Posts tagged Raphael Hawaweeny
Today being the ninety-eighth anniversary of the repose of St. Raphael of Brooklyn (+1915), here is a pastoral letter he sent out in 1912 regarding relations with the Episcopal Church, mostly likely written on his behalf by Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine. Thanks to Fr. Joseph Huneycutt of Houston for posting it today.
To My Beloved Clergy and Laity of the Syrian Greek-Orthodox Catholic Church in North America:
Greetings in Christ Jesus, Our Incarnate Lord and God.
My Beloved Brethren:
Two years ago, while I was a Vice-President and member of the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union, being moved with compassion for my children in the Holy Orthodox faith “once and for all delivered to the Saints” (St Jude ver. 3), scattered throughout the whole of North America and deprived of the ministrations of the Church; and especially in places far removed from Orthodox centres; and being equally moved with a feeling that the Protestant Episcopal (Anglican) Church possessed largely the Orthodox faith, as many prominent clergy professed the same to me before I studied deeply their doctrinal authorities and their liturgy — the “Book of Common Prayer” — I wrote a letter as the Bishop and Head of the Syrian Catholic Mission in North America, giving permission, in which I said that in extreme cases, where no Orthodox priest could be called upon at short notice, the ministrations of the Protestant Episcopal (Anglican) clergy might be kindly asked. However, I was most explicit in defining when and how the ministrations should be accepted, and also what exceptions should be made. In writing that letter I hoped, on the one hand, to help my people spiritually, and, on the other hand, to open the way toward bringing the Anglicans into the communion of the Holy Orthodox faith.
On hearing and in reading that my letter, perhaps unintentionally, was misconstrued by some of the Episcopalian (Anglican) Clergy, I wrote a second letter in which I pointed out that my instructions and exceptions had been either overlooked or ignored by many, to wit:
(a) They (the Episcopalians) informed the Orthodox people that I recognized the Anglican Communion (Protestant Episcopal Church) as being united with the Holy Orthodox Church and their ministry, that is holy orders, as valid.
(b) The Episcopal (Anglican) Clergy offered their ministrations even when my Orthodox clergy were residing in the same towns and parishes, as pastors. And,
(c) Protestant Episcopal clergy said there was no need of Orthodox people seeking the ministrations of their own Orthodox priests, for their (the Anglican) ministrations were all that were necessary.
I, therefore, felt bound by all the circumstances to make a thorough study of the Anglican Church’s faith and orders as well as of her discipline and ritual. After serious consideration I realized that it was my honest duty, as a member of the College of Bishops of the Holy Orthodox Greek Apostolic Church, and Head of the Syrian Mission in North America, to resign from the vice-presidency of and membership in the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union. At the same time, I set forth, in my letter of resignation, my reason for so doing.
I am convinced that the doctrinal teaching and practices as well as the discipline of the whole Anglican Church are unacceptable to the Holy Orthodox Church. I make this apology for the Anglicans whom as Christian gentlemen I greatly revere, that the loose teaching of a great many of the prominent Anglican theologians are so hazy in their definition of truths, and so inclined toward pet heresies that it is hard to tell what they believe. The Anglican Church as a whole has not spoken authoritatively on her doctrine. Her Catholic minded members can call out her doctrines from many views, but so nebulistic is her pathway in the doctrinal world that those who would extend a hand of both Christian and ecclesiastical fellowship dare not, without distrust, grasp the hand of her theologians, for while many are orthodox on some points, they are quite heterodox on others. I speak, of course, from the Holy Orthodox Eastern Catholic point of view. The Holy Orthodox Church has never perceptibly changed from Apostolic times, and, therefore, no one can go astray in finding out what she teaches. Like her Lord and Master, though at times surrounded with human malaria — which He in mercy pardons — she is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 8:8) … the mother and safe deposit of “the truth as it is in Jesus” (Eph.4:21).
The Orthodox Church differs absolutely with the Anglican Communion in reference to the number of Sacraments and in reference to the doctrinal explanation of the same. The Anglicans say in their Catechism concerning the Sacraments that there are “two only as generally necessary to salvation, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord.” I am well aware that, in their two books of homilies (which are not of a binding authority, for the books were prepared only in the reign of Edward VI and Queen Elizabeth for priests who were not permitted to preach their own sermons in England during times both politically and ecclesiastically perilous), it says that there are “five others commonly called Sacraments” (see homily in each book on the Sacraments), but long since they have repudiated in different portions of their Communion this very teaching and absolutely disavow such definitions in their “Articles of Religion” which are bound up in their Book of Common Prayer or Liturgy as one of their authorities.
The Orthodox Church has ever taught that there are seven Sacraments. She plainly points out the fact that each of the seven has an outward and visible sign and an inward and spiritual Grace, and that they are of gospel and apostolic origin.
Again, the Orthodox Church has certain rites and practices associated and necessary in the administration of
the Sacraments which neither time nor circumstances must set aside where churches are organized. Yet the Anglicans entirely neglect these, though they once taught and practiced the same in more catholic days.
In the case of the administration of Holy Baptism it is the absolute rule of the Orthodox Church that
the candidate must be immersed three times (once in the name of each Person of the Holy Trinity). Immersion is only permissory in the Anglican Communion, and pouring or sprinkling is the general custom. The Anglicans do not use holy oil in the administration, etc., and even in doctrinal teaching in reference to this Sacrament they differ.
As to the doctrine concerning Holy Communion the Anglican Communion has no settled view. The Orthodox Church teaches the doctrine of transubstantiation without going into any scientific or Roman Catholic explanation. The technical word which She uses for the sublime act of the priest by Christ’s authority to consecrate is “transmuting” (Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom). She, as I have said, offers no explanation, but She believes and confesses that Christ, the Son of the living God Who came into the world to save sinners, is of a truth in His “all-pure Body” and “precious Blood” (Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom) objectively present, and to be worshiped in that Sacrament as He was on earth and is now in risen and glorified majesty in Heaven; and that “the precious and holy and life-giving Body and Blood of Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ are imparted” (to each soul that comes to that blessed Sacrament) “Unto the
remission of sins, and unto life everlasting” (Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom).
Confirmation or the laying on of hands, which the Orthodox Church calls a sacrament—”Chrismation”—in the Anglican Church is merely the laying on of hands of the Bishop accompanied by a set form of prayers, without the use of Holy Chrism, which has come down from Apostolic days as necessary.
Holy Matrimony is regarded by the Anglican Communion as only a sacred rite which, even if performed by a
Justice of the Peace, is regarded as sufficient in the sight of God and man.
Penance is practiced but rarely in the Anglican Communion, and Confession before the reception of Holy Communion is not compulsory. They have altogether set aside the Sacrament of Holy Unction, that is anointing the sick as commanded by Saint James (see James 5:14). In their priesthood they do not teach the
true doctrine of the Grace of the Holy Orders. Indeed they have two forms of words for ordination, namely, one which gives the power of absolution to the priest, and the alternative form without the words of Our Lord, whosoever sins ye remit, etc. (John 20: 23). Thus they leave every bishop to choose intention or non-intention in the act of ordination as to the power and Grace of their priesthood (“Ordination of Priests,” Book of Common Prayer).
But, besides all of this, the Anglican Communion ignores the Orthodox Church’s dogmas and teachings, such as the invocation of saints, prayers for the dead, special honor to the blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of God, and reverence for sacred relics, holy pictures and icons. They say of such teaching that it is “a foul thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the word of God” (Article of Religion, XXII).
There is a striking variance between their wording of the Nicene Creed and that of the Holy Orthodox Church;
but sadder still, it contains the heresy of the “filioque.”
I do not deem it necessary to mention all the striking differences between the Holy Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion in reference to the authority of holy tradition, the number of the General Councils, etc. Sufficient has already been said and pointed out to show that the Anglican Communion differs but little from all other Protestant bodies, and, therefore, there cannot be any intercommunion until she returns to the ancient holy Orthodox Faith and practices, and rejects Protestant omissions and commissions.
Therefore, as the official head of the Syrian Holy Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Church in North America and as one who must “give an account” (Hebrews 13:17) before the judgment throne of the “Shepherd and Bishop of Souls” (1 Peter 2:25), that I have fed the “flock of God” (1 Peter 5:2), as I have been commissioned by the Holy Orthodox Church, and inasmuch as the Anglican Communion (Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States) does not differ in things vital to the well being of the Holy Orthodox Church from some of the most arrant Protestant sects, I direct all Orthodox people residing in any community not to seek or to accept the ministrations of the Sacraments and rites from any clergy excepting those of the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church, for the Apostolic command, that the Orthodox should not commune in ecclesiastical matters with those who are not of “the same household of Faith” (Galatians 6:10), is clear: “Any Bishop; or presbyter or deacon who will pray with heretics, let him be anathematized; and if he allows them as clergymen to perform any service, let him be deposed” (Apostolic Canon 45). “Any bishop, or presbyter, who accepts baptism or the Holy Sacrifice from heretics, we order such to be deposed, for ‘what concord hath Christ with Belial, or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?’” (Apostolic Canon 46).
As to members of the Holy Orthodox Church living in districts beyond the reach of Orthodox Catholic clergy, I direct that the ancient custom of our Holy Church be observed, namely, in cases of extreme necessity, that is, danger of death, children may be baptized by some pious Orthodox layman, or even by the parent of the child, by immersion three times in the names of the (persons of the) Blessed Trinity, and in case of death such baptism is valid: — but, if the child should live, it must be brought to an Orthodox priest for the Sacrament of Chrismation.
In the case of the death of an Orthodox person where no priest of the Holy Orthodox Church can be had, a pious layman may read over the corpse, for the comfort of the relatives and the instruction of the persons present, Psalm 91 and Psalm 118, and add thereto the Trisagion (“Holy God, Holy Strong One,” etc). But be it noted that so soon as possible the relative must notify some Orthodox bishop or priest and request him to say the Liturgy and Requiem for the repose of the soul of the departed in his Cathedral or parish Church.
As to Holy Matrimony, if there be any parties united in wedlock outside the pale of the holy Orthodox Church because of the remoteness of Orthodox centers from their home, I direct that as soon as possible they either invite an Orthodox priest or go to where he resides and receive from his hands the holy Sacrament of Matrimony; otherwise they will be considered excommunicated until they submit unto the Orthodox Church’s rule.
I further direct that Orthodox Christians should not make it a practice to attend the services of other religious bodies, so that there be no confusion as to the teaching or doctrines. Instead, I order that the head of each household, or a member, may read the special prayers which can be found in the hours of the Holy Orthodox Service Book, and such other devotional books as have been set forth by the authority of the Holy Orthodox Church.
Commending our clergy and laity unto the safe-keeping of Jesus Christ, and praying that the Holy Spirit may keep us all in the truth and extend the Borders of the Holy Orthodox Faith, I remain.
Your affectionate Servant in Christ,
Bishop of Brooklyn, Head of the Syrian
Greek Orthodox Catholic Mission in America
Issued late in the year 1912; from The Most Useful KNOWLEDGE for the Orthodox Russian-American Young People, compiled by the Very Rev’d Peter G. Kohanik, 1932-1934 (pp. 297-303).
(An earlier version of this post was published in 2010.)
108 years ago this week, in 1904, St. Raphael Hawaweeny, the Syro-Arab Bishop of Brooklyn, officiated at a wedding in St. Louis. The English bride and Arab groom had a rather romantic backstory, and the wedding took place at the imitation Holy Sepulchre in the “Jerusalem” exhibit at the St. Louis World’s Fair. The newspaper article below appeared in the Bellingham (Wash.) Herald (10/1/1904). After the article, I’ll offer some additional information and commentary.
It was a great event, this marriage of a fair haired English girl and dark-skinned Syrian. In Jerusalem at the World’s Fair every one was in gala attire. There was a sea of [...] color. The Turk, resplendent in flowing silken robes with red tarbouche on head; the Syrian, in gold broidered jacket and trousers of ample proportions; the solemn-visaged Jew and the white-burnoused Arab sheik from the Saharan desert, were assembled to do the couple honor.
The wedding was the culmination of a romantic courtship which was not without its thorny side. The bride, Miss Ethel Thomas of Hanley York, England, met the hero of the romance while a tourist in the Holy Land. Under the warm skies of Palestine their love grew apace, and while the intelligent dragoman waxed eloquent over many a hoary rum his glances were all for the pretty English girl. The other members of the party decided that the attentions of the swarthy guide were too pointed and demanded his removal. Whether it was pity engendered by his dismissal or real affection, the spirited girl determined to leave the party. She joined another, always with the faithful Najib Ghazal as the dragoman. When the tour was over, Miss Thomas returned to the bosom of her family. Her swarthy adorer quickly followed and asked the father of the damsel for her hand. This was refused, and the family offered violent opposition. Mr. Ghazal was under contract to appear as a guide in Jerusalem at the World’s Fair, and was forced to sail without his bride to be. Finally the matter was adjusted, and Miss Thomas sailed to New York, where she was met by her faithful lover. He saw Archbishop Hawawini of Brooklyn, the high primate of the Greek church in the United States, who consented to come to St. Louis in order to unite the pair. The ceremony was inaugurated with all of the state incident to the Greek ritual. The marriage took place in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The bride and her only bridesmaid or shabinat, were attired in white. The bride, with a hat instead of the conventional bridal veil, led the procession, the groom and groomsmen, or shabins, following. In the regular Syrian service it is the custom for the groomsmen to carry the groom, holding him high above the bride during the ceremony. This is to signify the lower position of the wife in the household, for in Oriental countries she is quite a subordinate being. The air was redolent with the perfume of flowers, the air was heavy with aromatic incense, the guests held painted and blessed wax candles, the lights dancing like ingnus fatui in the semi-gloom of the church. These holy tapers are preserved as mementoes. The bride and groom also held two artistically ornamented candles. During the ceremony the priest asks the couple all sorts of trying questions, as for instance, he demands of the bride whether she will promise to bear every vicissitude with loving patience and be ever faithful to her lord and master. He asks the groom whether he will provide a comfortable home and always be kind to his wife. Of course, they signify their consent. There is much chanting during the service, accompanied with profound genuflexions. It is in Arabic. Long and tedious but of picturesque grandeur is the Greek wedding ritual. The priest places upon the fingers of the couple two silver rings linked together with a slender chain, emblematic of their eternal union. The chain is then severed and the golden wedding ring placed upon the fingers of both. Still kneeling the couple drink holy wine from the same cup and partake of the sacrificial bread. This is to signify the union of the blood of life, the bread typifies the flesh. Lastly a cup of water is drunk, which is emblematic of the washing away of all impurity.
When the bridal party emerged from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a silver clarinet played a triumphal bridal march. The newly married pair threw nickels and bon bons to the crowd who scrambled for the largess.
Before entering her home provided for her the bride flings a piece of dough upon the portal. If it sticks it is regarded as a happy omen, but if it does not dire misfortune is predicted by the wise women.
Mr. and Mrs. Najib Ghazal will remain in St. Louis until the conclusion of the exposition, as Mr. Ghazal is employed as a dragoman in Jerusalem.
The betrothal of a Syrian couple is entirely the affair of the parents, the prospective bride and groom having nothing whatever to do with it. It is not even considered good form for the young man to see the face of the young woman. He must be content with the description of his mother or the professional matchmaker. What a number of disappointments there must be in store. The burden of providing a trousseau for the bride rests upon the groom. Even though he belongs to the middle class and is not the possessor of great wealth, he must send not less than twenty silk dresses to his bride, also ten gold or silver necklaces, diamond earrings and brooches. This is a provident proceeding, for the groom if disenchanted may abandon the bride the next day; in this case he leaves her well provided with the wherewithal to entrap another husband. The bride must always be subject to her mother-in-law, as it is the Syrian custom not to provide a separate home. This is a survival of patriarchal or rather matriarchal domination which prevails in most Oriental nations.
Prior to the marriage ceremony the friends of the groom take him to the nearest bath house and scrub him thoroughly, the prospective bridesmaids doing the same for the bride. Instead of the butter knives, pickle dishes and assortment of heterogeneous objects presented to the American bride, relatives and friends send offering[s] of money. This is in reality money loaned without interest, as the exact sums must be returned to each donor upon their marriage. Every guest proffers two cakes of soap, and when the pair have a number of relatives and friends, there is often sufficient soap to last a lifetime.
This article’s description of the Orthodox wedding is… well, curious. I am by no means an expert on Orthodox wedding practices, but I am an Arab Orthodox Christian myself, and I was married a traditional Orthodox ceremony in the Antiochian Archdiocese. I’ve attended numerous other Orthodox weddings — all here in the United States, which does limit my exposure, but still — and I’ve never heard of a groom being hoisted into the air by groomsmen during the wedding service. It’s also not clear what, exactly this St. Louis couple consumed. My wife and I partook of wine in the “common cup.” In the distant past, I understand that the Eucharist itself was used. But this St. Louis couple apparently was given, separately, wine, bread, and water. And then there are the questions — the wife was asked whether she would “be ever faithful to her lord and master,” and the husband whether he would “provide a comfortable home,” etc. But in my experience, the husband and wife are only asked one question apiece — whether they have come with a “free and unconstrained will” to be joined to the other person. If any of our readers have insight into what was going on at this St. Louis wedding, please let me know.
(A thought just occurred to me: maybe the author of this article mistakenly attended some other wedding, rather than the Orthodox one. Does the description sound like a ceremony any of you recognize? Or, I guess, the author could have not attended the wedding at all, and made up the details. After all, this article appeared in a Washington newspaper, half a country away, just one day after the event. But… I don’t know. What do you think?)
Anyway, I did some further digging to learn more about Najib Ghazal and Ethel Thomas. Najib arrived at Ellis Island on May 1, 1904, having sailed from Liverpool aboard the Lucania. He is listed on the ship manifest as “Nagib E. Ghazal,” a single 30-year-old Syrian. His reported residence is London. Ethel was about 22 at the time of her wedding. After the World’s Fair, they remained in the United States; presumably, both became naturalized US citizens. They moved around quite a bit — the US Censuses have them in Brooklyn in 1910, San Francisco in 1920, and Detroit in 1930. I can’t find either Najib or Ethel in the 1940 Census, so they might have died by then. As best I can tell, the couple had one child, George, who lived from 1906 to 1984. A quick Google search turns up several Ghazals in Detroit, and these may be the descendants of Najib and Ethel.
If anyone out there has more information, please let us know.
St Raphael Hawaweeny was a native of Lebanon, who in 1904 became the first Orthodox bishop ordained in the new world. As Bishop of Brooklyn he had oversight over the Syro-Lebanese communities that were beginning to appear in the Americas in the early twentieth century and he worked tirelessly for their growth and consolidation. It has been noted previously by Matthew Namee on this web site that during the years of St Raphael’s ministry until his repose in 1915 there was a dramatic increase in the extent and use of the English language in the liturgical life of these communities.
Last year, whilst I was researching in the National Archives in London, England, I discovered a document that shows that St Raphael’s missionary concerns extended beyond English to the Spanish language. The document I found was a letter (written in Russian) in 1912 from St Raphael to Fr. Eugene Smirnov, the priest of the Russian Embassy church in London. By way of background it should be mentioned that Fr. Eugene had briefly served as a reader at the Russian Orthodox parish in New York in the early 1870’s under Fr Nicholas Bjerring. Fr Eugene maintained an active interest in Orthodox missionary work throughout his life and in particular facilitated considerable support for the development of the church in America by way of both material and financial assistance.
The letter, which is translated in full below, is evidence of the expansive missionary vision of both St Raphael and Fr. Eugene. I am indebted to Dr. Karina Ross of St George Antiochian Orthodox George in Utica for its translation:
Esteemed Father Protopriest!
The box with five hundred copies of St. John’s Liturgy in the Spanish language that you promised to me in your letter from Feb. 13th / 26th of the current year was conveyed to me yesterday from the Russian Cathedral in New York.
I humbly request you to notify of this the deeply respected – apostles of Orthodoxy in the twentieth century in the heterodox West – splendid general V. Vich(?)-Perez and remarkable warrior of Christ G. A. K (can’t make out the surname), (the life and the conversion to Orthodoxy of the former through the latter, your spiritual son, I described in great detail from its account in “Church News” in my Arabic spiritual publication “Al-Khalimat” (“The Word”) last year), and also to let them know of my deepest gratitude and prayerful blessing.
I intend to send out these copies to our Orthodox Syrian Arabs who are living in Spanish language countries in Northern and Central America, in hope that this very beneficial book with (?) mercy will be of great use for the support of Orthodoxy and, quite likely, for its proliferation among Spanish speakers. Let the Lord of Hosts support all those who labour in Christ’s vineyard.
I sincerely thank you, esteemed Father Protopriest, for the love that you have shown me and for your trust in my unworthiness, with deep reverence and sincere gratitude, yours truly.
Perpetually praying for you to Lord Jesus, Raphael, Bishop of Brooklyn.
To His Blessedness
32 Welbeck St., London
It is my hope that a reader of this article might be able to find and translate the article of St Raphael in Al-Khalimat” (“The Word”) referred to in the letter so that we might learn the identity of the two Spanish language apostles of Orthodoxy in the twentieth century and thus place this document within the wider context in which it obviously belongs. I am not certain to what extent Spanish is currently employed liturgically in any of the Antiochian Orthodox parishes in the USA and whether any evidence exists of its earlier use that St Raphael clearly intended to promote through the distribution of this translation of the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.
Nicholas Chapman, Herkimer, NY, August 26, 2012
June 16, 1889: Deacon Raphael Hawaweeny was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Sylvester, rector of the Kiev Theological Academy. Deacon Raphael had come to the Kiev school a year earlier, and the plan was for him to study there and then return to Syria, where he would become the Russian-language secretary for the Patriarch of Antioch. Toward the end of the 1888-89 school year, however, the Patriarch appointed Deacon Raphael to be head of the Antiochian metochion (embassy church) in Moscow. The previous head of the metochion was Fr. Christopher Jabara, who had worn out his welcome because of his heretical theological views. And speaking of Jabara…
June 11, 1893: Fr. Christopher Jabara dedicated a chapel for the Syrians in New York City. After being ousted from his position in Moscow, Jabara falls off the radar for a few years before turning up in New York, on his way to the World’s Fair in Chicago. For the past year or so, the Arab Orthodox of New York had been attending the city’s new Greek church, and they were excited to see a priest who spoke their own language. They quickly established a chapel, and two Russian priests from visiting warships joined Jabara in the dedication. (Click here to read more about the chapel.)
Unfortunately, the chapel didn’t last long. At the “Parliament of Religions” held at the World’s Fair, Jabara promoted his idiosyncratic theology, arguing that Orthodoxy should abandon the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and unite with Islam. That pretty much killed any chance Jabara had of an Orthodox ministry in America, and the New York chapel seems to have died out. But two years later, the man who replaced Jabara at the Antiochian metochion in Moscow — Fr. Raphael Hawaweeny — himself arrived in America, inaugurating a 20-year ministry to the Arab Orthodox in the New World.
If you want to learn more about Fr. Christopher Jabara, check out this article from 2009.
June 17, 1893: Bishop Nicholas Ziorov blessed the Russian pavilion at the Chicago World’s Fair. The Fair was a tremendous event, and it had a lot of interesting Orthodox features.
June 11, 1983: Archbishop Nikon de Greve died. He was born in the Russian Empire in 1895 and served in the White Army during the Russian Civil War. Eventually, he ended up in Paris, where he studied at the famed St. Sergius Institute and became a hieromonk. He was serving at the Russian cathedral in Paris when the Nazi army took over the city during World War II, and when Archbishop Alexander Nemolovsky (by then the Archbishop of Brussels) was arrested by the Nazis, Nikon went to Brussels and administered the diocese in Alexander’s stead.
Nikon was consecrated a bishop for Belgium in 1946, and the next year, he sailed for America. He served as bishop of Philadelphia and later Toronto until 1959, when he became primate of the Church of Japan. After four years in Japan, Nikon returned to America. By this point, he was nearly seventy. He took the title “Archbishop of Brooklyn,” but wasn’t given a diocese to oversee. He died at the age of 88, and is buried at St. Tikhon’s Monastery.
June 12, 1995: Bishop Gerasimos Papadopoulos (Greek Archdiocese) died. Some have suggested that Bishop Gerasimos may be worthy of canonization.
June 17, 2007: Archbishop Kyrill Yonchev, longtime head of the Bulgarian Diocese of the OCA, died. Fr. Andrew Damick wrote about Archbishop Kyrill and his diocese a few years ago.
June 12, 2009: The Pan-Orthodox Conference at Chambesy, Switzerland, concluded. This meeting set the stage for Assemblies of Bishops to be created throughout the so-called diaspora, including North America.
April 3, 1904: On Palm Sunday, Fr. Nicola Yanney was ordained to the priesthood by St. Raphael Hawaweeny. Fr. Nicola was a young widower living in Kearney, Nebraska. His wife had died during childbirth in 1902, just days before her husband’s 29th birthday, leaving behind three other children. In August of 1903, the Syrian Orthodox of Kearney decided that they wanted a priest, and they asked the 30-year-old Nicola to take the position. The next year, he went to Brooklyn and studied under the soon-to-be Bishop Raphael. In March 1904, Raphael was consecrated, and a few weeks later, he ordained Fr. Nicola — the first ordination ever performed by St. Raphael. Fr. Nicola was given responsibility for a vast territory; in addition to his regular pastoral duties in Kearney, he visited seven other states in his first eight months on the job. His life was difficult and inspiring — far too much to summarize here. I highly recommend reading the biographical article on Fr. Nicola written by Fr. Paul Hodge and published here at OrthodoxHistory.org.
April 2, 1922: St. Raphael’s remains were interred at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Brooklyn. After his 1915 death, St. Raphael’s body had been placed in a crypt in his Brooklyn cathedral, but a few years later, his successor Bishop Aftimios Ofiesh decided to move the cathedral to a new building, and Raphael’s body was moved to the cemetery. Decades later, it was transferred to the Antiochian Village in Ligonier, PA.
April 2-4, 1924: [The following was written by Aram Sarkisian] The Russian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America convened in Detroit for the 4th All-American Sobor. The Sobor opened with a Presanctified Liturgy and Molieben at All Saints Russian Orthodox Church on the city’s east side, but for lack of space moved downtown to the parish house of St. John Episcopal Church for its plenary sessions.
The 4th All-American Sobor was convened for several reasons, much of it having to do with the general turmoil the Archdiocese had experienced in the wake of the Russian Revolutions of 1917. The most notable of its decisions is the oft-cited “Declaration of Autonomy,” in which the Archdiocese invoked Patriarchal Ukaz #362 of November 1920, in which Patriarch Tikhon gave leeway to dioceses to temporarily govern themselves when communication and regular contact with the authorities in war-torn Russia became insurmountable for normal church life, until such time as normal relations could be established.
In an April 12th telegram to Patriarch Tikhon announcing the decision, it was stated that this action was taken “as a way of self-preservation,” a somewhat imperfect solution to an intensely difficult set of questions facing the church in North America. And, thus, the jurisdictional body which would become known as the Metropolia was formed, which would in turn receive its autocephaly from Moscow in 1970 and rename itself the Orthodox Church in America.
April 7, 1934: Metropolitan Germanos Shehadi died in Beirut. Met Germanos had come to America twenty years earlier as a visitor, raising funds for an agricultural school in his archdiocese in what is today Lebanon. But then St. Raphael, the Syrian bishop in America, fell ill and died, and the popular Germanos decided to remain in America. The Syrians splintered, and one faction — the “Antacky” — recognized the authority of Germanos. The other group — the “Russy” — favored Bishop Aftimios Ofiesh, who served under the Russian Church. Germanos’ position was pretty shaky, because his own Patriarchate of Antioch refused to bless his work in America and instead ordered him to return to his archdiocese. Germanos held out, but then in 1924, the Patriarchate sent an official delegation to America and established the modern Antiochian Archdiocese of North America. This seriously undermined Germanos’ position, and most of his “Antacky” parishes naturally switched over to the official Antiochian jurisdiction. Germanos hung around in America for another nine years before finally returning to Syria in late 1933. The 62-year-old Germanos soon fell ill and died several months later. In addition to his role in the Russy-Antacky schism, he is most remembered for two things: (1) he briefly oversaw a Ukrainian jurisdiction in Canada, and (2) he was renowned for his beautiful singing voice.
April 7, 1947: Fr. Georges Florovsky arrived in New York aboard the Queen Elizabeth. Later this week, we’ll be publishing an article by Matthew Baker on this event.