This week in American Orthodox history (January 23-29)

January 23, 1921: Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine died of heart disease in New York, at the age of 71. Irvine has been a frequent topic on this website. Born in Ireland, Irvine came to the US as a teenager and served as an Episcopal priest for a quarter century before being defrocked by his bishop for “conduct unbecoming a clergyman.” In 1905, he converted to Orthodoxy and was ordained a priest by St. Tikhon, the Russian archbishop. Irvine was put in charge of “English work” in the Russian Church. He continued to attract controversy as an Orthodox priest, alienating most everyone he encountered, although St. Raphael found him useful in promoting the use of English. Needless to say, we’ll continue to examine Irvine’s career in future articles.

Fr. Michael Husson, circa 1900

January 27, 1939: Fr. Michael Husson died at the age of 79. He was one of the first Syrian/Antiochian clergymen in America, and spent many years as the rector of St. George Church in Worcester, MA. Here is one account of Fr. Michael, quoted in Arab American Faces and Voices by my grandmother’s cousin Elizabeth Boosahda (page 92):

It was Rev. Michael who told my family about their relatives living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa… Father Husson came from Worcester and he would travel all over the West because there was no Syrian Orthodox priest. He went from one town to another to do the duties of a priest. There were very, very few Orthodox priests in this country. Besides, Father Husson once a year would travel — he would wire ahead — and he would go to these different towns. Father Husson baptized my sister Mabel, and she was born in Cedar Rapids. He would go out to these places by train. People would give him a few dollars for all he did and then he would be on his way more informed as to the eligibility of those for marriage.

January 27, 1980: Fr. Basil Essey was ordained to the priesthood. Later, he was consecrated a bishop, and of course today he is the Antiochian Bishop of Wichita and the Secretary of the Assembly of Bishops.

January 29, 1983: Bishop Job Osacky was consecrated as the OCA Bishop of Hartford, CT. He eventually took over the OCA’s Midwest Diocese and became an archbishop, and in his later years, he became famous (and, in some circles, infamous) for his call for openness and transparency in the OCA. He died unexpectedly in December 2009.

If you know of any other important American Orthodox events that took place between January 23 and January 29, please let us know in the comments!

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