Today in American Orthodox History: May 13

Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan died on May 13, 2006

Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan died on May 13, 2006

On May 13, 1888, a diverse group of Orthodox men, mostly from Greece and the Balkans, met in Chicago to discuss the formation of a multiethnic Orthodox parish. That meeting was the topic of one of the very first posts on this blog, back in 2009. And also one of my first podcasts on AFR, also in 2009. I also did a follow-up post later that year, on what happened after that May 1888 meeting.

Twenty-nine years later, on May 13, 1917, Fr. Aftimios Ofiesh was consecrated bishop for the Syro-Arab Mission. It was… well, not the best move. Ofiesh was consecrated by the Russian hierarchs Archbishop Evdokim Meschersky and Bishop Alexander Nemolovsky, and he was supposed to be the successor to St. Raphael, who had died over two years before. But Ofiesh was a divisive figure and the Syro-Arabs had already begun to split into warring camps (the pro-Russian “Russy” faction versus the pro-Patriarchate of Antioch “Antacky” faction). To read about that split check out this article from 2012.

Finally, also on May 13 but this time in 2006, the great church historian Jaroslav Pelikan passed away. Pelikan had joined the Orthodox Church back in 1998, after which he served on the board of trustees for St. Vladimir’s Seminary. Pelikan produced some fantastic quotations, one of which appeared in a 2003 article by Fr. John Erickson (which apparently is now unavailable online): “Everybody else is an expert on the present. I wish to file a minority report on behalf of the past.”

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