Western Rite Orthodoxy – A Brief Timeline

Western Liturgical forms set by 6th century and codified by Pope St. Gregory the Great (Diologus) (+604)

c.860 AD Ss. Cyril & Methodius arrive in Moravia and begin their mission using a Western Liturgy there.

985 Western Rite Benedictine Monastery founded on Mount Athos. Lasted until 1287.

~ Some 600 year gap ~

1865 Rev. Dr. Joseph J. Overbeck; a priest of Rome, Theology Prof. At Bonn, living in London converted and petitioned the Russian Holy Synod at St. Petersburg for permission to use the Latin Liturgy.

Sept. 1869 Russian Holy Synod authorized the use of the Latin Liturgy and the Benedictine offices.

1870-71 Old Catholic Schism

Aug. 1879 Dr. Overbeck went to Constantinople to request their approval.

1882 Patriarch and Synod of Constantinople approved the use of the Latin Liturgy and Benedictine offices as had Russia, but with the provision that other Orthodox Patriarchs needed to approve as well.

1890 or early 1891 Bishop Vladimir (Sokolovsky) of Alaska, the American representative of the Moscow Patriarchate formally received a parish of Swiss Old Catholics and Dyckesville, near Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

1892, in the Spring, Bishop Nicholas (Ziorov) the new successor to Bishop Vladimir made a pastoral visit to the Dyckesville – Fond du Lac parish.

1898 A Western Rite Diocese was organized in Czechoslovakia under the Russian Synod. After the WWI, Bishop Gorazd Pavlik was received into Orthodoxy in Prague and headed up that diocese until its destruction during WWII. (Bishop Gorazd is commemorated as a martyr +Sept. 4, 1941)

1904 At the request of St. Raphael (Hawaweeny), Bishop of Brooklyn, the Russian Holy Synod approved the use of the Liturgy from the 1892 American BCP with extensive additions from the 1869 Western Rite Liturgy.

1911 Bishop Arnold Harris Matthew, the Old-Catholic Bishop of London, was received into Orthodoxy along with his entire diocese, by Met. Gerassimus (Messara) of Beirut, acting on behalf of the Patriarch of Antioch. The Patriarch of Alexandria also formally recognized Bishop Matthew and his Diocese. He published The Torch, which advocated Western Rite Orthodoxy.

1922 Met. Gerassimus (Messara) came to America with his Archdeacon Anthony Bashir. His staff hangs on the wall in St. Mary’s Bay Ridge Brooklyn.

1926, August 8, Bishop Alexis of Grodno was received along with several parishes in Poland. Extinguished during WWII.

Feb. 2, 1927, The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church in America authorized the formation of the “American Jurisdiction” which included a Western Rite missionary outreach. Under the direction of Archbishop Aftimios (Ofeish) of Brooklyn.

Sept. 29, 1932, Bishop Ignatius (Nichols) consecrated by Archbishop Aftimios (Ofeish), Joseph (Zuk), and Sophronios (Beshara), in New York. Titled Bishop of Washington and given oversight of the Western Rite parishes. 1934 made Archbishop by a decree of the Holy Synod of Moscow.

1933-34: Archbishop Aftimios retired 1933.  Bishop Joseph and Bishop Sophronios died in 1934. The Cleveland sobor of 1934 separated the Russian Church in this country from Moscow formally. The Western Rite Diocese was de-facto independent.

March 6, 1936 Holy Orthodox Church in America was incorporated in the State of New York by Archbishop Ignatius in order to provide for the security, preservation and continuance of the parishes.

Nov. 12, 1936 Met. Sergius (Stragorodsky), later Patriarch of Moscow, received 1500 French Western Rite Faithful into Orthodoxy. In 1960 some of these were under the Synod of the Russian Church outside of Russia. Others were received into the Romanian Patriarchate.

Feb. 6, 1947, Archbishop Ignatius died, succeeded by Bishop Alexander.

1953, Bishop Alexander and 3 parishes of this Western Rite received “on probation” by Metropolitan Anthony (Bashir).

May, 1958, Patriarch Alexander III of Antioch requested Met. Anthony to welcome these parishes into the Archdiocese. He forwarded the 1936 Ukaz of the Russian Synod saying “take the same action”.

Aug. 1958, Met. Anthony issued his “Western Rite Edict”.

Holy Week 1961 Chrismations and ordinations took place bringing the parishes into the Archdiocese. Alexander Turner Vicar General until his death Sept. 27, 1971.

Western Rite Commission appointed: Rev. John Meyendorff, V. Rev. Alexander Schmemann, Rev. Paul Schneirla, (all of St. Vladimir faculty) and V. Rev. Stephen Upson.

1961: Some parishes of Western Rite in America received into the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia.

1977 Incarnation parish received in Detroit. Petitioned Met. Philip and became the first parish ever to use the revised Liturgy of the 1892 American BCP as edited in 1904 by the Holy Synod of Moscow.

Also see:

About Fr Joseph Gleason

I serve as a priest at Christ the King Orthodox Mission in Omaha, Illinois, and am blessed with eight children and one lovely wife. I contribute to On Behalf of All, a simple blog about Orthodox Christianity. I also blog here at The Orthodox Life.
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