Pilgrims from across North America gathered at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery, South Canaan, PA May 28-29, 2000 to celebrate the glorification of the first Orthodox Christian bishop to have been consecrated on North American soil—Saint Raphael Hawaweeny.
Today—February 27, 2015—marks the 100th Anniversary of Saint Raphael’s repose. His many missionary and pastoral journeys across North America to gather Orthodox Christian faithful of Middle Eastern background had taken their toll. He fell ill early in 1915, patiently bearing his infirmities at home. At 12:40 a.m. on February 27, he fell asleep in the Lord.
St. Raphael on pastoral visit to Beaumont, TX, circa 1914.
From his youth, Saint Raphael’s greatest joy was serving the Church. When he came to America, he found his scattered flock and called them to unity. He never neglected them, but traveled throughout America, Canada, and Mexico in search of them so that he might care for them. He kept them from straying from the faith and protected them from spiritual harm. During 20 years of faithful ministry, he nurtured them and helped them to grow. At the time of his death, the Syro-Arab Mission had 30 parishes with 25,000 faithful.
Saint Raphael also was a scholar and the author of several books. He wrote many, if not most, of the articles that appeared in The Word magazine—still published by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. While serving his own Arabic community, he reached out to Greeks and Russians, speaking to them in their own language. He became fluent in English, and encouraged its use in Church services and educational programs.
St. Tikhon [center] with Bishops Innocent of Alaska and Raphael of Brooklyn.
Saint Raphael came into contact with all sorts of people, and was a gentle father to them. He gained their love and respect by first loving them, and also through his charming personality and excellent character. He was always kind, merciful, and condescending with others, but was strict with himself. Having accomplished many good things during his earthly life, he entered the joy of eternal life where, with the holy angels and saints who went before him, he offers ceaseless prayer and praise to God.
A detailed account of Saint Raphael’s life and labors may be accessed here.
Through the prayers of our father among the saints, the holy Bishop Raphael, may we also be made worthy of the heavenly Kingdom.
On Sunday, February 1, 2015—the weekend following his consecration to the episcopacy—His Grace, Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa was welcomed as a hierarch to Saint Peter and Paul parish here, where he serves as pastor. The Divine Liturgy was concelebrated by His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate; His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West; Bishop Daniel; and several priests and deacons. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, retired Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, prayed in the altar.
The parishioners of Saints Peter and Paul honored the occasion of the elevation of their pastor to the episcopacy with a festive banquet following the Divine Liturgy. [Photo credit: Martin Paluch.]
View a photo gallery from the Liturgy and banquet here.
Anchorage, AK: Bishop David speaks at U of Alaska
At the invitation of Priest Robert Polson, Orthodox Christian Fellowship Chaplain at the University of Alaska Anchorage, His Grace, Bishop David addressed over 25 students on Thursday, February 19, 2015. The topic of his well-received talk was “Living an Orthodox Life in the Modern World, Religion vs. a Way of Life.”
The University’s OCF chapter meets on Mondays from 7:30 until 9:00 p.m. in UAA SSB Room 251.
Ft. Belvoir, VA: Fr. Baktis honored on retirement from chaplaincy
Archpriest Peter Baktis, Ch COL USA, was honored at a retirement ceremony at the US Intelligence and Security Command HQ here on February 18, 2015.
Awards were presented to Father Peter and Matushka Jeanne by BG Ray Bailey, Deputy Chief of Chaplains, on behalf of the Chief of Chaplains. Matushka Jeanne also received the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal for her dedicated service to the soldiers, families and civilians for the past 25 years.
Hosted by M.G. Franz, Commander, the ceremony was attended by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon; Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor; and Archpriest Theodore Boback, Ch Lieutenant Colonel USA-Retired, Dean and Executive Director of Orthodox Military and Veterans Administration Chaplains.
Metropolitan Tikhon presented a gramota, signed by all of the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops in recognition of his 25 years of service in the US Army and his 30 years of priestly ministry, to Father Peter. He also presented the Order of Saint Innocent Silver Class to the couple.
Father Peter and Matushka Jeanne will continue their ministry to the Church at the Mother of God, Joy of All Who Sorrow Parish, Princeton, NJ, where he begins his assignment as on March 15.
Photo galleries of the numerous Sunday of Orthodoxy celebrations slated to be held on the first Sunday of Great Lent, March 1, 2015, will again be featured on the web site of the Orthodox Church in America.
Photos of regional, deanery and parish celebrations should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org . Photos should be sent in high resolution, at least 600 pixels in width or larger. No more than three  photos from any given celebration should be sent. Please do not send links to on-line galleries, Vimeo postings, etc. Only photos sent as attachments will be posted.
Include the name and location of the host parish, the celebration sponsor [deanery, diocese, clergy association, etc.], the name of the hierarch or main celebrant, and the name of the guest preacher within the body of the e-mail to which the photos are attached. Brief captions, especially for parish celebrations, are acceptable as well.
The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, March 11, 2015.