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With my continuing search for info about Archimandrite Theoclitos; 2 edits of the original story have been made as of February 12, 2011
1.) the Saints Day for St Hierotheus is Oct, 16th not Sept 22nd
2.) that the Deacons, as they were dicribed originally, were actually Readers/Seminarians...
THE FORGOTTEN SAINT,
OF THE FORGOTTEN
Theokiltos Triantafillides, Thyoclitos Triantaphylides, Theocletos Triantaphiledes, Theoclitus Triantafilides...may be others)...what I have used is the most common, and what he actually used in his "Last Will".
The Right Reverend, Most Venerable
Archimandrite, Fr. Theoclitos Triantafilides
was the First Orthodox Priest in Texas. This picture did hang with Honor in the Church Congregation Hall of Saints Constantine and Helen Church in Galveston, Texas. It has been saved from “Hurricane IKE’s Destruction” (September 12, 2008), and will hang there again when the new hall is constructed soon. I live in Galveston, and I have been a part of the Church congregation since Baptism. My Mother was baptized by Archim. Fr. Theoclitos and was very proud to tell people of that fact until her death in 2001. I have studied everything I can find on this wonderful Priest over the years, including His Last Will, the Galveston Daily News and other Newspaper Archives, Ellis Island Immigration Records, the Rosenberg Public Library of Galveston, the Church Records (Slavonic, long-hand, written in Cyrillic), the Internet and I have relied a great deal on the local “folklore” stories told to me in my early years.
This is a picture I just recently found of
Archim. Fr. Theoclitos. He was younger
and the picture is almost the same pose.
HIS SIGNATURE: Interesting that he signed Archimandrite in Cyrillic and Theoclitos in Greek.
This was taken from the first time he signed the Church Records in 1896. The Church records can be
accessed at http://orthodoxgalveston.org/chruch_records.html ,they have
been copied into PDF files by our local web-master Christine Kovacevich...Thanks Christine
THE RIGHT REVEREND
MOST VENERABLE ARCHIMANDRITE
“Guided by Saints”
“Priest of Three Kings”
and the History of
Saints Constantine and Helen
Serbian Orthodox Church
IT’S HAS BEEN SAID….
1. His father was an Athenian Greek. When the first outbreaks of Greek Independence from the Ottoman Empire
started on the Peloponnese Peninsula, his father, a fisherman crossed onto the peninsula to join the forces of famed Greek General Theodoros Kolokotronis. Eight years later, when Independence was achieved (with great help from the Allied Russian, English and French Forces); he settled in Egio (one of the oldest cities in the Balkans), Peloponnese Peninsula, Greece.
At left, the Peloponese Peninsula is
a large Island like mass connected
to the Attica Peninsula (where Athens
is located) by a small strip of land to
the East. Egio is at the Northern end
of the peninsula.
2. Born in November of 1833, young Theodoros was named for the famed Greek General. They called him “Theos” and he celebrated his Name Day each October 16th (Julian Calendar in the 1800’s), on the Feast Day of St. Hierotheos (right), the Student of Saint Paul the Apostle, who in 53 A.D. became the First Bishop of Athens. Theodorus grew up fishing with his father, and spending time around the port; while his mother (a native of the Peloponnese Peninsula) pushed him to the Church. The era after Greek Independence was wrought with economic problems and the Armenians and Bulgarians had replaced the Ottomans as bankers and merchants, allowing our young Theos to become ever more acquainted with other cultures. Two-thirds of the population had vanished and the land was devastated.
3. His early schooling was in the Church of Panagia Trypiti (a. below) that is built inside a cavity of the cliff just 150 stair steps above the Port of Egio and he helped the Priests with all their duties, occasionally traveling into the local mountains to visit Agia Lavras Monastery (b. below), about 20 miles south and up in the mountains. Greek Independence had started there with Bishop Germanos’ Declaring Independence with his blessing of the troops. Earlier, the Ottomans had burned the Monastery, but it was reconstructed with help from the Russian Orthodox Church. Many of the Icons there were gifts from the Russian Monastery Panteleimon (c. below) on Holy Mt Athos and the Be-jeweled Gospel in the Monastery was printed, signed and given much earlier by Catherine the Great of Russia. History and multi-ethnic cultures literally surrounded him. As a young adult, he was Tonsured a Monk and was given the name Theoclitos. He soon traveled to Holy Mt Athos and was accepted as a resident of the Panteleimon Monastery, where he became fluent in Slavonic and studied Russian language and customs; and he made regular visits to the Serbian Monastery Hilandar (d. below) learning the Serbian language and customs. He had become fascinated with languages.
4. He was invited to complete a formal education and become a teacher at the Slavic Greek Latin Academy and Theological Seminary at Holy Trinity – St. Sergius Monastery, better known today as the Moscow Theological Academy, just outside Moscow, Russia. After Under-Graduate and Graduate Degrees in Theology in 1872, and a few years of teaching; he was called upon by the new Danish born King of Greece, George I, to tutor his son Prince George. Later, the King’s brother-in-law, Tzar Alexander III of Russia called upon him to tutor the Royal Family’s 6 children specifically in other Orthodox cultures including the Greek language. So, he became a Greek cultural teacher to the future Tzar Nicholas II of Russia, who was Canonized a Martyr Saint by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1991.
5. He taught classes as a visiting teacher from time to time at the Orthodox Ecclesiastical Seminaries of Volynia and Ekaterinoslav in the Ukraine.
6. It is also said, Fr. Theoclitos was one of the 30 or so clergyman serving at the wedding of Nicholas II and Alexandra Fyodorovna, also canonized a Martyr Saint by the Russian Orthodox Church in 2000.
The Parishioners of Galveston would later call him …
“The Priest of Three Kings”
GEORGE I ALEXANDER III NICHOLAS II
KING OF GREECE TZAR OF RUSSIA TZAR OF RUSSIA
1863-1913 1881-1894 1894-1917
It is known that with the outset of the American Civil War, a group of multi-ethnic Orthodox Christians were having regular prayer meetings in Galveston, as early as 1861, and they called themselves “the Parish of Sts. Constantine and Helen”. Galveston is a seaport, and its citizens were accustomed to our Eastern European and Mediterranean People. Our Eastern Orthodox Christians were always around the port. There were those that came, returned home and came back again.
The first known Serbian in America lived in Galveston for a long time; his name was Djordje Sagic (aka: Djordje Ribar and/or George Fisher, at right). He came to Texas in the late 1820’s after “jumping ship” (because of indentured servitude) in Philadelphia, and became the first Port Director of the Port of Galveston under the Mexican Government. He then became a Major in the Texas Revolutionary Army under General Sam Houston. He served in public office as City Councilman in Houston, Texas and Justice of the Peace in Harris County after the Texas Revolution. Sagic had studied for the Priesthood in Karlovci Serbia, but left the seminary to join the last efforts of the first Serbian uprising against the Ottoman Empire in 1813, lead by Serbian leader, Karageorge Petrovitch. He left the Galveston area in 1850 to ultimately retire in San Francisco, California as a Justice of the Peace and retained the status of the Official Greek Government Consul there until his death, in 1873. He knew 13 languages. He was also a leader in church activities at the Russian Orthodox Mission Cathedral there.
The First known Greek in Galveston participated in the Parish Church group. He called himself only by the name of Captain Nicholas. Captain Nicholas joined the notorious Privateer Jean Lafitte at the Battle of New Orleans supporting the victorious battle of Gen. Andrew Jackson over the British. After the battle, Captain Nicholas sailed with Lafitte and his men for Galveston, as Capitan of Lafitte’s prize schooner the Mirabella. Captain Nicholas sailed away from Galveston with Lafitte after burning everything they left behind. Captain Nicholas returned to Galveston after Lafitte’s death, becoming a farmer on west Galveston Island and recounting old pirate stories at the waterfront. He lived more than 100 years and is believed to have died in the Hurricane of 1900.
Hadji Ali, (right) was the first Lebanese/Syrian coming to Texas in 1856 at the port of Indianola, Texas,
about 30 miles west of Galveston. He came here as a part of the U. S. Army's "Camel Experiment", using camels prior to the Civil War to pack military equippment from Fort to Fort along the western frontier. He helped other Lebanesse immigrants travel to America in this army program. His father was muslin but his Greek Mother raised him as an Orthodox Christian. He was called "Hi Jolly by the soldiers and is a folklore figure in American Military History. In the 1870's he traveled to the Desert Southwest to mine gold and silver. He died in Arizona in 1902.
Some have said that with the pirate Lafitte came the first of many nationalities to the Galveston area, but I am unable to corroborate the "firsts" of any other Orthodox Christians.
During the late 1880’s and early 1890’s, Orthodox Christian Serbian, Greek, Russians, Bulgarian, and Arab (Lebanese/Syrian) immigrants to Galveston had organized and started gathering moneies for a church. Aside from the religious group, they each started several individual nationalistic groups. Each had separately written many petitions to their former Bishops back home for a Parish Priest and had received only denials; justified by the facts of distance and costs, but these denials were in some cases including the suggestion that they petition the Russian Orthodox Mission Diocese in North America. So the culture in Galveston was ripe for the addition of an Eastern European & Mediterranean Priest of Archim. Fr. Theoclitos’ stature.
Nicholas II became Tzar of Russia on November 26, 1894. The Romanov Royal Family had created and supported the Russian Orthodox Mission into North America thru Alaska since 1784.
AT THAT TIME, BECAUSE OF THE ROMANOV FAMILIES’ TRULY UN-MATCHED WEALTH, THE RUSSIAN MISSION INTO NORTH AMERICA WAS THE ONLY ORTHODOX JURISDITION ON THE CONTINENT PRIOR TO 1922.
So, the Slavs, headed by Risto Vukovich, and the Greeks headed by Athurs Menutis gathered and decided to petition the Russian Mission Diocese. They sent three telegrams written in Cyrillic and signed by Vukovich, Menutis, Christo Chuoke, Mitchael Mihaloudski, and Milosh Porobich which explained the diversity of the parishioners to; (1) the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, (2) Tzar Nicholas II personally, and (3) His Grace Bishop Nicholas in Sitka, Alaska. A short time later the parish board received a telegram personally from Tzar Nicholas II, stating his acceptance of their plea. The Tzar had a large Gospel Printed, all the Vestments and Liturgical necessities including a signed Antimens, and all the Icons for an Iconostas painted and assembled including the icon to be used for the name day of the future Church (His own Namesake, Saint Nicholas); and he chose his teacher Fr. Theoclitos to go to Galveston, telling him
“Let there be an Orthodox Church in Galveston”.
By this time, Fr. Theoclitos was 61 years of age, was a well traveled man and spoke more than a dozen languages; Greek, Russian, Serbian, Slavonic, Latin, Bulgarian, Arabic, Hebrew, Danish; and some Spanish, English, French, German, and Romanian. The Russian Ambassador to the United States acquired U. S Citizenship for him even before he left Russia. Prior to leaving Russia, Fr. Theoclitos was given the heavy cross he always wore by Tzar Nicholas II and he was elevated to the rank of Right Reverend Archimandrite, because he would soon be the Priestly leader of a flock of Christians so far away with little known chance of a visiting Bishop anytime soon. His journey to the far off land of Galveston, Texas began with six companions. With him were; the Very
Reverend Archimandrite Rafael Hawaweeny (at right, Glorified a Saint in March of 2000 by the Orthodox Church in America) and his three Readers Constantine Abu-Adal, Istvan Moldowanyi and John Shamiae (later Shamiae was a Priest in Galveston); and Archimandrite Fr. Theoclitos’ two Russian Readers, Joakim Zubkowsky, and Theodore Pashkowsky (in 1934 Pashkowsky would become Metropolitan Theophilus, pictured later in this work), and his Romanian Reader Pavel Grepashewsky; and Reader Peter I. Popoff (nephew of Bishop Nicholas Ziorov). First leg of the trip was by train to Berlin, serving liturgy there at the Russia Embassy Church; then on to the Port of Bremen. Next leg was by passenger ship to Southampton for a change of ships, then on to New York aboard the passenger ship, S.S Havel out of South Hampton, as a United States Citizen. Although a group of Priests were at the port of New York to greet them on the Morning of November 14, 1895, they were required by customs to spend one night in quarantine. The next morning, they were joined in New York by Bishop Nicholas Ziorov of the Russian Orthodox Mission in America (at left, who’s Diocesan headquarters were in Sitka, Alaska), to consecrate the First Arab-Syrian Orthodox Church in America under the Russian Mission’s jurisdiction, and to install Archimandrite Rafael as Pastor, with his three readers. A few days later, Archim. Fr. Theoclitos, his three Readers; and Reader Popoff traveled with Bishop Nicholas by train to Washington D.C., then to western Pennsylvania, and then on to Kansas City. At this point, it was decided that only the Romanian Reader Grepashewsky would travel to Galveston with Archim. Fr. Theoclitos; and Bishop Nicholas and the other two Readers would go on to San Francisco. Archim. Fr. Theoclitos stopped in Hartshorne, American Indian Territory, Oklahoma to have Liturgy for a group of Russian Miners, just outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma before reaching Galveston.
The distances from Galveston to either San Francisco or New York are about 1600 miles. Although his rightful rank was high, which gave him the right to consecrate his own chapel including the right to wear a Mitre (Crown, but with a flat, not standing Cross on top) and carry a Pastoral Staff (Crozier or Bishop’s Staff); he lived his life in Galveston as a meager Monk, teacher, and Pastoral Priest. The Church Congregation never paid Archim. Fr. Theoclitos, because he received his pay directly from the Tzar (1500 rubels a month and 500 rubels as expenses; about $120 total, at that time) until Archim. Fr. Theoclitos passed away in 1916, a year and a half before Tzar Nicholas II and his Family were murdered.
The Trustees of The Existing Congregation Board (Chris Vucovich, Chris Chuoke, Athurs Menutis and Mitchael Mihaloudski) formally received their State Corporation Papers on January 13, 1895 and subsequently purchased a 43’ wide x 120’ deep property that is at 4109 Avenue L, Galveston, Texas on December 15, 1895. They started to build a rectangular wood frame Orthodox styled Church, and when Archim. Fr. Theoclitos arrived, in January of 1896, he directed the finishing of the Church. The congregation was astonished to be blessed with an Archimandrite and a Reader, not just a Priest, and best of all he was somewhat of a lingguist.In Galveston, all properties faced either North-west or South-east, so they had chosen property that leaves our Church unusually facing South-east. And, although the Icon of Saint Nicholas was placed in the Iconostas to Honor Tzar Nicholas II as the Patron of the Church; it was Archim. Fr. Theoclitos’ decision to use the name Sts. Constantine and Helen Church, because the congregation that started on its own should be remembered. Bishop Nicholas was invited and he accepted; and the consecretion of our church occurred on June 3rd 1896, the Feast Day of S.S. Constantine and Helen.
Archim. Fr. Theoclitos’ decision on the name of the Church was not unusual with him. He was known to have baptized children with names other than their parents had asked for. My mother’s name was to be Ruza, Serbian for Rose, but he baptized her as Sophia which her parents accepted without question, and gave my mother and others an unusual lifelong connection to their Archimandrite; but then, his guidance and decisions were always accepted by his congregation. There have never been any questions of his guidance that were ever passed down thru the years even though we Eastern Europeans have always loved a good argument. He had services in the Slavonic, Greek and Arabic languages. It was as though his congregation was standing with a Saint.
In 1897, Archim. Fr. Theoclitos purchased a 36 plot track in the Lake View Cemetery as a gift to his Congregation. He buried his flock in the next consecutive plot, without regard to couples or children or any relationship; because he saw them as one congregational family.
In early 1897, Bishop Nicholas replaced Reader Grepashewsky with a young Russian Monk, Fr. Mikhail Kurdinovski to allow Archim. Fr. Theoclitos time to travel and invited Archim. Fr. Theoclitos to San Francisco to speak in the Greek language on the mounting losses of the Cretian insurgents in their revolution against Ottoman rule. Bishop Nicholas had to be acutely aware that his Archimandrite was the highest ranking Greek born Clergyman in America. While in route, we know that he also served Liturgy again in Oklahoma; and in Denver, Colorado. After his sermon in San Francisco he was asked to travel withFr. (later, Archimandrite) Sebastian Dabovich (right, currently being considered for Canonization as a Saint), to Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington, where they served Liturgy in Slavonic, Greek and Arabic in both cities. He again traveled to San Francisco in 1898, to participate in the installation of Bishop Tikon Belavin, as the new Bishop (left, Canonized a Saint by the Russia Orthodox Church in 1989), replacing Bishop Nicholas of the Aleutians and Alaska (Diocesan name was changed in 1900 to Diocese of the Aleutians and North America). At this time, Bishop Tikon appointed Archim. Fr Theoclitos as the Rector of the San Francisco Cathedral (the name of the Cathedral was Changed many times over the years) for a short period of time during 1898 and 1899. Although little is known about it, Bishop Tikon visited our parish in 1899, for the first of two visits. It appears that he came with Archim. Rafael Hawaweeny, to visit the growing Arab/Syrian population in the Houston Area.
As word spread along Archim. Fr Theoclitos' routes, that a multi-lingual Archimandrite was in Galveston, he was requested to visit many points along the Gulf Coast going as far east as Mobile, Alabama, as far south as Brownville, Texas, and into the interior north to Dallas-Ft. Worth, San Antonio, San Angelo and Austin Texas, performing Marriages and Baptisms and serving Liturgy where ever he found our Orthodox Christians. In 1898, The Wiemar, Texas newspaper had an article about him; where he borrowed the local Catholic Church in LaGrange, Texas to perform the wedding of a Greek Couple. The writer (obviously Protestant) posted the short article that follows.
Weimar Mercury, Weimar, Texas 29 Jan 1898
LaGrange, Tex., Jan. 25, --Married today, Mr, Abraham John to Miss Zeche Nemer, both Greek, at the Catholic Church by Rev. Theoclitos (Archimandrite of the Orthodox Church), Galveston, Tex. A very large crowd attended the ceremonies, which were “somewhat of a novelty”, no such ceremonies having ever been performed here.
Our Church Board additionally purchased a like adjoining property west of the Church doubling the size of the property in early 1900. But, in his 66th year, on September 8th 1900, Galveston Island was hit by the greatest natural disaster in United States history when the massive Hurricane of 1900 came ashore. The Island was almost totally destroyed (est. of 8,000 to 12,000 deaths of a population of 30,000, which included 24 members of the congregation. In the church records are the names of the following drowned: Mihailo Porobich with his wife Sofia and four children Sofia, Milica, Ilija and Alexandar; Vasil Porobich; Jovan Porobich with his wife Jovanka and their children, Angelina, Dushan and Danilo; Tripko Bashich; Vasil Moshich; Anna Chuoke and her child, Sofia Chuoke. “Their bodies were cremated and their ashes strewn into the ocean by the police”. It was signed by both Archimandrite Fr. Theoclitos and Fr. Mikhail Kurdinovski.
Modern Day Version Order of St. Anne
Of The Order of St. Vladimir Medallion (later version)
While in Galveston, Bishop Tikon visited the cemetery, and became aware that it was filling fast. As a gift to the Congregation, Bishop Tikon (who was later made Patriarch of Moscow, right), purchased 27
additional plots next to the original cemetery track. Arch. Fr. Theoclitos and the Church continued with a new influx of immigrants coming to Galveston each year, even purchasing another 21’ to the west of the Church.
The last time that I can document Archim. Fr Theoclitos traveling a great distance was in 1905, when he traveled to Pueblo, Colorado to serve for three weeks while the parish priest there was out visiting communities in the mountains of Colorado, Utah and points beyond.
Although he did keep constant communications with the Diocese, it is not clear whether he ever met with
He was known to include the Romanov Royal Family each week in the Liturgy, as: (1) word of Tzar Nicholas II’s son, Alexander’s affliction with hemophilia began to spread, (2) World War I was building and (3) talk of revolution against the Tzar was in the news from time to time. Also, because of our multi-ethnic culture in Galveston, the shot by Serbian Gavrilo Princip that assassinated Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, of Austria (believed to be the shot that started World War I), was heard loudly in our Church making the War and the assassination more than an important issue.
On weekly trips to the business district, the neighborhood children would gather on the church steps and wait for his return. He would always have a large bag full of fruit and the latest sweets for them, saving a large portion for his parish children. He became acquainted with many people during his years in Galveston and was thought of respectfully, while they became somewhat enchanted with his customary meager but stoic Orthodox Monastic ways. He was a constant visitor to St. Mary’s Infirmary (the local Catholic Hospital) and John Sealy Hospital at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Following his heart, as the Apostle St. Paul guided him through his Name Day St. Hierotheos, he was known to give Confession, Baptizism and Communion to anyone who professed to be Christian. He truly became a friend to many families, who felt his visits to their loved ones in the hospital made those loved ones better. He converted to Orthodoxy many of these families: the Dambido family, the Matthews family and the Lelirra family to name a few.
In 1911, the Galveston-Houston Inter-Urban Train was instituted, allowing many of our Orthodox Christians, 50 miles North in Houston, easy access to Galveston for Sunday Liturgy. Most all of our Lebanese and many of our Greek members had moved there by this time (even our Russian members were moving to the west coast). The trains were one or multiple electric cars that ran from downtown Houston to downtown Galveston, and you could get on or off at many stops along the way. So, our members could get off, then on again, less than 800 feet north of the Church on the main road into Galveston. It was still a 75 minute trip, one way, but it was an inexpensive way for our Houston parishioners to get to church from time to time. It was later discontinued in 1936.
And then, in his 81st year, the Island was hit by another devastating Hurricane in August of 1915. Again, Archim. Fr Theoclitos and others prayed in the Church. This storm was even more tenuous for them, but never was anyone in the church lost in any storm. The Church floated to the north about 50 feet into the street, and the front wall was torn open and the Gospel given by Tzar Nicholas II was found by parishioner George Mandich another 200’ away in the city cemetery across from the Church, miraculously with very little water damage. The congregation repaired the Church and moved it back into place with mule and muscle.
The parish again, needed more future graves. This time, as a religious benevolent society, they purchased their own private Cemetery in the western part of the city, about a quarter mile from the other cemetery. The land was far larger (would easily accommodate about 300 graves) and would meet their needs for long years into the future. But they also divided it into two sections, the Greeks to one side, and the Serbians and other Slavs on the other.
Later in the following year, the Church was hit by the loss of their 21 year life with Archim. Fr. Theoclitos, just short of his 83rd year, on October 22nd 1916. He had become gravely ill six weeks before. He somehow knew his time was near, and had the Diocese notified of his illness, and he asked parish leaders to find a way for them to bury him under the Altar of the Church. It was his belief that his grave would, by its nature, cause the Church to continue at the location for centuries into the future. He passed to his Creator at 8:15 in the evening, in St. Mary’s Infirmary Hospital. With the help of Church leaders, his body was prepared by Malloy & Sons Funeral Home, but the parishioners then took the body to the church and stood vigil over his remains continually, until hisFuneral. The New Archbishop Evdokim of New York (left) ordered his Diocesan Secretary, Archpriest Fr. Peter I. Popoff (who had been one of Archim. Fr. Theoclitos’ companions on the trip from Russia), and two others of his Diocesan Council members; Fr. Louniky Kraskoff of Denver, Colorado (whom he had visited with on trips to San Francisco) and Hieromonk Fr. Paul Chubaroff of Hartshorne, Oklahoma to immediately travel to Galveston so that Our Beloved Archimandrite would be religiously cared for. They finally arrived in Galveston six days later, on the morning of October 28th. Hierarchical Funeral Services were held that afternoon at 2:00 P.M. During the six week wait, the Parish Board had received permission from the County Judge to place his remains under the Church’s Altar and workers prepared the Concrete Vault that was required by the Judge for his casket to be encased, where it remains today. As Archim. Fr. Theoclitos requested in his will, his Cross and his Medals were all taken to Archbishop Evdokim by Archpriest Popoff.
The Funeral of the Right Reverend Archimantrite Father Theoclitos Triantafildes
To the front and left of the casket is Archpriest Fr. Peter I. Popoff. To the rear
of the casket is Fr. Louniky Kraskoff (left) and Hieromonk Fr. Paul Chubaroff (right).
(More Old Pictures are at a Lower Portion of This Article)
In the following years our Church was served by numerous short-term or as they were called in those days, traveling Priests. After the revolution in Russia the Diocese found itself in much turmiol and was unable to provide our church with a Priest, so the congregation petitioned the Serbian Missionary Bishop Nikolai, and as a courtesey, he provided priests for our chuch from 1927 to 1929. In 1929, the parishioners, spear-headed by Petar B. Kovacevich, built a wood frame Hall (32’ X 75’) with a parish home above, in hopes of having a Priest and his family, stay in Galveston. It helped, but, in 1933, our Greek brethren gathered and purchased their own Church, The Assumption of The Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church. Our parishes have helped each other thru the years, whenever either was without a Priest or there was a time of need, as our Archim. Fr. Theoclitos would expect of us.
The Hierarchs of the Church in those years were Archbishop Alexander, Metropolitan Platon, and Metropolitan Theophilus
In 1934, Fr. Alexis Revera and his family arrived in Galveston and stayed for 27 years. In 1948, the The footings were all reinforced, the interior was totally painted, Stain Glass windows were added, hard wood flooring, a new roof coving, and the old siding was covered with a light brown brick; work was completed in 1949. The parish petitioned the Diocese, and in 1950, the newly elected Metropolitan Leonty (left), traveled to our fare city to re-consecrate the Church. Air-conditioning was added in 1960.
In 1962, it had become apparent that the community was almost totally made up ofMetropolitan Leonty and Bishop Dionisije (right) of the Serbian Diocese met and sealed an agreement that put our beloved Church under the Serbian Diocese, while the Russian Diocese would receive under its control the Church in Billings, Montana, which was started by Serbian Bishop Nikolai (Canonized a Saint by the Serbian Orthodox Synod in 2003, left) and Archimandrite Fr. Sabatian Dobovich; but had over the years become almost totally Russian. They further agreed to guide these two parishes to remain multi-ethic and services were to be in both English and Slavonic and should include a litany of any other languages when needed for other ethnic parishioners.
In 1964, the Texas Highway Department was working on plans to expand the street next to the cemetery into a 6 lane highway. They were intending to put an over-pass over the Serbian Section. Two parish leaders, Ilija P. Kovacevich and John N. Milosevich went to the highway department with their plan to move the Serbian Section at the Highway Department’s expense. The Highway Department agreed. So, it became the work of parishioners; lead by local Constable and parishioner Sam Popovich to get every relative of a loved one in the Serbian section to sign the necessary papers. The highway department would provide 6 times the land they were taking and would bare all expenses of exhumation and reburial; where a solid caskets or a vault was not found, the earthen material would be placed in a vault to be transported; and the Priest would attend and be paid for a service of exhumation and re-burial for each grave. The new cemetery is much like a Church with a center aisle and rows of graves to each side; withsmall side-walks between the rows and an Alter table at the front.
In 1978 our Parish came under the Jurisdiction of one of it’s own, Serbian Bishop Christopher. The First American Born Bishop to serve an American Diocese. He was born and raised in Galveston and had been ordained a Priest of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1949 (right). With his leadership, the congregation has prospered through the past 30 years, with him being elevated to Metropolitan in 1991.
Now we have been hit by another devastating Hurricane “IKE”, which came ashore on September 12th 2008. Our Church sustained minor damage with only a few inches of water inside and some wind damage (no doubt that our Archim. Fr. Theoclitos mystically was riding out the storm in his Sanctuary). But our Hall was in 3 feet of water. The old wood frame structure was left structurally unsound. The Parish decided to fix the Church first. We then had the old hall destroyed, and are planning to break ground on a new hall in early 2010. Our Greek Brothers and Sister, didn’t fare as well, their beautiful Church was inundated with 8 feet of seawater. The masonry Church and hall structurally survived, but the interiors didn’t make it. They are without a Priest, but have managed to somewhat re-do their Church and areDuring this time, they have attended Liturgy on Sundays with us, and now that their Church is presentable, our priest Fr. Serjan Veselinovich has liturgy on Saturdays for them.
In 2009 our parish was placed under the jurisdiction of His Grace, Serbian Bishop Longin (left), ending an over 40 year schism in the Serbian Orthodox Church in America. Interestingly, His Grace Bishop Longin and Archim. Fr. Theoclitos, both received Graduate Degrees in Theology from the Moscow Theological Academy at Holy Trinity – St. Sergius Monastery (name changed to Zagorsk Monastery in 1930).
Archim. Fr. Theoclitois would be exceedingly proud that his Blessed Parish would produce one of its own, Velimir P. Kovacevich, who in 1991 became the First American Born Serbian Metropolitan,
His Eminence, The Most Blessed Reverend Metropolitan Christopher (right).
150 years after the first parish meeting in Galveston, Texas, we beseech Our Archimandrite Father Theoclitos Triantafilides; his friends Archimandrite Saint Rafael Hawaweeny and Archimandrite Sebastian Dabovich; Our Patrons Saint Tzar Nicholas II and Saint Trazistza Alexandra, Our First Metropolitan and Patriarch Saint Tikon Belavin, our first Serbian American Bishop Saint Nikolai Velimirovich and all those who with the Saints have guided our Parish in their goodness, to intercede on our behalf for yet another Century of existence.
Extreme Post Script:
In retrospect, this writer remains in awe, that
The Right Reverend,
Most Venerable Archimandrite,
Father Theoclitos Triantafilides
He was the answer to our predecessors
every prayer. He traveled extensively on
a global basis to serve the religious needs
of many. He provided the
for our multi-ethnic American lives.
Through the Teachings of Orthodoxy
and his God-Given Art of Language;
he lead us on the path of
Saint Paul the Apostle,
past the ever separating ethnic divide.
It is Known that Archimandrite Father Theoclitos performed
Marriages, Baptisms and Celebrated Liturgy in the following locations in America.
City/Town Aprox. Distance
New York, New York 1416 miles
Washington, D.C. 1213 miles
Hartshorne, Oklahoma 380 miles
Dallas, Texas 269 miles
Ft. Worth, Texas 281 miles
San Angelo, Texas 363 miles
New Braunfels, Texas 199 miles
La Grange, Texas 132 miles
Galveston, Texas 0 miles
Houston, Texas 50 miles
Beaumont, Texas 90 miles
Eagle Lake, Texas 93 miles
Seattle, Washington 1937 miles
Portland, Oregon 1881 miles
San Francisco, California 1686 miles
Denver, Colorado 1080 miles
New Orleans, Louisiana 287 miles
Lake Charles, Louisiana 117 miles
Mobile, Alabama 414 miles
Biloxi, Mississippi 362 miles
Port Lavaca, Texas 122 miles
Polacios, Texas 86 miles
Brownsville, Texas 396 miles
Corpus Christi, Texas 181 miles
San Antonio, Texas 216 miles
Waco, Texas 209 miles
Austin, Texas 191 miles
Pueblo, Colorado 968 miles
Cameron, Louisana 81 miles
Rockport, Texas 154 miles
Indianola, Texas 35 miles
Brazos, Texas 60 miles
Sabine, Texas 75 miles
Cameron, Texas 190 miles
Approximate total missionary miles of work……..over 25,000
“by train or horse and buggie”
31 locations in 11 States in 21 Years
From 1895 -2010, the Church-School Congregation of Sts. Constantine and Helen was been served by the following priests:
Archimandrite Theoclitos Triantafildes (Greek) 1896-1916
Reader Pavel Grepashewsky (Romanian) 1896-1897
Fr. Mikhail Kurdinovski (Russian) 1897-1903
Father Michael Andriates (Greek) 1916-1918
Father John Shamiae (Lebonese) 1918-1920
Father George Palamarchuk (Russian) 1920-1925
Father Marko Dimitrieff (Russian) 1925-1926
Father Pavel Markovich (Serbian) 1927-1928
Father George Milosavljevich (Serbian) 1928-1929
Father Joakim Tkoch (Russian) 1929-1932
Father Nikola Kovalchukov (Former Russian Naval Officer) 1932-1934
Father Alexis Revera (Russian) 1934-1961
Father Damaskin Susjnar (Serbian) 1961-1965
Iguman Mitrofan Kresejovich (Serbian) 1965-1968
Father Jovan Trisich (Serbian) 1968-1969
Father, Dr. Tihomir Pantich (Serbian) 1969-1971
Father Constantine Pazalos (Serbian), (Greek Born) 1971-1982
Father Svetozar Veselinovich (Serbian) 1982-1985
Father Zarko Mirkovich (Serbian) 1985-1987
Father Dragan K. Veleusic (Serbian) 1987-1992
Father Oleg Vifliantsev (Serbian), (Russian Born) 1992-1994
Father Dane Popovich (Serbian) 1994-1994
Father Dejan Tiosavljevich (Serbian) 1994-1995
Father Serjan Veselinovich (Serbian) 1995-Present
Other Pictures Concerning Our Church
This picture appeared in the Thirty-Fifth Anniversary Booklet...in 1931.
Risto Vukovich with his best friend Kristo Chuoke (co-founders) worked tirelessly in the late 1880's & early 1890's to have a Church. Their efforts will never be forg otten. Together they served as local hosts to our Serbian People as nthey came to Galveston to settle. Both were from Herzegovina. Chuoke in 1885 and Vucovich in 1887.
Lazar Vuchtich was the first Montenegrin who came to Galveston in 1894
and joined with Chuoke and Vucovich in their efforts to build a Church. His primary focus was to encourage other Montenegrins to settle in Galveston.
Co-Founder of Sts. Constantine and Helen Church Mr. Christo Chouke in front of his Grocery Store at ....circa 1900.....and his portrait... circa 1910.....
I am told this is a portraitof the men's club.....but that is the only info I have.
This map was made after the 1900 Storm....the green line is the debri line....everything east, west and south of the debri line was destroyd....the debri piled up at the debri line......our Church is located at the X, on the edge of the debri line.....
Another picture of the Church men's club, believed to be the celebration of the Church's Saints Day...circa 1900..
Father Michael Andrites
served us from 1916 - 1918
A picture I found in a San Francisco Chronicle Article of Father John Shamiae..who served in Galveston
from part of 1918 to part of 1920....it was common for Americans to call the Syrian Church, Oriental at the time.
The Funeral of Lazo Chuoke, February 1924,
the Priest is Father George Palamarchuk
(I pulled this picture out of a group
picture i found...Yes, I know it's poor)
Father George Milosavljevich,
He was sent to Galveston, by Serbian
Bishop Nikolia after the Russian Bishop
told us he could not provide
us with a priest...
Memorial Service for King Alexander I of Yugoslavia.
The Wedding of Mitchell & Josephine Chuoke
Iconastas after Hurricane IKE
right & left...
The Lakovich Family circa 1923 ?
Mary Kris (Mara) Lakovich , Johanna (Jovanka)Lakovich , Kristo Lakovich , Stana Lakovich [I believe Stana was pregnant with Leo (Ilija) Lakovich], Vida Lakovich , and Sam (Sava, He was born on "Savin Dan") Lakovich.
Ilija Kovacevich and Rista Kovacevich (eldest Brother and Mother of Metropolitan Christopher),
Bishopr Firmilian, & Mitchell Chouke and his wife Helen. circa 1976.
SERB NATIONAL FEDERATION - ST. SAVA ONOGOST LODGE #158 Front Row: George P Kovacevich, Tripo Mitrovich, Petar Kovacevich,
Spacia Chetkovich, Vukosava Sabanovich, Jovan Sabanovich, Stoya Kesel, Pavle Chushcoff. Second Row: Branko Popovich, Ilija P Kovacevich,
Zora (Andrich) Godinich, Rosalie Kovacevich, Georganna Mandich, Ljubica Mandich, Gospova Popovich, Bernice Kovacevich, Dosti Kesel.
Third Row: Mitchell Chuoke, Sam Popovich, Janko P Kovacevich, James Chushcoff, Vojo Sabanovich, Nick Kesel, Dusan Kovacevich, Dan P Kovacevich.
LADIES CLUB of STS. CONSTANTINE AND HELEN SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH First Row: Stoja Kesel, Spacia Chetkovich,
Vukosava Sabanovich, Stana Lakovich, Rista Kovacevich, Mary Chuoke, Maria Lalich. Second Row: Popadija Emelia Revera, Elena Pernyat,
Josephine Chuoke, Helen Chuoke, Dollye Vucovich, Seja Mandich, Johanna Lakovich, Jewel Lalosevich, Mary Kovacevich. Third Row:
Veska Chushcoff, Spacia Popovich, Adele Mitrovich, Zorka Vucetick, Mary Bulaich, Plana Andrich, Ljubica Kesel, Eleanor Kovacevich,
Nathalie (Bulaich) Kovacevich, Dosti (Kesel) Hildebrand. (circa 1946)
PLAM SUNDAY 1934 or 35 ?
Congregation of Sts. Constantine And Helen Serbian Orthodox Church Small Children on Front Row: Vida K Rector, Gladys Sanbanovich,
John Sabanovich, Elena Popovich, Blazo Kovacevich, Sam P Sabanovich, Georganna Mandich, Helen Kovacevich, Eugene Revera, Janko Kovacevich,
John Bulaich. Second Row: Petar Kovacevich, Dan Kovacevich, James Chushcoff, Gladys Popovich, Faith Revera, Ljubica Mandich, Rosalie Kovacevich,
Annace Kovacevich, Zorka Vuckovich, Dorothy Vuckovich, Helen Bulaich. Third Row: Mitar Tusup, Mary Ella Mandich, Nick Kovacevich, Elenor Chuchcoff, George Kovacevich, Kosto Lalich, Jovan Sabanovich, Mitchell Vuckovich, Ilija Kovacevich, Gospava Kovacevich, Marie Kovacevich, Nick Sabanovich,
Mitar Bugar. Fourth Row: Popadia Emiela Revera holding her daughter Hope Revera, Unknown, Maria Lalich, Ilinka Inasich, Paul Chuchcoff,
Father Alexis Revera, Vijo Sabanovich, Lazar Vucetich, Nick Kesel, Maxim Chetkovich, Helen Kesel, Donnie Sabanovich, Zora Kesel, Mary Bulaich.
Fifth Row: Mrs. Gjeronovich, Tomo Popovich, Sophia Popovich, Zorka Vucetich, Maria Lalich, Ann Sabanovich, Stoja Kesel, Marica Vucetich, Bob Chuoke.
St.Sava Ologost Lodge (circa 1957 or 58)
First Row: Paul Chushcoff. Stoya Kesel, Charlie Bojanich (SNF National Pres.), Tripo Mitrovich, John Milosevich, Jovan Vuckovich.
Second Row: Bob Popovich, Ilija Kovacevich, Sveto Andrich, Dan Kesel, Blazo Kovacevich, Milton Mitrovich, John Vuckovich, Jr.
St Sava Ologost, Junior Order (circa 1958)
First Row: Christine Kovacevich, Joanne Kovacevich, Dianne Kovacevich, Sandra Popovich, Karen Kovacevich, Suzanne Hildebrand, Steve Popovich,
Mark Popovich, Pete Kovacevich. Second Row: Dan Popovich, Bubba Giusti, Mary Ann Kovacevich, Rita Ann Kovacevich, Patricia Kovacevich,
Mitch Kovacevich,Mimo Milosevich, Paul Kovacevich. Third Row: Elaine Mitrovich, Beverly Giusti, Sandra Giusti, Paul Chushcoff, Cindy Wiles, Nick Milosevich.
Father Damaskin Susjnar (Serbian) 1961-1965
Iguman Mitrofan Kresejovich
Father Constantine Pazalos, although he was
of Greek parents, he was ordained and served as
a Serbian Priest 1971-1982
Father Dragan K. Veleusic (Serbian)