St. Raphael, Bishop of Brooklyn and the Dream of Orthodox Unity in America

[Spring -Summer 2000]

   Over Memorial Day Weekend (May 27-29), Orthodoxy in America celebrated at St. Tikhon’s Monastery, South Canaan, Pennsylvania the glorification of St. Raphael, bishop of Brooklyn. During the canonization services Bishop Basil (Essey) mentioned that St. Raphael, being in America at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, "understood" proper canonical order. He went on to say that St. Raphael lived at a time when Orthodox Christians in America "breathed the same air," and their hearts "beat with the same rhythm" of unity. Here are the greetings delivered by then Archimandrite Raphael, on December 13, 1898, on the arrival of Archbishop Tikhon, the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church designated to head the American Church, to the Russian Church of St. Nicholas in New York City:

   Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.
All twenty thousand members of the Syro-Arab colony living in New York and elsewhere in North America together with me greet Your Grace, our new spiritual Father and Archpastor, on the occasion of your safe arrival. We are so bold as to ask Your Grace for one thing only – that you will continue to give to us, the Orthodox Syro-Arabs living within the boundaries of your diocese, the same maternal love, the same paternal care, the same archpastoral attention, that was given to us by your most gracious predecessor. And we, on our part, remembering the words of the Apostle, "obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls" (Hebrews 13:17), not only promise to the Holy Synod and to Your Grace our full obedience and our filial submission to all your paternal commands and archpastoral directions, but we also fully deliver ourselves over to your archpastoral care and blessings.

   May our Lord Jesus Christ, through the prayers of the holy Nicholas of Myra in Lycia and Tikhon of Zadonsk, help Your Grace in this your new archpastoral
ministry for the benefit of the Orthdoox Church and the flowering of the Orthodox Faith in this New World. Amen.

[from: Leonid Kishkovsky, "Archbishop Tikhon in America," St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, vol. 19, no. 1, 1975, p. 10.]

 

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