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Church Remembers St. Raphael on the Anniversary of His Repose

St. Raphael's ReposeSt. Raphael's ReposeFebruary 27th, is the 95th anniversary of the repose of our Father among the Saints, St. Raphael of Brooklyn. Holy Hierarch Raphael, pray unto God for us! Read about his passing on

Raphael Hawaweeny was born on November 8, 1860, in Beirut, Lebanon. Raphael attended the Greek Orthodox Theological School in Halki, Turkey; then traveled to Russia to further his studies at the Kiev Theological Academy. He was ordained a priest in 1889 and assigned to pastor the Antiochian Patriarchal Embassy in Moscow. He came know to the Arab communities in America as they sought his leadership. Bishop Nicholas of the North American diocese also went to Russia to recruit him and other missionaries. They arrived in America on November 14, 1895.

After just five months in America, he set out on the first of several missionary journeys by rail across and up and down the United States, Canada, and Mexico, seeking out Arabic-speaking Orthodox Christians and establishing parishes. He could and did serve the entire Divine Liturgy in perfect Arabic, Greek, Russian, or English; but, when Bishop Raphael saw the young people of the Church drifting away because they did not understand Arabic, he insisted that Sunday School instruction, the Divine Liturgy, and other services be in English.

He worked with Isabel Hapgood to prepare the famous English language Service Book that was published under the direction of Bishop Tikhon in 1906.

The Holy Synod of Antioch made more attempts to lure him back to the Middle East, offering him lucrative dioceses; but he steadfastly declined, declaring that his work in America was not yet complete. By 1909, when his health failed and he became bed-ridden due to his tireless labors, he had established more than thirty parishes. Bishop Raphael fell asleep in the Lord on February 27, 1915, at the age of 54. His flock mourned for him bitterly. He was canonized a saint by the Orthodox Church in America on May 29, 2000, at St. Tikhon’s Seminary, New Canaan, Pennsylvania. He was glorified as the “Good Shepherd of the Lost Sheep in America.” 

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