An American Saint I'd not heard of before
Over a year ago, Fr. Michael Oleksa and I were emailing one another back and forth about our mutual "Oleksa/Olexa" heritage. And I was just rereading some of our emails I noticed that he had mentioned a Saint Alexis Toth of Wilkes Barr and Minneapolis and it occurred to me that in my fury of ancestoral research I never looked up more information on him.

St. Alexis, like my family, lived in Slovakia and was a "Greek Catholic" (aka Uniate, aka Eastern Rite Catholic). He was sent to Minneapolis to do missionary work at a local Uniate Parish (which would become St. Mary's Cathedral) and was greeted by a fair amount of hostility when he presented himself to the North American Roman Catholic Hierarchs.

To make a long story short, he would end up leading 360 Parishoners from St. Mary Church with him back to Holy Orthodoxy and in 1892 they would be received officially (get this) into the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska and the Aleutians. Later he worked to bring 17 other slavic uniate parishes back into the Orthodox Church and would start some 15-20 other new parishes. In the years that followed his passing, many other Slavic Uniates would "come home" including some of my family...and in a much more round about way, me.

He was canonized in 1994 by the OCA and his relics are open for veneration at St. Tikhon's Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania. His feastday is not until May 7th, but today I am precelebrating:

Troparion - Tone 4

O righteous Father Alexis,
Our heavenly intercessor and teacher,
Divine adornment of the Church of Christ!
Entreat the Master of All
To strengthen the Orthodox Faith in America,
To grant peace to the world
And to our souls, great mercy!

Kontakion - Tone 5

Let us, the faithful, praise the Priest Alexis,
A bright beacon of Orthodoxy in America,
A model of patience and humility,
A worthy shepherd of the Flock of Christ.
He called back the sheep who had been led astray
And brought them by his preaching
To the Heavenly Kingdom!


Anonymous said…
I've always had great love for St. Alexis.

I've missed your Byzantine Rite heritage, but what a neat thing to have finally foudnd your way home, just like St. Alexis did. Wonderful news!

And, so you are related to Father Michael? The Orthodox world is indeed small!

In Christ,
Anonymous said…
Very interesting, I'd never heard of St. Alexis.
As an aside, it could only help Orthodoxy in America, if the "American Saints" were shouted from the rooftops a bit more. I wonder if there is a feastday for "The Saints of All America" or some such. If there isn't there should be!
Munkee said…
Saints in must be the brutal cold ascetic winters!

Small world...ummm more like living on an island.

St. Alexis pray for us!
Anonymous said…
Radoje -

It is my understanding that the Sunday after Pentecost is All Saint's Day. And the next Sunday after that is "All Saints of (insert name of country here)". So, All Saint's of America would be the second Sunday after Pentecost in America; but All Saint's of Serbia would be the same day for you.

Forgive me if I've misunderstood.

In Christ,
Anonymous said…
The narrative of Bishop Ireland of St. Paul and St. Alexis arguing about married clergy (in Latin!) is a priceless read. THat bullheaded bishop should be somehow comemorated by the OCA, as he precipitated an avalanch of Eastern Catholics out of Rome and into Orthodoxy. Read it and enjoy.
--- Bob Koch

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