HOLY RESURRECTION ORTHODOX CATHEDRAL
(Orthodox Church in America)
591 North Main Street Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
WELCOME TO OUR CHURCH COMMUNITY!

HOLY RESURRECTION ORTHODOX CATHEDRAL is a parish community of the Diocese of Philadelphia & Eastern Pennsylvania of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). Our bishop, Archbishop MARK (Maymon), provides spiritual oversight for our community. The parish community was founded in 1892 by Fr. Alexis Toth (now a canonized saint in the Orthodox Church).

 

Archbishop MARK's Paschal Message | Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania (doepa.org)

 

The Resurrection of Christ 2021

Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon
Pascha 2021

To the Venerable Hierarchs, Esteemed Clergy, Reverend Monastics, and Beloved Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America,

Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

Today the Myrrhbearing Women arrive at the tomb and, seeing the angel, hear from him the joyous message that the Lord has risen. When they leave the tomb, running to tell the Apostles the news, Christ Himself suddenly appears to them and greets them with a single word: “Rejoice!” (Mt 28:9).

On this bright day, as we celebrate this glorious feast of feasts, this supreme festival of festivals, the Resurrection of Christ, I in turn extend our Lord’s greeting and say to you all: “Rejoice!”

Our Lord Jesus Christ has revealed Himself to us through His Death and Resurrection. He has won the victory for us over seemingly meaningless death by His all-meaningful Death, and we in turn celebrate with exceeding joy. Death no longer stings and hell has no victory, for its gates are smashed and its prisoners are freed. The Resurrection of Christ has brought eternal life to all.

Through the Resurrection, we rejoice—in spite of our sins, hardheartedness, and lack of forgiveness. For we know that God promised through Jeremiah: “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer 31:34).

Through the Resurrection, we rejoice—in spite of our doubts, worries, and anxieties. For as was guaranteed to us through Zephaniah: “No one shall make them afraid… The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall see disaster no more!” (Zeph 3:13, 15).

Through the Resurrection, we rejoice—in spite of the difficulties, trials, and struggles that we have faced, and always will face, in the brief span of our earthly lives. For Christ Himself has promised: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen!” (Mt 28:20).

My brothers and sisters in the Lord: “Rejoice!” Our sins are forgiven, our anxieties cease, and our temporary sufferings are given meaning through the Resurrection of the One who grants us eternal life. And while this eternal life is only fully manifest in the age to come, it is ours to experience joyfully even now.

May we celebrate the Feast of the Resurrection in joy and love. From this day forward, may we never cease exulting in the Lord.

Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

+ TIKHON
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

 

Posted

April 9, 2021

Dear Clergy, 

Glory be to Jesus Christ during this period of Holy and Great Lent!

The Hierarchs of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops are aware of the many pastoral issues we face regarding mental health among the faithful. These issues are complex and challenging and, during the pandemic, have increased significantly. It is well known among mental health professionals that many people of Faith approach their parish priest, before their physician or a therapist, with mental health struggles. The Mental Health Task Force of the Assembly of Bishops has completed a Directory of Orthodox Mental Health Professionals as a first resource to immediately meet an urgent need. We hope that you have been sharing it, listing it on your websites, and encouraging Orthodox Christian providers in your region to apply to be listed.

In an effort to further understand and respond to the specific mental health needs of our clergy and faithful, we are now conducting a comprehensive anonymous survey:

  • The Needs Assessment Survey can be accessed at: https://www.assemblyofbishops.org/ministries/mental-health-task-force/mental-health-needs-assessment-survey
  • The survey is completely anonymous and takes about 15 minutes to complete
  • Both clergy and the faithful age 18 and older are asked to complete the survey by June 15, 2021
  • All faithful are invited to complete the survey, regardless of their experience with mental health or their level of engagement with the Church.
  • Parishes are encouraged to print copies of the survey for parishioners who are not comfortable using a computer. Guidelines are provided on the aforementioned survey page.
  • Data collected from the survey will be analyzed by the Task Force to create mental health related resources that reflect our Orthodox praxis and theological perspective.

In order for the work of the Task Force to successfully serve you and the faithful, I ask you to assist by the following:

  1. Please participate in the anonymous survey and ask your parishioners to participate in the survey. Please help us meet our goal of at least 50 parishioners from each parish.
  2. Please promote the survey across all communication platforms you use with your parish. For your convenience, promotional icons for social media and bulletin inserts are available at assemblyofbishops.org/mental-health.
  3. Please continue to promote in your community the Directory of Orthodox Mental Health Professionals and encourage Orthodox providers you know to join the directory:  https://www.assemblyofbishops.org/directories/mental-health/

Thank you for distributing the survey to all of your parishioners, continuing to promote the Directory, and for your ongoing assistance as we attend to our faithful in need.

Sincerely yours in Christ,


+MARK

Archbishop of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania

 

 

The following was posted on 3/28/2021:

 

Dear to God, Christ is in our midst! Greetings as we begin the third week of Great Lent. I pray your Lenten Journey is proving fruitful. The past year has truly been a rollercoaster ride for all of us and we need to be mindful and considerate of those suffering from isolation, fear, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and loneliness, as well as those who have lost loved ones. Additionally, divisions occurred as people lost the ability to discuss differing opinions on a variety of matters. Hopefully, we are encouraged by the drastic decrease in the number of hospitalizations and deaths attributed to COVID 19 since mid-January, even before significant numbers were administered the experimental COVID 19. On January 22, 2021 the Assembly of Bishops issued a Statement Regarding Developments in Medicine: COVID-19 Vaccines & Immunizations. 1 The fourth paragraph explicitly states, “We therefore encourage all of you – the clergy and the lay faithful of our Church – to consult your physicians in order to determine the appropriate course of action for you, just as you do for surgeries, medications, and vaccinations, in cancer treatments and other ailments.” Each person must prayerfully consider what the correct course of action is. As your Bishop, I insist each of you respect the conscience and privacy of your brothers and sisters in Christ. No one is to be asked if he or she has or has not received the injections. No one is to be denied full participation in the Divine Services or parish life regardless of his or her decision. No one should be judged or criticized one way or the other. Let us continue the Fast focusing on drawing nearer to Christ the Source of Life and to one another. Your unworthy father in Christ, + MARK, Archbishop of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania 1 The text of which may be found at the following link, https://www.assemblyofbishops.org/assets/files/messages/AoB%20Exec%20Co%20Medicine%20Statement.pd

 

I am pleased to announce that the encyclical, “We Rejoice Even in Tribulations”: An Encyclical of Hope, adopted unanimously at the last meeting of the Holy Synod, has been posted today on the home page: https://www.oca.org/news/headline-news/holy-synod-of-bishops-issues-an-encyclical-of-hope
 

Guidelines for Funerals:

https://doepa.org/files/Policies/CDC-Guidelines/CDC-Funeral-Guidelines.pdf

 

 

UPCOMING EVENTS...
Follow the Diocese on Instagram: Follow us @oca_doepa or OCA Diocese of Eastern PA
WORSHIP, PRAYER and SERVICE SCHEDULE
Regular Weekly Services (Unless otherwise noted)

Saturday-  Great Vespers 4:00 p.m.

Sunday-    Prayer of the Hours 8:40 am  &  Divine Liturgy 9:00 a.m.

Eve of Major Feast Days - Great Vespers 6:00 pm (followed by holy Confession), see DOEPA Directive 

Major Feast Days -  Divine Liturgy 9:00 a.m. 

Rector: Fr. Gregory G. White Sr. 570-822-7725 gregory.white@stots.edu

Mitred Archpriest Vladimir Petorak: Pastor Emeritus

Protodeacon: Sergei Kapral

Choir Director, Sub-Deacon Ian Abodeely, iabodeely@gmail.com

Mr. Michael Pieck: Board of Directors President

Catechism Classes - For those who are interested in finding out more about the Holy Orthodox Church or how to go about joining, classes are offered on a continual / rotating basis. For more information contact Fr. Gregory at 570-822-7725 or email him at:  gregory.white@stots.edu

Study Group & Recommended Reading

 

Our Orthodox Christian study group is currently reading:

A five book series: Revelation, The Seven Golden Seals by Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios ISBN 978-0-9851915-2-8, Zoe Press, Monday nights @ 6:30 p.m. held in the hall of Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral 591 N. Main St. Wilkes-Barre, PA. Bring your Orthodox Study Bible! First time visitors should call ahead of time to confirm the weekly schedule. 

Many of the following books are rated four to five stars. These books are recommended reading for those who want to know more about the Holy Orthodox Faith and Christs' Church! If you take the time to read you will find out that the Church still exists today.  James 1:5, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and without reproach; and it shall be given him."

Information on Mount Athos

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Athos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mXl8C4-M_4&t=15s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5D8OxrSZZU8&t=361s

Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells by Matthew Gallatin, St. Valdimir's Seminary Press, ISBN 978-1-888212-28

https://www.svspress.com/

The Truth, What Every Roman Catholic Should Know About the Orthodox Church by Clark Carlton, Regina, Salisbury, MA

The Faith, Understanding Orthodox Christianity, An Orthodox Catechism also by Clark Carlton 

The Way, What Every Protestant Should Know About the Orthodox Faith also by Clark Carlton

Knowledge of God by Dr. Harry Boolas, St. Tikhon's Seminary Press ISBN 978-1-878997-83-8

Current members of the Holy Orthodox Faith, or the more advanced inquirer are encouraged to also check out the following titles. They will help with your understanding of who Jesus Christ is... What happened to the early Church?  Does it still exist?  What's Orthodox Salvation all about? 

Matthew The Poor, Orthodox Prayer Life, The Interior Way, by Father Matta El-Meskeen, St. Valdimirs Press, ISBN 978-0-88141-250-5

The Soul's Longing An Orthodox Christian Perspective on Biblical Interpretation by Dr. Mary Ford ISBN 978-0-9905029-6-8 

A must read for those that struggle with Biblical Interpretation in this day and age of Denominationalism. Read how the early Church understood the Holy Scripture and it's Tradition. 

The Orthodox Study Bible by Thomas Nelson Publishing. Full of comemtary, teachings, references and study articles ISBN 978-0-7180-0359-3 

Orthodox Spirituality by Metropolitan Nafpaktos Hierotheos, Birth of the Theotokos Monastery ISBN 978-960-7070-20-3 

Passions and Virtues According to St. Gregory Palamas by Anestis Keselopoulos, St. Tikhon's Seminary Press,                     ISBN 1-878997-75-0  

Acquiring the Mind of Christ by Archimandrite Serguis, St. Tikhon's Monastery Press, ISBN 978-0-995029-9-9 

https://sttikhonsmonastery.org/

Glory and Honor, Orthodox Christian Resources on Marriage by Dr. David Ford, Dr. Mary Ford and Alfred Kentigern Siewers. Editors, St. Valdimirs Seminary Press, ISBN 9789-0-8841-540-1. A must read before you get married! 

Angels and Demons by Dr. Harry Boosalis, ISBN 978-1-878997-83-8 

Holy Traditon by Dr. Harry Boosalis, ISBN 978-0-9884574-2-3 

Orthodox Spiritual Life According to Saint Silouan the Anthonite by Dr. Harry Boosalas, St. Tikhon's Seminary Press, ISBN 978-1-878997-60-9

https://www.stspress.com/

Man the Target of God by Archimandrite Zacharias, Mount Tabor Publishing 

The following series of titles expand even more on Wisdom and Spirituality inspired by the Holy Spirit by the Monastic life on Mount Athos. The three stages of Orthodox Christian Salvation; Purification, Illumination and Deification are outlined throughout these timeless resources.  

Remember Thy First Love by Archimandrite Zacharias, Mount Tabor Publishing 

Enlargement of the Heart by Archimandrite Zacharias, Mount Tabor Publishing 

The Hidden Man of the Heart by Archimandrite Zacharias, Mount Tabor Publishing  

Saint Silouan the Anthonite by Archimandrite Sophrony, Mount Tabor Publishing  

http://mountthabor.com/

Information on Mount Athos, also posted above!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Athos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mXl8C4-M_4&t=15s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5D8OxrSZZU8&t=361s

ABOUT THE UPCOMING FEAST...

Bright Monday

On Bright Monday the Church commemorates the Sweet-Kissing (Glykophilousa) Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Like the Ivḗron Icon (March 31), the Sweet-Kissing Icon was also saved from the iconoclasts by a pious woman in the ninth century. It also traveled miraculously upon the sea, arriving at Mt. Athos, the “Garden of the Theotokos,” where it was honored by the monks.

 

A nobleman named Simeon was an iconoclast who shared the emperor Theophilus’s hatred for the holy icons. Simeon’s wife Victoria, on the other hand, venerated icons, especially a certain icon of the Mother of God before which she prayed each day. Simeon could not tolerate his wife’s piety, so he demanded that she give him the icon so he could burn it. Victoria threw the icon into the sea, hoping that it would be preserved through God’s providence.

 

Years later, the icon appeared on the shores of Mt. Athos near the monastery of Philotheou. The igumen and the brethren of the monastery retrieved the icon and placed it in the church, where it worked many miracles.

 

In 1830 a pilgrim came to the monastery from Adrianopolis. He listened to the history of the icon and the miracles associated with it, but regarded such things as childish fables. The monk who had related all this was surprised and grieved by the pilgrim’s disbelief, fearing that such doubts indicated an unhealthy spiritual state. He did all that he could to remove the pilgrim’s skepticism, but the man stubbornly adhered to his opinion.

The Mother of God, in her compassion, finally healed the pilgrim’s soul in a rather dramatic way. On the very day that he had his discussion with the monk, the pilgrim was walking on an upper balcony. Suddenly, he lost his footing and began to fall. In his distress he called out, “Most Holy Theotokos, help me!” The Mother of God heard him, and he landed on the ground completely unharmed.

 

The icon is one of the Eleusa (Tenderness) type. It is unusual in that it shows the Virgin kissing her Child. Christ raises His hand as if to repulse His mother’s caress.

 

HOLY PASCHA: The Resurrection of Our Lord

Pascha (Easter)

Enjoy ye all the feast of faith; receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness.
(Sermon of Saint John Chrysostom, read at Paschal Matins)

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the center of the Christian faith. Saint Paul says that if Christ is not raised from the dead, then our preaching and faith are in vain (I Cor. 15:14). Indeed, without the resurrection there would be no Christian preaching or faith. The disciples of Christ would have remained the broken and hopeless band which the Gospel of John describes as being in hiding behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. They went nowhere and preached nothing until they met the risen Christ, the doors being shut (John 20: 19). Then they touched the wounds of the nails and the spear; they ate and drank with Him. The resurrection became the basis of everything they said and did (Acts 2-4): “. . . for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39).

The resurrection reveals Jesus of Nazareth as not only the expected Messiah of Israel, but as the King and Lord of a new Jerusalem: a new heaven and a new earth.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. . . the holy city, new Jerusalem. And I heard a great voice from the throne saying “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people. . . He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away (Rev. 21:1-4).

In His death and resurrection, Christ defeats the last enemy, death, and thereby fulfills the mandate of His Father to subject all things under His feet (I Cor. 15:24-26).

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing (Rev. 5: 12)

THE FEAST OF FEASTS

The Christian faith is celebrated in the liturgy of the Church. True celebration is always a living participation. It is not a mere attendance at services. It is communion in the power of the event being celebrated. It is God’s free gift of joy given to spiritual men as a reward for their self-denial. It is the fulfillment of spiritual and physical effort and preparation. The resurrection of Christ, being the center of the Christian faith, is the basis of the Church’s liturgical life and the true model for all celebration. This is the chosen and holy day, first of sabbaths, king and lord of days, the feast of feasts, holy day of holy days. On this day we bless Christ forevermore (Irmos 8, Paschal Canon).

PREPARATION

Twelve weeks of preparation precede the “feast of feasts.” A long journey which includes five prelenten Sundays, six weeks of Great Lent and finally Holy Week is made. The journey moves from the self-willed exile of the prodigal son to the grace-filled entrance into the new Jerusalem, coming down as a bride beautifully adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:2) Repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and study are the means by which this long journey is made.

Focusing on the veneration of the Cross at its midpoint, the lenten voyage itself reveals that the joy of the resurrection is achieved only through the Cross. “Through the cross joy has come into all the world,” we sing in one paschal hymn. And in the paschal troparion, we repeat again and again that Christ has trampled down death—by death! Saint Paul writes that the name of Jesus is exalted above every name because He first emptied Himself, taking on the lowly form of a servant and being obedient even to death on the Cross (Phil. 2:5-11). The road to the celebration of the resurrection is the self-emptying crucifixion of Lent. Pascha is the passover from death to life.

Yesterday I was buried with Thee, O Christ.
Today I arise with Thee in Thy resurrection.
Yesterday I was crucified with Thee:
Glorify me with Thee, O Savior, in Thy kingdom (Ode 3, Paschal Canon).

THE PROCESSION

The divine services of the night of Pascha commence near midnight of Holy Saturday. At the Ninth Ode of the Canon of Nocturn, the priest, already vested in his brightest robes, removes the Holy Shroud from the tomb and carries it to the altar table, where it remains until the leave-taking of Pascha. The faithful stand in darkness. Then, one by one, they light their candles from the candle held by the priest and form a great procession out of the church. Choir, servers, priest and people, led by the bearers of the cross, banners, icons and Gospel book, circle the church. The bells are rung incessantly and the angelic hymn of the resurrection is chanted.

The procession comes to a stop before the principal doors of the church. Before the closed doors the priest and the people sing the troparion of Pascha, “Christ is risen from the dead...”, many times. Even before entenng the church the priest and people exchange the paschal greeting: “Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!” This segment of the paschal services is extremely important. It preserves in the expenence of the Church the primitive accounts of the resurrection of Christ as recorded in the Gospels. The angel rolled away the stone from the tomb not to let a biologically revived but physically entrapped Christ walk out, but to reveal that “He is not here; for He has risen, as He said” (Matt. 28:6).

In the paschal canon we sing:

Thou didst arise, O Christ, and yet the tomb remained sealed, as at Thy birth the Virgin’s womb remained unharmed; and Thou has opened for us the gates of paradise (Ode 6).

Finally, the procession of light and song in the darkness of night, and the thunderous proclamation that, indeed, Christ is risen, fulfill the words of the Evangelist John: “The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).

The doors are opened and the faithful re-enter. The church is bathed in light and adorned with flowers. It is the heavenly bride and the symbol of the empty tomb:

Bearing life and more fruitful than paradise
Brighter than any royal chamber,
Thy tomb, O Christ, is the fountain or our resurrection (Paschal Hours).

MATINS

Matins commences immediately. The risen Christ is glorified in the singing of the beautiful canon of Saint John of Damascus. The paschal greeting is repeatedly exchanged. Near the end of Matins the paschal verses are sung. They relate the entire narrative of the Lord’s resurrection. They conclude with the words calling us to actualize among each other the forgiveness freely given to all by God:

This is the day of resurrection.
Let us be illumined by the feast.
Let us embrace each other.
Let us call “brothers” even those who hate us,
And forgive all by the resurrection. . .

The sermon of Saint John Chrysostom is then read by the celebrant. The sermon was originally composed as a baptismal instruction. It is retained by the Church in the paschal services because everything about the night of Pascha recalls the Sacrament of Baptism: the language and general terminology of the liturgical texts, the specific hymns, the vestment color, the use of candles and the great procession itself. Now the sermon invites us to a great reaffirmation of our baptism: to union with Christ in the receiving of Holy Communion.

If any man is devout and loves God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. . . the table is fully laden; feast you all sumptuously. . . the calf is fatted, let no one go hungry away. . .

THE DIVINE LITURGY

The sermon announces the imminent beginning of the Divine Liturgy. The altar table is fully laden with the divine food: the Body and Blood of the risen and glorified Christ. No one is to go away hungry. The service books are very specific in saying that only he who partakes of the Body and Blood of Christ eats the true Pascha. The Divine Liturgy, therefore, normally follows immediately after paschal Matins. Foods from which the faithful have been asked to abstain during the lenten journey are blessed and eaten only after the Divine Liturgy.

THE DAY WITHOUT EVENING

Pascha is the inauguration of a new age. It reveals the mystery of the eighth day. It is our taste, in this age, of the new and unending day of the Kingdom of God. Something of this new and unending day is conveyed to us in the length of the paschal services, in the repetition of the paschal order for all the services of Bright Week, and in the special paschal features retained in the services for the forty days until Ascension. Forty days are, as it were, treated as one day. Together they comprise the symbol of the new time in which the Church lives and toward which she ever draws the faithful, from one degree of glory to another.

O Christ, great and most holy Pascha.
O Wisdom, Word and Power of God,
grant that we may more perfectly partake of Thee in the never-ending day of Thy kingdom
(Ninth Ode, Paschal Canon).

The V. Rev. Paul Lazor
New York, 1977

Holy Week: An Explanation of Great Lent and Holy Week are two separate fasts, and two separate celebrations.

The Vesperal Divine Liturgy of Holy Saturday concludes the services of Holy Week, and brings us to the eve of Great and Holy Pascha. Pascha: The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the center for the Christian faith. Indeed, without the resurrection there would be no Christian preaching or faith. The disciples of Christ would have remained the broken and hopeless band which the Gospel of John describes as being in hiding behind locked doors because of great fear. They went nowhere and preached nothing until they met the Risen Christ, the doors being shut. Then they touched the wounds of the nails and the spear; they ate and drank with Him. The resurrection became the basis of everything they said and did. The resurrection reveals Jesus of Nazareth as not only the expected Messiah of Israel but as the King and Lord of a new Jerusalem; a new Heaven and a new earth. 

Pascha is the inauguration of a new age. It reveals the mystery of the eighth day. It is our taste, in this age, of the new and unending day of the Kingdom of God. Something of this new and unending day is conveyed to us in the length of the paschal services, in the repetition of the paschal order for all the services of bright week, and in the special paschal features retained in the services for the forty days until Ascension. Forty days are, as it were, treated as one day. Together they comprise the symbol of the new time in which the Church lives and toward which she ever draws the faithful, from one degree of glory to another.

Repose of Saint Alexis Toth, Confessor and Defender of Orthodoxy in America

Our holy Father Alexis, the defender of the Orthodox Faith and zealous worker in the Lord’s vineyard, was born in Austro-Hungary on March 18, 1854 into a poor Carpatho-Russian family. Like many others in the Austro-Hungarian empire, the Toths were Eastern Rite Catholics. Alexis’ father and brother were priests and his uncle was a bishop in the Uniate church. He received an excellent education and knew several languages (Carpatho-Russian, Hungarian, Russian, German, Latin, and a reading knowledge of Greek). He married Rosalie Mihalich, a priest’s daughter, and was ordained on April 18, 1878 to serve as second priest in a Uniate parish. His wife died soon afterwards, followed by their only child—losses which the saint endured with the patience of Job.

In May, 1879, Father Alexis was appointed secretary to the Bishop of Presov and also Administrator of the Diocesan Administration. He was also entrusted with the directorship of an orphanage. At Presov Seminary, Father Toth taught Church History and Canon Law, which served him well in his later life in America. Saint Alexis did not serve long as a professor or an administrator, for the Lord had a different future planned for him. In October, 1889 he was appointed to serve as pastor of a Uniate parish in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Like another Abraham, he left his country and his relatives to fulfill the will of God (Gen 12:1).

Upon his arrival in America, Father Alexis presented himself to the local Roman Catholic diocesan authority, Archbishop John Ireland, since there was no Uniate bishop in America at that time. Archbishop Ireland belonged to the party of American Catholics who favored the “Americanization” of all Roman Catholics. His vision for the future was founded on a common faith, customs, and the use of the English language for everything except liturgical celebrations. Naturally, ethnic parishes and non-Latin rite clergy did not fit into this vision. Thus, when Father Toth came to present his credentials, Archbishop Ireland greeted him with open hostility. He refused to recognize him as a legitimate Catholic priest or to grant permission for him to serve in his diocese.

As a historian and professor of Canon Law, Father Toth knew his rights under the terms of the Unia and would not accept Archbishop Ireland’s unjust decisions. In October of 1890, there was a meeting of eight of the ten Uniate priests in America at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania under the chairmanship of Father Toth. By this time the American bishops had written to Rome demanding the recall to Europe of all Uniate priests in America, fearing that Uniate priests and parishes would hinder the assimilation of immigrants into American culture. Uniate bishops in Europe refused to listen to the priests’ pleas for help.

Archbishop Ireland sent a letter to his parishes ordering their members not to attend Father Toth’s parish nor to accept any priestly ministrations from him. Expecting imminent deportation, Father Toth explained the situation to his parishioners and suggested it might be best for him to leave and return to Europe.

“No,” they said. “Let’s go to the Russian bishop. Why should we always submit ourselves to foreigners?” It was decided to write to the Russian consul in San Francisco in order to ask for the name and address of the Russian bishop. Ivan Mlinar went to San Francisco to make initial contact with Bishop Vladimir; then in February, 1891 Father Toth and his church warden, Paul Podany, also made the journey. Subsequently, Bishop Vladimir came to Minneapolis and on March 25, 1891 received Father Toth and 361 parishioners into the Orthodox Church of their ancestors. The parishioners regarded this event as a new Triumph of Orthodoxy, crying out with joy: “Glory to God for His great mercy!”

This initiative came from the people themselves, and was not the result of any coercion from outsiders. The Russian Orthodox Church was unaware of the existence of these Slavic Uniate immigrants to America, but responded positively to their petition to be reunited to the Orthodox Church.

The example of Saint Alexis and his parish in returning to Orthodoxy was an encouragement to hundreds of other Uniates. The ever-memorable one was like a candle upon a candlestick giving light to others (Mt.5:15), and his flock may be likened to the leaven mixed with meal which leavened the whole (Mt.13:33). Through his fearless preaching he uprooted the tares which had sprung up in the wheat of true doctrine, and exposed the false teachings which had led his people astray. Although he did not hesitate to point out errors in the doctrines of other denominations, he was careful to warn his flock against intolerance. His writings and sermons are filled with admonitions to respect other people and to refrain from attacking their faith.

While it is true that he made some strong comments, especially in his private correspondence with the church administration, it must be remembered that this was done while defending the Orthodox Church and the American Mission from unfounded accusations by people who used much harsher language than Father Toth. His opponents may be characterized by intolerance, rude behaviour, unethical methods and threats against him and his parishioners. Yet, when Father Alexis was offended or deceived by other people he forgave them, and he would often ask his bishop to forgive his omissions and mistakes.

In the midst of great hardships, this herald of godly theology and sound doctrine poured forth an inexhaustible stream of Orthodox writings for new converts, and gave practical advice on how to live in an Orthodox manner. For example, his article “How We should Live in America” stresses the importance of education, cleanliness, sobriety, and the presence of children in church on Sundays and Holy Days.

Although the Minneapolis parish was received into the Orthodox Church in March, 1891, it was not until July, 1892 that the Holy Synod of Russia recognized and accepted the parish into the Diocese of Alaska and the Aleutians. This resolution reached America only in October, 1892. During that time there was a climate of religious and ethnic hostility against the new converts. Father Alexis was accused of selling out his own Carpatho-Russian people and his religion to the “Muscovites” for financial gain.

In reality he did not receive any financial support for a long time, for his parish was very poor. Until his priestly salary began to arrive from Russia, the righteous one was obliged to work in a bakery in order to support himself. Even though his funds were meager, he did not neglect to give alms to the poor and needy. He shared his money with other clergy worse off than himself, and contributed to the building of churches and to the education of seminarians in Minneapolis. He was not anxious about his life (Mt.6:25), what he would eat or drink or wear. Trusting in God to take care of him, Saint Alexis followed the admonition of Our Savior to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Mt.6:33). So he bore the tribulation, slander, and physical attacks with patience and spiritual joy, reminding us that “godliness is stronger than all” (Wisdom of Solomon 10:12).

Bishops Vladimir, Nicholas, Saint Tikhon, and Platon recognized the special gifts of Father Toth, so they often sent him forth to preach and teach wherever there were people of Slavic background. Even though he was aware of his shortcomings and inadequacies, yet he was obedient to the instructions of the bishops. He did not hesitate or make excuses, but went immediately to fulfill his mission. Saint Alexis visited many Uniate parishes, explaining the differences between Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism and Uniatism, stressing that the true way to salvation is in Orthodoxy.

Like Josiah, “he behaved himself uprightly in the conversion of his people” (Sir 49:2). He was instrumental in the formation or return of seventeen parishes, planting a vineyard of Christ in America, and increasing its fruitful yield many times over. By 1909, the time of his blessed repose, many thousands of Carpatho-Russian and Galician Uniates had returned to Orthodoxy. This was a major event in the history of the North American Mission, which would continue to shape the future of Orthodoxy in this country for many generations to come. Any future growth or success may truly be regarded as the result of Father Toth’s apostolic labors.

Who can tell of the saint’s spiritual struggles? Who can speak of the prayers which his pious soul poured forth unto God? He did not make a public display of his piety, but prayed to God in secret with all modesty, with contrition and inward tears. God, Who sees everything done in secret, openly rewarded the saint (Mt.6:6). It is inconceivable that Saint Alexis could have accomplished his apostolic labors unless God had blessed and strengthened him for such work. Today the Church continues to reap the fruits of his teaching and preaching.

Father Toth’s efforts did not go unrecognized in his own lifetime. He received a jeweled miter from the Holy Synod, as well as the Order of Saint Vladimir and the Order of Saint Anna from Czar Nicholas II for distinguished service and devotion to God and country. In 1907, he was considered as a candidate for the episcopal office. He declined this honor, however, humbly pointing out that this responsibility should be given to a younger, healthier man.

At the end of 1908, Saint Alexis’ health began to decline due to a complication of illneses. He went to the seashore in southern New Jersey in an attempt to regain his health, but soon returned to Wilkes-Barre, where he was confined to bed for two months. The righteous one reposed on Friday, May 7, 1909 (April 24 on the Old Calendar), the feast of Saints Savva and Alexius the Hermit of the Kiev Caves. Saint Alexis’ love and concern for his spiritual children did not cease with his death. Before closing the account of his life, it would be most appropriate to reveal but one example of his heavenly intercession:

In January, 1993 a certain man prayed to Saint Alexis to help him obtain information about his son from whom he had been separated for twenty-eight years. Placing his confidence in the saint’s boldness before God, he awaited an answer to his prayer. The very next day the man’s son telephoned him. It seems the young man was in church when he was suddenly filled with an overwhelming desire to contact his father. He had been taken to another state by his mother, and she changed his name when he was a child. This is why his father was unable to locate him. Having learned from his mother that his father was an Orthodox Christian, he was able with the help of an Orthodox priest to obtain his father’s phone number in a distant city. As a result of that telephone call, the young man later visited his father, who rejoiced to see what sort of man his son had become. The father gave thanks to God and to Saint Alexis for reuniting him with his son.

Saint Alexis was a true man of God who guided many Carpatho-Russian and Galician immigrants through the dark confusion of religious challenges in the New World and back to the unity of the Orthodox Church through his grace-filled words and by his holy example. In his last will and testament Saint Alexis commended his soul to God’s mercy, asking forgiveness from everyone and forgiving everybody. His holy relics now rest at Saint Tikhon Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania where the faithful may come to venerate them and to entreat Saint Alexis’ intercessions on their behalf.

 

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The Mission of The Orthodox Church in America, the local autocephalous Orthodox Christian Church, is to be faithful in fulfilling the commandment of Christ to “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

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Holy Resurrection Cathedral is part of the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania, which is presided over by The Most Reverend Mark (Maymon), Archbishop of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania. Our mission is bringing the joy of Christ's resurrection to those who have never heard the Good News, and to strengthen and encourage the faithful who reside within Wilkes-Barre and the local area. 

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The Holy Scripture is a collection of books written over multiple centuries by those inspired by God to do so. It is the primary witness to the Orthodox Christian faith, within Holy Tradition and often described as its highest point. It was written by the prophets and apostles in human language, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and collected, edited, and canonized by the Church.

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Holiness or sainthood is a gift (charisma) given by God to man, through the Holy Spirit. Man's effort to become a participant in the life of divine holiness is indispensable, but sanctification itself is the work of the Holy Trinity, especially through the sanctifying power of Jesus Christ, who was incarnate, suffered crucifixion, and rose from the dead, in order to lead us to the life of holiness, through the communion with the Holy Spirit.

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