St. Thekla & St. Raphael Pilgrimage is Sept. 20-22
His Grace Bishop Thomas writes:
There are few places in the United States where you can visit the grave and shrine of a saint of the Church. Did you know that the Antiochian Village is one of those places? Saint Raphael, Bishop of Brooklyn, the Good Shepherd of the Lost Sheep of America, is buried on the grounds of the Antiochian Village. This year we are expanding the focus of our Annual Pilgrimage to not only include our prayers for the intercession of St. Thekla, but also we will pray the Service of Supplication to St. Raphael that he may intercede on our behalf before the throne of God.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon, and educated in Damascus Syria, Halki, Turkey, and Kiev, Russia, Raphael Hawaweeny found himself virtually exiled in Kazan, Russia. He was making himself of use on the faculty of a school, when he was summoned to the New World by the Syrian Orthodox Benevolent Committee in New York City.
Immigrating in 1895 and serving under the aegis of the Russian Orthodox Mission—then the only established Orthodox hierarchy—he was technically pastor of St. Nicholas Church (later Cathedral) in Brooklyn, NY, but was, in fact, the roving pastor of several dozen tiny, isolated communities spread thinly across the continent.
As a priest he crossed the continent repeatedly in the course of nine years, and did so several more times after being consecrated Bishop of Brooklyn—the first such Orthodox consecration in North America—in 1905. He established a journal, al-Kalimat, to spread "The Word" to places he could not himself be, and worked diligently at translating Greek liturgical books into Arabic. These he distributed at his own expense to communities throughout the Middle East and to émigrés in the Americas, Africa, and Australasia, greatly helping preserve Orthodox Christianity in those regions.
He departed this earthly life in 1915 and was canonized by the Orthodox Church in America in 2000.