Bishop Raphael (Hawaweeny, born in 1860 in Damascus, died in 1915 in New York), is particularly revered by the Russian Orthodox Church and other Orthodox churches in America. He was an eminent ecclesiastical and social figure in the early 20 th century in Brooklyn, NY, and in the US in general. He was born in Syria, graduated from Halki Seminary and Kiev Theological Academy, taught at Kazan Theological Academy and was the rector of a church in Moscow. During his service in America, he united Orthodox Christians of various backgrounds under his omophorion.
The fact that the anniversary of his death was celebrated at St John the Forerunner Church in Brooklyn is particularly noteworthy, as this church likewise gathers Orthodox Christians of various nationalities together for prayer.
On April 24, 2015, Metropolitan Hilarion officiated at the celebrations, joined by His Grace Bishop Jerome, Protopriest Alexander Belya, Senior Priest of the Cathedral and Dean of New York; Protopriest Thomas Zain, Senior Priest of St Nicholas Antiochian Cathedral in Brooklyn; Protopriest George Kallaur, Rector of the Church of the Mother of God “Unexpected Joy” in Staten Island, NY; Protopriest Mark Burachek, Rector of Our Lady of Kazan Orthodox Church in Newark, NJ; Hieromonk Photios (Ulanov) of Intercession Russian Orthodox Church in Glen Cove, NY; Hieromonk Tikhon (Gayfudinov), cell-attendant of Metropolitan Hilarion; Deacon Peter Utkin of St John Cathedral and Deacon George Temidis, member of the Eastern American Diocesan Council of ROCOR.
An icon of St Raphael of Brooklyn was placed in the center of the church; it was painted especially to mark this anniversary by monks of the Kiev Monastery of the Caves. The celebrations began with the consecration of this icon by Vladyka Hilarion.
Then, under the magnificent singing of the cathedral choir, an akathist was read to St Raphael in two languages: Church Slavonic and English.
Fr Photios, Professor of Philosophy at City University of New York, delivered a lecture titled “The Life, Work and Significance of St Raphael,” attended by all the clergymen, parishioners and guests.
The event concluded with a festive dinner during which the clerics shared expressions of joy at this opening event of the celebrations of St Raphael.
On May 2, the feast day of the Translation of the Relics of St Matrona of Moscow, at the request of the priest, warden and parishioners of St John Cathedral and with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, Antiochian Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America, a portion of the relics of St Raphael was brought to St John the Baptist Cathedral by Fr Thomas. St Raphael was in fact the founder of St Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn.
On May 3, the celebrations of St Raphael’s jubilee concluded at St John the Baptist Cathedral, the saint’s relics already there. Many people from the New York area came to venerate them. Metropolitan Hilarion celebrated Divine Liturgy.
Fr Alexander greeted Vladyka Metropolitan at the cathedral and delivered a few words to those in attendance, expressing gratitude to the Firest Hierarch for his blessing of and participation in this great event. Fr Alexander also shared his thanks for the visit to the cathedral by Metropolitan Hilaron and his clergymen.
Participating in this service were Fr Alexander; Archimandrite John (Modzalevsky) of the Diocese of Moscow; Priest Konstantin Gavrilkin, a clergyman of the cathedral; Fr Photios; Fr Tikhon; Protodeacon Vadim Gan of the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady “of the Sign”; Protodeacon Daniel Puchkov of the Moscow Diocese and Deacon Peter.
The Primate of ROCOR then congratulated everyone on participating in the celebrations and expressed thanks to the rector, warden, singers, parishioners and guests.