Antiochian Metropolitan Elections: A Brief History

Source: Orthodox History

November 10, 2022


The recent retirement of Metropolitan Joseph has left the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America without a primate. In the coming months, the Archdiocese will undoubtedly hold a special convention to nominate candidates to be the next Metropolitan, and then the Holy Synod of Antioch will elect one of those nominees. Remarkably, this will be just the fifth election of a Metropolitan in the 100-year history of the Archdiocese (which was established in 1923). Today, we’ll review the previous four elections.

Prior to 1923, the Patriarchate of Antioch did not have an official presence in North America. St Raphael Hawaweeny established the Syro-Arab Mission under the Russian Church in 1895, and after his consecration as a bishop in 1904, he was ambiguous about his relationship with Antioch, on the one hand referring to his structure as a vicariate of the Russian Archdiocese, on the other calling it a “diocese of Antioch.” For a longer discussion about the ambiguous status of St Raphael and his vicariate/diocese, see my article “Who was St. Raphael under – Antioch or Russia?”

Following St Raphael’s death in 1915, a period of chaos fell upon the Syrians/Antiochians in America. There was no obvious successor, and the clergy and faithful split into “Russy” and “Antacky” factions: the Russy, led by Bishop Aftimios Ofiesh, favored affiliation with the Russian Church, while the Antacky, led by Metropolitan Germanos Shehadi, preferred allegiance to Antioch. But Metropolitan Germanos was not, in fact, an authorized representative of the Patriarchate of Antioch. He had come to America in 1914, with St Raphael’s blessing, to raise money for an agricultural school in his Archdiocese of Baalbek, but he took a liking to America and, in the wake of St Raphael’s untimely death, he decided to stay and attempt to set up his own archdiocese. Throughout the late teens and early twenties, the Syrians/Antiochians were hopelessly divided.

...Read the rest at Orthodox History.

Follow OrthoChristian on Twitter, Vkontakte, Telegram, WhatsApp, MeWe, and Gab!

Matthew Namee


to our mailing list

* indicates required