Archive for the ‘John Ireland’ Tag

Feast of St. Alexis Toth (May 6)   2 comments

Above:  St. Alexis Toth

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ALEXIS GEORGEIVICH TOTH (MARCH 18, 1854-MAY 7, 1909)

Russian Orthodox Priest and Defender of Orthodoxy in America

“The Father of Orthodoxy in America”

Also known as Saint Alexis of Wilkes-Barre

His feast transferred from May 7

The feast day of St. Alexis Toth in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) is May 7.  However, that date on this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Witnesses, is fully booked already.  He is also a saint in the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the U.S.A. (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople), formed in 1938, in opposition to the Latinization of ethnic Roman Catholicism in the United States.

Toth, born into an Eastern Rite Roman Catholic family, ultimately became a Russian Orthodox priest and a missionary in the United States of America.  He debuted near Eperjes, Hungary, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Kobylnice, Slovakia), on March 18, 1854.  His Carpatho-Russian family was poor.  Ordained ministry also ran in the family.  Our saint was the nephew of a Uniate bishop and the son of George Toth, a Uniate priest.  St. Alexis’s mother was Cecilia Toth.  St. Alexis, educated well, mastered Carpatho-Russian, Hungarian, Russian, German, and Latin.  He also read Greek.  Our saint, husband of Rosalie Mihalich, became a Uniate priest on April 18, 1878.  Shortly thereafter, Rosalie and the couple’s sole child died.

St. Alexis served in Europe until late 1889.  He was secretary to the Bishop of Presov, diocesan administrator, director of an orphanage, and Professor of Church History and Canon Law at Presov Seminary.  Our saint, appointed to a Ruthenian Greek Catholic parish in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in October 1889, arrived the following month.

St. Alexis clashed with John Ireland, the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis (1888-1918).  Ireland was a proponent of the cultural assimilation of Roman Catholics (many of whom were immigrants or of immigrant stock) in the United States of America.  He was, therefore, hostile to ethnic parishes and non-Latin Rite clergymen.  Ireland refused to permit our saint to function as a priest in the diocese.  Ireland was not unique in his hostility of Eastern Rite Catholicism; other American bishops shared it.  St. Alexis convened a meeting of about ten Uniate priests in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in October 1890.  This gathering preceded the expansion of Russian Orthodoxy in the United States.  St. Alexis and 361 parishioners converted to Orthodoxy in Minneapolis on March 25, 1891.  Vladimir, Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska (1887-1891), received them.  More Unitate conversions to Orthodoxy in the United States followed.  The parish (now St. Mary’s Cathedral) in Minneapolis formally joined the Diocese of the Aleutians and Alaska in 1892.

Above:  St. Mary’s Cathedral, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Image Source = Google Earth

St. Alexis endured many hardships.  These included hostility and financial difficulty.  The parish and the priest were poor; he worked in a bakery until the Russian Orthodox diocese began to pay his salary.  Despite financial hardship, St. Alexis helped those less fortunate than himself and donated to funds for seminary scholarships and the construction of church buildings.

Bishop Vladimir and his successors, including St. Tikhon (1898-1907) and Platon (1907-1914, 1922-1934), sent St. Alexis to preach to Slavic people in the United States.  Our saint founded parishes and facilitated the conversion of many Uniates to Orthodoxy.  He helped to build up what eventually became the Orthodox Church in America (OCA).  St. Alexis, offered the episcopate in 1907, declined.  He encouraged the appointment of a younger and healthier man.

St. Alexis’s health made its terminal turn in late 1908.  He ultimately returned to Wilkes-Barre.  Our saint, bed-ridden for two months, died on May 7, 19089.  He was 55 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 23, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GREGORY THE ILLUMINATOR AND ISAAC THE GREAT, PATRIARCHS OF ARMENIA

THE FEAST OF MEISTER ECKHART, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN AND MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF SAINT METODEJ DOMINICK TRCKA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1959

THE FEAST OF SAINT VICTORIAN OF HADRUMETUM, MARTYR AT CARTHAGE, 484

THE FEAST OF SAINT WALTER OF PONTOISE, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND ECCLESIASTICAL REFORMER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Saint Alexis Toth,

whom you called to preach the Gospel in the United States of America.

Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom,

that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 96 or 96:1-7

Acts 1:1-9

Luke 10:1-9

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 716

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++