- Saturday | February 27, 2021
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Raphael of Brooklyn
Raphael of Brooklyn, born Rufāʾīl Hawāwīnī (Raphael Hawaweeny; November 20, 1860 – February 27, 1915), was bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church, auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn, vicar of the Northern-American diocese, and head of the Antiochian Levantine Christian mission. He was the first Orthodox Christian bishop consecrated on American soil.
He was born in Beirut, modern-day Lebanon, to Damascene Syrian parents of the Antiochian Orthodox faith who had come to Beirut fleeing a massacre of Christians in Damascus. He was first educated at the Damascus Patriarchal School that had become the leading Greek Orthodox institution of higher learning in the Levant under the leadership of Joseph of Damascus. He furthered his study of Christian theology at the Patriarchical Halki seminary in Constantinople, and at the Theological Academy in Kiev, Russian Empire (now Ukraine).
Father Raphael was sent to New York City in 1895 by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia to administer the local Orthodox Christian community which then included mainly Russian, Greek, and Levantine immigrants.
In 1904 he became the first Orthodox bishop to be consecrated in North America; the consecration was performed in New York City by Archbishop Tikhon (Bellavin) and Bishop Innocent (Pustynsky). He served as Bishop of Brooklyn until his death.
During the course of his ministry as an auxiliary bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in America, Raphael founded the present-day cathedral of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, established twenty-nine parishes and assisted in the founding of Tikhon's Orthodox Monastery.
Father Raphael founded the official magazine of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, The Word, in 1905 in Arabic.