthodoxy in the region, and its chairman, Jim Lucas, is building a virtual photo album which may be found at this link. The website includes special pages for Fr. Pythagoras Caravellas and St. Sophia/Annunciation Cathedral, where he served as a priest.
We originally ran this article here at OrthodoxHistory.org on August 9, 2010. However, today is the 77th anniversary of Fr. Pythagoras’ repose, and I thought it appropriate to reprint his biography.
Pythagoras Caravellas was born in 1890, in Greece, on the small island of Samos, off the coast of Asia Minor. He was the son of a tobacco and cotton merchant and the youngest of four children.
At the age of 16, he completed his pre-university education at the gymnasium in Karlovassi. His schoolmasters, impressed with the young man’s curiousity and studious inclinations, recommended him for further study at one of the Greek teaching monasteries.
The year that young Pythagoras was cloistered in the mountain monastery, he applied himself diligently to the assigned subjects, religion, science, and the humanities. Perhaps it was the humility with which the monks imparted their wisdom to the young scholars that influenced young Pythagoras to cherish learning. This inspiration was to follow him always.
While under the tutelage of the monks, the Metropolitan of Corfu, Alexander, paid a visit to the monastery. The hierarchy of the Greek Orthodox faith had always taken a personal interest in the education and development of their youth. Alexander was not an exception. A man of deep perception, he was to become the first Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church. If his visits to the monasteries were anticipated by the students, a few requested were granted private audiences. The topics that generated the most interest were students’ personal aspirations.
During one of his private conversations with the Metropolitan whom he had known since childhood, Pythagoras confessed his secret hope to continue his education in the United States and perhaps establish a permanent home there. Expecting a small admonishment or to be dissuaded from his ambition, Pythagoras was pleased with the unexpected approval his received. The full impact of this meeting was not to emerge for twelve years, but its immediate result was that Pythagoras entered the Seminary in Athens to study for the priesthood. After a year, he was uncertain as to the wisdom of his action and decided to enroll in the University of Athens.
During the next four years he earned his degree and received his teaching credentials. While attending the university, he made occasional visits to his family in Samos. He also found time to tutor students, work for a tobacconist and take additional courses in English.
In 1911, he made his big decision to go to the United States. He went to Middleboro, Massachusetts, where a small colony of Greeks had settled, to live with his two brothers, Nicholas and Theodore, who had immigrated there two years before. Convinced that their brother was not interested in their restaurant business, they encouraged him to enter Harvard University with an offer to help him financially.
Before leaving Greece, Pythagoras had already decided to become a physician. Realizing how many long years of study lay ahead, he preferred not to accept his brothers’ generous offer. He considered ways in which he would attend school, allow time for studies, and still be able to earn an adequate income necessary for his tuition and living expenses. He would rely on his knowledge of small business accounting to earn his living and soon had a number of shopkeepers and restaurants as clients.
After graduation from Harvard with a degree in medicine in June, 1917, he became engaged to Evangeline Constantine. They were married in November, 1917. His work as a hospital intern offered some degree of fulfillment, but he was restless.
Recalling his year at the monastery and his communications with Archbishop Alexander, Pythagoras sent a letter to the Metropolitan asking for his guidance. The sincere simplicity of the Archbishop’s reply and his words of encouragement to enter the church convinced Pythagoras to give up medicine and to complete his studies in the priesthood.
Through further correspondence with the Metropolitan, Pythagoras learned of the need for Greek priests in the western part of the United States. As waves of Greek immigrants moved westward across the United States, they were dependent upon a small group of itinerant Greek priests for infrequent church services and the administration of religious rites. More Greeks lived and worked in the western states than the number of churches would suggest.
In 1921, Father Pythagoras arrived in San Francisco. At this time, his wife and daughter Theofani (Faye) were living in Chicago and it would be months later before he had the money to bring them to San Francisco. Once more the question of earning a livlihood and attending school was of immediate concern. Through letters of introduction and recommendation, Pythagoras became an assistant professor of Greek at the University of California, and attended the Pacific School of Religion. He supplemented his income writing for the Greek newspaper and the Christian Science Monitor. Soon, Pythagoras and Evangeline became an integral part of the young Greek community. Their resourcefulness and command of English, attracted the older families. They were often called upon to act as witnesses or interpreters in matters concerning immigration or in matters of law affecting members of the community. The more affluent Greeks were enthusiastic with the qualifications of the young couple and gave their wholehearted support for the erection of a church which would have Pythagoras as its priest.
After his graduation from the Pacific School of Religion in 1927, Pythagoras was ordained into the priesthood of the Greek Orthodox religion by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Metaxakis, and Archbishop Alexander, both of who were visiting in San Francisco at the time. The colorful ceremony was held in the new, small white church of St. Sophia. The presence of these eminent prelates in San Francisco created much interest and served to establish the young church of St. Sophia as a unified and integrated religious community.
With the advent of the Russian revolution, the organizational work of the Russian Orthodox Church in America came to an abrupt halt. In the meantime, the royalist-liberal controversy in Greece had divided event the Greek immigrants in America. The church could nor or would not steer a neutral course in the civil war raging between the forces of King Constantine and Premier Venizelos. This partnership, which had its beginnings in 1916, was to shake the church communities of Greece and United States to their foundation. The reaction in the United States was violent.
Reorganization required a degree of cooperation difficult to obtain. Nevertheless, Father Pythagoras managed to steer his congregation away from the repercussions of the political battles in Greece and toward the establishment of a Greek-American community whose growth would be a blending of the cultural heritage of Greece and the democratic principles of their adopted country, America.
Since coming to San Francisco, Father Pythagoras’ family increased by two daughters, Helen and Joan. After his ordination, Father Pythagoras budgeted his family severely. Occasionally, his small salary was supplemented by farmers; gifts of produce, fruit, and fowl. His parish was a poor one, and living became more difficult during the depression when members of his congregation dwelt on the edge of poverty. He administered to their needs, with words of encouragement and guidance. He would officiate at services during his frequent visits to farming communities. He taught the children of the community Greek after their regular school hours. He found time to program social activities for the community in observation of national and religious holidays. He made his rounds at the hospitals giving communion to the sick, the injured, and the dying. He conducted services every Sunday, every Holy Day and in the Greek church this alone is a rigorous and demanding schedule.
In 1931, the physical strain had taken its toll. Father Pythagoras was will with tuberculosis. He was a patient for three years at the California Sanitorium in Belmont. During his confinement, he continued to read avidly and began work for his degree as a Doctor of Divinity. He looked forward to returning to his church and his congregation. In late 1934, the doctors told him that he was cured and that he would soon be going home. On December 6, 1934, he suffered a heart attack and died. He was mourned by Greeks throughout the nation and his body lay in state in the church of St. Sophia for 7 days to afford his many friends the sad privilege of a final farewell.
Yesterday, I published a brief article on Fr. Stephen Andreades, the first resident priest of the first Orthodox parish in the contiguous United States — Holy Trinity in New Orleans. The entire early history of that parish is something of a mystery. We know who the early priests were — Andreades, Fr. Gregory Yiayias, Fr. Misael Karydis — but we don’t know much about them, and we don’t have a clear understanding of the early life of that parish. The hints that we do have are tantalizing. For instance, Holy Trinity used an organ decades before any other American Orthodox church is known to have added one. But we don’t know the story behind it.
Anyway, all this got me to thinking about some of the toughest cases to crack in my research into American Orthodox history. I’ll run through some of them today.
The Ludwell-Paradise story
This is really Nicholas Chapman’s turf, and it’s just loaded with great mysteries. Among them:
- How exactly did a young Philip Ludwell III decide to convert to Orthodoxy?
- What was his family’s connection to the Orthodox Church prior to his conversion?
- Were there any other Orthodox converts in colonial Virginia, aside from the Ludwell family?
- How long did Ludwell’s descendants remain Orthodox?
- What — if any — connection existed between the Ludwell-Paradise family, the New Smyrna colony, and the Russian mission to Alaska?
St. Peter the Aleut
Did he exist? If so, was he martyred? If not, how and why did the story of his martyrdom develop? We’re making progress on this front, but the critical questions remain unanswered. The frustrating thing is that I know that the Russian government contacted the Spanish government about this at the time, and the Spanish did an investigation, and there are records of this investigation in Madrid. But I can’t get anyone there to get back to me.
The aborted New York church of 1850
The January 1850 issue of the Home and Foreign Record of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America reported this:
Efforts are now making in New York to form a congregation of Greek Christians. We observe an announcement that a priest of that denomination, with an interpreter, is now in New York, and will doubtless take charge of the movement.
But the first documented Orthodox congregation in New York wasn’t organized until Fr. Nicholas Bjerring arrived in 1870 — 20 years later. So what was going on in 1850? I haven’t found any other traces of this story.
The phantom Galveston parish of the 1860s
Lots and lots of secondary sources refer to a very early Orthodox parish in Galveston, Texas. This parish was supposedly formed in the 1860s and used the name “Ss. Constantine and Helen.” But the earliest traces I’ve found of organized Orthodoxy in Galveston are from the mid-1890s, when Fr. Theoclitos Triantafilides founded a parish of the same name, which still exists. In fact, according to Triantafilides’ biography by Milivoy Jovan Milosevich, Triantafilides intentionally revived the old parish name. From the bio:
It is known that with the outset of the American Civil War, a group of multi-ethnic Orthodox Christians were having regular prayer meetings in Galveston, as early as 1861, and they called themselves “the Parish of S.S. Constantine and Helen.” [...] [I]t was Arch. Fr. Theoclitos’ decision to use the name S. S. Constantine and Helen Church, because the congregation that started on its own should be remembered.
But was this “congregation” a full-fledged parish, as some have suggested? Was it simply a group of Orthodox laypeople gathering for reader’s services? Was it somehow connected to the New Orleans parish — perhaps the earliest “mission” community (as we now commonly use the term) in the contiguous United States? We just don’t know.
Another tantalizing piece of information: at exactly the time when this congregation was supposedly formed, the descendants of Philip Ludwell III were living in Galveston. Were they still Orthodox? And were they connected to this “parish”?
The mysterious death of Fr. Paul Kedrolivansky
We’ve covered this one before: Kedrolivansky, the dean of the Russian cathedral in San Francisco, died under suspicious circumstances in 1878. I’m pretty sure that Kedrolivansky was murdered, but I don’t know by whom. Was it his rival priest, Fr. Nicholas Kovrigin? Gustave Niebaum and the powerful Alaska Commercial Company? A “nihilist,” as some later speculated? We don’t know, and this is a mystery that will probably never be solved.
The Kodiak Bell
The bell from the first Orthodox church in the New World — Holy Resurrection in Kodiak, AK — currently hangs in a Roman Catholic church in California. And nobody really knows how it got there.
Fr. Raphael Morgan
For a long time, all we knew for sure was that the first black Orthodox priest in America was alive in 1916, and disappeared from the historical record afterwards. Now, we can say with confidence that he was dead by 1924. But 1916-1924 is a pretty big range, and we still don’t know how and where he died, where he’s buried, and whether he remained Orthodox until the end.
This little run-down is just the tip of the iceberg as far as American Orthodox historical mysteries go. If you have any insight into these conundrums, shoot me an email at mfnamee [at] gmail [dot] com.
This article was written by Matthew Namee.
In the past (for instance, here), I’ve referred to a Fr. Stephen Andreades, who, in 1867, was the priest of Holy Trinity parish in New Orleans. He was one of the first Orthodox priests in the contiguous United States, but we know virtually nothing about him. In fact, until now, the only source I had for Andreades was the following note in a 1967 St. Vladimir’s Quarterly article by Fr. Alexander Doumouras:
The priest who succeeded Fr. Agapius [Honcharenko] in New Orleans was an archimandrite named Fr. Stephen Andreades. One of his sermons, which was delivered on December 15, 1867, was translated into Russian by Thomas Kraskovsky and printed in the Alaska Herald on March 15, 1868. In this sermon Fr. Andreades stated that he had been “invited from Greece” to come to America and serve the parish in New Orleans. He did not state who invited him and who appointed him.
I’ve never seen the original Alaska Herald source, and while we could state pretty confidently that Andreades was the first Greek Orthodox priest in America — and the first pastor of the New Orleans parish, given that Honcharenko was never actually the resident priest — we didn’t know anything else.
We still don’t know much, but on Google Books, I found this note from Understanding the Greek Orthodox Church by Demetrios J. Constantelos (1982):
In 1867 the congregation moved to its permanent church and appointed its first regular priest, Stephen Andreades, who had been invited from Greece. He had a successful ministry from 1867 to 1875, when the archimandrite Gregory Yiayias arrived to replace him. The New Orleans congregation also acquired its own parish house; a small library, which included books in Greek, Latin…
And of course, this being just the “snippet view” of Google Books, I can’t get any more information.
My own research conflicts somewhat with Constantelos’ information. He has Andreades in New Orleans from 1867-75, followed by Fr. Gregory Yiayias. However, I found a reference to Yiayias in New Orleans in the September 13, 1872 issue of the Petersburg Index, a Virginia newspaper. Also, Henry Rightor’s Standard History of New Orleans, Louisiana (1900) puts Yiayias’ tenure at 1872-74.
So we’ve got two sources — one of them contemporary — which put Yiayias, and not Andreades, in New Orleans in 1872. Which makes me wonder where Constantelos got his dates. Obviously, I need to look at Constantelos’ actual book, rather than a Google snippet view.
The early history of the New Orleans parish remains shrouded in mystery. We know the names of some of the priests — Andreades, Yiayias, and the strange Fr. Misael Karydis — but we don’t know much about them, or their relationship to the church hierarchy. If anyone has more information, please let me know.
This article was written by Matthew Namee.
I’ve got several new articles in the works, but law school has been brutal lately, so I haven’t been able to finish any of them. In the meantime, I thought I’d republish one of my old articles. This one was originally published on June 1, 2010.
Fr. Philip Sredanovich is one of the odder characters in American Orthodox history. Perhaps not as odd as the embellishing Agapius Honcharenko or the wandering Bulgarian Monk, but in all my studies, I’ve run across few parish priests stranger than Sredanovich.
Sredanovich was born in Montenegro in 1881. I read somewhere that he was educated in Russia, although I can’t seem to track down the precise source at the moment. (This is supported by the 1920 US Census, which says that Sredanovich’s wife was born in Russia.) He came to the US just after the turn of the 20th century; by 1906, he was pastor of St. Nicholas Serbian Church in Wilmerding, PA. A couple of years later, while serving in Butler, PA, he made his first newspaper headlines. From the Washington Post (12/11/1908):
The Rev. Philip Sredanovitch, pastor of the Greek Orthodox Church and editor of Justness, today announced a discovery, which, if it works out, will put Newton, Franklin, and Edison in the amateur class. The pastor-editor declares that he has invented a means by which the rotation of the earth on its axis may be taken advantage of in travel, and that by standing still one may go around the world in 24 hours.
He says he has found a way by which men may lift themselves above the earth to a point where they will stand still while the earth, rotating from west to east, will do their traveling for them. The secret is jealously guarded by the pastor and his wife, whom he credits with suggesting the idea. He asks $100,000 for the invention.
Sredanovich says: “We will hoist ourselves above the earth and await the coming of the desired place, then we will lower ourselves where we desire to be. In this way we may go from America to Europe in less than eighteen hours. My secret is how to stand above the earth and not be affected by the earth’s attraction.”
He says his invention makes it possible to get away from gravitation and still not be lose [sic] in space.
He does not say how one may get away from the swirling earth and take his stand in the ethereal world, but any one with $100,000 may find out. So far as is known, the pastor has invented no airships nor announced any scheme for climbing a sunbeam.
This has to be a joke, right? An educated clergyman couldn’t seriously think that you could circle the globe simply by “hoisting” yourself above the earth — could he?
Moving on… Sredanovich bounced around a lot. Here is an incomplete list of the places he served:
- Wilmerding, PA
- Butler, PA
- Kansas City, MO
- South Bend, IN
- Gary, IN
- Kansas City, MO (again)
- Butte, MT
- Milwaukee, WI
- Steelton, PA
- Johnstown, PA
- Butte, MT (again)
Of course, in Sredanovich’s day, it was quite common for priests to spend just a couple of years (or less) at one parish before moving on to the next. But Sredanovich’s travels seem to have been caused as much by his own personality as by the era in which he lived. In November 1920, he was “fired” from his post in Kansas City, responded with four successive lawsuits in the span of three months. In one suit, he asked for $25,000, charging that “church officials were instrumental in causing slanderous remarks to be printed against him” in a Serbian newspaper. A few days later, he filed another lawsuit, this time merely seeking $120 in back pay. (I don’t know the outcomes of these cases; my only source is the Kansas City Times, 1/25/1921.)
After leaving Kansas City, Sredanovich went to Butte, Montana, where he took over Holy Trinity Serbian Church. One day, in November of 1922, he was walking down the street when a group of teenage boys started to bother him. One picked up a rock, at which point Sredanovich took off for his house. He went inside, got his pistol, and returned to the street. The youths continued to taunt Sredanovich, who responded by shooting one of the boys in the foot. The injured 18-year-old was taken to the hospital, and Sredanovich was arrested and charged with second-degree assault. (Idaho Daily Statesman, 11/30/1922)
Sredanovich soon left Butte, but he returned to the parish in 1949, spending the last three years of his life there. He died in 1952, and is buried at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Monastery in Libertyville, Illinois.
This article was written by Matthew Namee.