This week in American Orthodox history (June 11-17)

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.

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