This Week in American Orthodox History (Sept. 14-20)

Bishop Orestes Chornock is greeted in New York after his consecration as bishop in Constantinople (1938). Photo from
Bishop Orestes Chornock is greeted in New York after his consecration as bishop in Constantinople (1938). Photo from

September 18, 1905: On the very same day, two big events took place:

  • St. Tikhon Bellavin, the Russian Archbishop of North America, elevated Fr. Sebastian Dabovich to the rank of archimandrite. Dabovich was the leader of the Serbian Orthodox in America, and Tikhon planned to make him a bishop, although that never happened. Tikhon gave one of his own miters (crowns) to Dabovich, and years later, Dabovich auctioned off the miter to support the Serbian war effort. To read more about that, click here. (In fact, if you live in the Los Angeles area and would like to make a big historical discovery, you might consider helping figure out what happened to the miter.)
  • Late at night, a gunfight between the Orthodox Syrian and their Maronite Catholic counterparts took place in Brooklyn. St. Raphael Hawaweeny, the Bishop of Brooklyn, was there, and he was arrested along with a bunch of others. I’m in the midst of a series of articles on that incident over at

September 18, 1907: Archbishop Platon Rozhdestvensky arrived in America to replace St. Tikhon as Archbishop of North America. Platon served here until 1914, but he returned as a refugee after the Bolshevik Revolution and ended up leading the Russian Metropolia until his death.

September 17, 1914: Metropolitan Germanos Shehadi of Baalbek arrived in America on a fundraising visit for an agricultural school in his archdiocese back in Syria. But St. Raphael soon fell ill and died, and a lot of Syrian-Americans really liked Germanos, and Germanos really liked America, and a World War was going on, so… why go back? Germanos tried to stake his own ecclesiastical claim in America after St. Raphael’s 1915 death, leading to the Russy-Antacky schism among the Arab Orthodox in America. But in September 1914, all that was in the future, and Germanos was welcomed by pretty much everyone. (For more on the Russy-Antacky schism, check out this article that I wrote in 2012.)

September 19, 1916: Fr. Raphael Morgan, the first black Orthodox priest in America, wrote a letter against black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. I wrote an article about Morgan’s letter in March 2010; click here to read it.

September 19, 1920: Brand-new convert priest Fr. Patrick Mythen was elevated to the rank of archimandrite by Archbishop Alexander Nemolovsky. Mythen was a religious chameleon who was Catholic, and then Episcopalian, and then Catholic, and then Episcopalian, and then a sort-of-kind-of Theosophist, and then Orthodox, and finally Catholic again before his tragic young death in the mid-1920s. During his brief stint as an Orthodox priest, Mythen was given considerable authority, helping run the Russian Archdiocese during probably the craziest period in the history of Orthodoxy in America.

September 14, 1931: Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of New York Governor Franklin Roosevelt, attended the cornerstone-laying ceremony at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in New York. The ceremony was performed by Archbishop Athenagoras, the new head of the Greek Archdiocese. From the following day’s New York Times:

Mrs. Roosevelt said that the members of the Greek congregations had expressed their worship of God by means of beautiful edifices erected in this city. She added the hope that their fine spirit would be carried on by the new members of these congregations.

Members of the Holy Trinity congregation, whose church was destroyed by fire several years ago, and those of the congregation of the Church Evangelismos [Annunciation] will be amalgamated into one congregation in the new edifice which is expected to be completed in April at a cost of $600,000.

$600 grand in 1931 is equivalent to roughly $8.5 million today — a decent chunk of change in any era, but particularly during the Great Depression.

September 18, 1938: Bishop Orestes Chornock was consecrated in Constantinople to become the first head of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese (ACROD). He led the diocese until his death in 1977. Fr. Lawrence Barringer wrote a biography of Bishop Orestes, Good Victory, which was published by Holy Cross in 1985.

September 16, 1949: St. John Maximovitch, then the ROCOR Bishop of Shanghai, spoke before the United States Congress. This article is getting a bit long, and St. John’s visit to Congress is really interesting, so I think I’ll save this one for another day.

September 14, 1951: Fr. Demetrios Makris was consecrated a bishop for the Greek Archdiocese, with the title “Bishop of Olympus” For more on Bishop Demetrios, click here.

September 18, 1999: Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis was enthroned as head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. In addition to his duties with the GOA and the broader Ecumenical Patriarchate, Archbishop Demetrios chairs the Assembly of Bishops, which is holding its meeting in Dallas this week (from Sept. 16-18).

One comment:

  1. I just saw an announcement from the Serbian Diocese of the West out of Los Angeles —

    Holy Missionaries MARDARIJE (Uskokovic) and SEBASTIAN (Dabovich) Newly Proclaimed as Saints of the Orthodox Church!!! On May 29, 2015, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Patriarchate of Serbia glorified them as saints.
    Their names were added to the Orthodox Calendar for commemoration and the Holy Synod decreed that Saint Mardarije of Libertyville should be commemorated on December 12, and Venerable Sebastian of Jackson on November 30.

    Pray for us, Saints Mardarije and Sebastian!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *