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History of The Catholic Church What is the Orthodox Church
Syriac Orthodox Church
Western Rite Orthodox
Catholic Church and Rites
The Great Schism
St. Photios the Great
Pope Leo III and the Filioque
Church Terminology
The Name Orthodox
The Nicene Creed
Orthodoxy & Roman Catholism
Orthodoxy & Roman Dialogue
Orthodox Teaching
Orthodox Doctrine
Orthodox Prayers
Principle of Orthodox Faith
Four Marks of the Church

Fasting in the Orthodox Church
Holy Communion
Jesus Prayer
Sign of the Cross
Rules of Pius Life
The Holy Trinity
Meaning of Christ's Cross
Why do we confess?
Preparation for Confession
History of Rosary
The Blessed Virgin Mary
How to Pray the Rosary

Syriac - Greek Antiochian Orthodox Catholic Archdiocese History

The Syriac - Greek Antiochian Orthodox Catholic Church was always an American jurisdiction with many foreign missions. It has always allowed the use of the vernacular in all religious services. It's orders originate from the Syrian and Russian (Greek) Chuches. It's  beginning as an Orthodox jurisdiction in America began on May 29, 1892, when Father Joseph (Vilathi), a priest who served the Belgian congregations of Little Sturgeon and Green Bay Wisconsin, was summoned to Ceylon to be consecrated the first Bishop for the Church in America. The consecration took place at the Church of Our Lady of Good Death, Colombo Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and was done canonically resulting  from a Bull issued by His Holiness Ignatius Peter III, Patriarch of the Orthodox Syrian Church of Antioch. He was consecrated by Archbishop Julius Alvarez I (a Portugese convert to Orthodoxy from Roman Catholicism), Archbishop Paul Athanasius (Bishop of Kottayam), and Archbishop George Gregorius (Bishop of Niranam) who was later canonized a saint of the Indian (Malankara) Church. The Bull authorizing the consecration was issued on December 29, 1891 and he was given the name "Timotheos". The American Church eventually separated from the Orthodox Syrian Church over politics and a difference of opinion regarding the Council of Chalcedon, which the American Church accepted along with all seven Ecumenical Councils. So, Archbishop Timotheos was appointed Archbishop for the Americas by Patrairch Ignatius Peter III, and he returned to the United States and continued to establish parishes in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and New York. Many of these parishes still stand today, although some have been sold or taken over by other denominations during some trying times experienced after the death of Archbishop Timotheos on July 8, 1929. The Church was originally known as the "American Orthodox Catholic Archdiocese," but because of several schisms which caused various unorthodox groups to form, the Church was later renamed and restructured. Today, the name American Orthodox Catholic Church is used by many Old Catholic groups.

Although the Apostolic Succession of the Syriac - Greek Antiochian Orthodox Catholic Church dates back to His Eminence Archbishop Timotheos (Vilathi), Proto-Metropolitan Archbishop of the Church in the United States, who brought the Syrian Succession to the American Church, it also possesses succession from the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church from Archbishop Konstantin (Wendland). The Russian Succession comes into the Church through Archbishop John (Skureth) who was born on January 8, 1933, and after years of education and priestly formation and eventual ordination to priest in the Antiochian Orthodox Church of America under Metropolitan Archbishop Michael (Shaheen), he was later consecrated by Bishop William Henry Francis Brothers, a Bishop in the Vilathi Succession. Father Skureth immediately began establishing missions and promoting the Church throughout Northern Indiana where he established Holy Martyrs of Port Royal Cathedral. After a time of dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church, it was decided that he be regularized by them and made a Bishop. On April 17, 1966, he was consecrated a Bishop by Archbishop Konstantin Nikolaevich (Wendland) of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America, assisted by Archbishop Dosifej (Ivanchenko) in New York. Archbishop John served the Church for several years as pastor of Holy Martyrs of Port Royal Cathedral, Gary Indiana, which was a beautiful structure that was sold and razed in the 1970's becoming a parking lot for Mercy Hospital. Holy Martyrs Church, Hobart Indiana, later became the new parish founded by Archbishop John. He also, before this in Michigan City Indiana, served St. George Syrian Orthodox Church (Antiochian Archdiocese). It was Archbishop John who later consecrated Joseph Gabriel Sokolowski who eventually became the fifth Metropolitan Archbishop of the Church.

Archbishop Joseph was born on October 27, 1903, in Kracow Poland, and came to the United States in 1913. He first studied with the Roman Catholic Franciscans of Pulaski Wisconsin, and although he loved the old traditions of Roman Catholicism, he entered Orthodox Catholicism in the 1950's. After joining the Orthodox Catholic Church, he founded St. Paul the Apostle Monastery (Rolling Prairie Indiana) around 1955, and was ordained deacon on February 13, 1957 by Most Reverend Stephan (Siniotis), and on May 22, 1961 he was ordained priest by Most Reverend Francis Resch of the Independent Diocese of Kankakee Illinois. Father Sokolowski labored day after day for nearly thirty-five years building shrines and chapels on the over six acres of land that was owned by St. Paul's Orthodox Catholic Monastery in Rolling Prairie Indiana. He toiled effortlessly to create gardens of beauty that attracted many thousands of people annually from all faiths. The monastery was listed in the "Guide to Indiana Attractions". To support the monastery, he collected and sold antiques for many years until his death. On December 16, 1964, he was named Abbot General of the Oblates of St. Benedict and on March 16, 1970, he was consecrated Bishop by Archbishop John, who was assisted by Bishop Francis. Bishop Joseph continued to work the monastery grounds and celebrate liturgies each Sunday. Because of the various ethnic groups that visisted St Paul's he would often celebrate Liturgy in English, Polish, and even Latin. Eventually, St. Mary's Chapel was erected on the same grounds which was adorned with many antique icons and other religious artifacts, and attracted people from Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and many other states and foreign countries to see the beauty he created. Although robbed several times by those he took in and gave comfort to, he continued to keep the grounds open and available to all who wished to visit. In the early 1980's, arthritis captured the health of Archbishop Joseph, but he continued to work and celebrate the Holy Mysteries  although assisted by other clergy in the last two years of his life until his death on April 2, 1989.  Archbishop Joseph consecrated three Bishops: Stanislaus Bullock, Tage Howes, and Stephen Thomas, the latter of which was elected and enthroned as sixth Metropolitan Archbishop and Protohierarch by  Metropolitan Archbishop Joseph  in 1987, just before his death.

On October 18, 1987, Bishop-elect Stephen was consecrated by Archbishop Joseph, assisted by Archbishop George of Chicago Illinois and Bishop Norman of Indiana, at St. Mary's Chapel in Rolling Prairie Indiana. Bishop Stephen was previously ordained deacon and priest in the Greek Orthodox Church (Ecumenical Patriarchate) at Holy Cross-St. Andrew's Greek Orthodox Church, Chicago Illinois in January 1976. However, after the death of his ordaining prelate, Bishop Timotheos of Rodostolon of Blessed Memory, the jealousy of another local priest and politics and unwarranted demands of a new administration soon caused him to leave the Greek Orthodox Church and incardinate temporarily under Archbishop Pangratios who made him an Archimandrite, but a few years later he joined with Archbishop Joseph. Archbishop Stephen consecrated Bishops Douglas (O'Connor) of Blessed Memory, Anthony (DeLuca) now schismatic and deposed, George (Singleton) now schismatic and deposed, John (Sowrimuthu),  John (Utz), and Timothy (Kjera). In August of 2007 His Beatitude will consecrate Archimandrite Cyril (Cranshaw) to the Holy Episcopacy and will become the first Bishop of Central and South America. He wll serve the Metroplia as an Auxiliary Bishop. The Coadjutor of the Metropolia, Bishop Timothy, in October 2006, consecrated Bishop Simeon of Cleveland OH assisted by Romanian Bishop Stefan and Byelorussian Archbishop Jovan. There are over 25,000 faithful represented in the Church in. the Archdiocese of  the Americas & Diaspora that includes the Diocese of Cuba, Diocese of India, Diocese of Nigeria, and the Vicariates of Pakistan,  Kenya, Congo, Nicaragua, Tanzania, Spain, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. The Eastern Orthodox Catholic Synod of Bishops oversees seminaries and schools in various countries, e.g., Holy Trinity Seminary in Pakistan, St Mark - Romano Byzantine College (USA), St Mark-Romano Byzantine College Extension of Canada (Ontario),  St. Basil Seminary (Cuba), St Vasilios Seminary and University (Greece), St Nicholas-Romano Byzantine Institute of Tanzania, and Hellenic Orthodox University and St. Dionyssios Seminary both of Greece. The Dean of Academic Affairs is Dr Basil Gikas. In addition, the Synod oversees the work of the Commission on Religious Counseling & Healing, the Metropolia Canon Law Society, and the Christ the Pantocrator Sovereign Order of Chivalry, under the current administration of Father Eric Demetrios Wruch DC.

Customs and Beliefs
- The Syriac - Greek Antiochian Orthodox Catholic Church is an Eastern Rite jurisdiction, i.e., it uses the Eastern Orthodox rituals and the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom. It does allow the Liturgy of St Peter to be used by parishes that were originally formed as Western Rite. The  Liturgy of Saint John was modified for use by the Synod. The Liturgy of Saint Basil is celebrated ten times a year as with all other Orthodox Christian Churches. The Syriac - Greek Antiochian Orthodox Catholic Church differs from some other Eastern Rites in liturgical dress. Priests wear a white alb, stole (epitrachelion), and chasuble (phelonion) as do all jurisdictions, and has always allowed the wearing of a zone or a cincture, and cuffs are optional but have become more endorsed by the Metropolia since January 2007. As with some other jurisdictions, and according to ancient Byzantine custom, bishops and priests wear the same liturgical vestments with the exception that bishops also wear the Pectoral Cross, Panaghia, Omophorion, Eepigonation, and Zzucchetto (Bishop's Scufa). The Mitre is worn by bishops, and the Saccos is worn by the bishops, replacing the phelon (chasuble), for ordination and certain religious events. The Church follows Byzantine tradition in the administration of the Sacraments (Holy Mysteries), and Baptism, Chrismation, and Holy Communion are given together, to both infants and adults being baptized. Married men may be ordained to the Order of Deacon and Order of Priest, but are no longer free to marry once ordained to the diaconate. Holy Unction is administered to the sick and dying by priests. Only monastic (celibate or unmarried) priests may be ordained (consecrated) bishops of the Church. Priests whose wives pass on must remain celibate and then also become eligible for the Holy Episcopacy. Married Bishops who are incardinated lives as decreed by the Canons of the Holy Church Fathers. As with all Churches of Orthodox Faith women are not allowed to be ordained because of tradition and the decrees of the early Church Fathers.

It is a teaching of the Church (based on biblical facts) that prayer, fasting, good nutrition, and herbs are necessary for good health and wellness. The first Protohierarch of the United States, Metropolitan Archbishop Timotheos (Vilathi), was himself a skilled doctor of Chiropractic. So theocentric healing has always been part of the healing ministry of the jurisdiction. Hyperveneration is given to icons, and statues are not allowed. It is a scriptural Church which teaches that both faith and good works are necessary for salvation.  The Church believes that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Theotokos, was the birth-giver of our Lord Jesus Christ and remained ever-virgin. Although her conception was immaculate and of the Holy Spirit, Orthodox do not accept the Roman dogma of "Immaculate Conception" as only Christ was born without sin. Communion is given to the faithful under both species, Body (Bread) and Blood (Wine), and the Real Presence is believed. The Church has one "religious community" of monks and nuns, The Monastic Community of Saint Basil, which is headquartered at St John's Monastery in Nicaragua. Nuns of the Monastic Community are referred to as the Sisters of the Community of St Basil and are headquartered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Africa) at St Mary Mother of God Convent. There is a community of "lay religious" known as the Companions of St Basil open to married or single men and women. The Church follows the Julian Calendar for ecclesiastical matters and does not regard the Gregorian Calendar as sinful. The Church strongly believes in the Separation of Church and State, and owes its total existence and obedience to Almighty God.

The Metropolia is in communion with the Byelorussian Orthodox Autocephalous Church in Exile (ArchbBishop Jovan), and the Belarusan Autocephalous Orthodox Church (Archbishop Jovan), and some others. Through the Council of Canonical Autocephalous Orthodox Bishops it enjoys dialogue with the American Orthodox Catholic Church (Archbishop Samuel); Christian Orthodox Church (Bishop Ignatius); Holy Orthodox Church - Former Exarchate of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria (Archbishop Anthony); and Norhteastern Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Catholic Church (Archbishop Paul). It is also in dialogue with several other jurisdictions. 




Prepared for the Holy Metropolis on October 17, AD 2014. To be updated when necessary.


Note: In the case of His Beatitude Metropolitan Joseph G Sokolowski, he retired in 1988 when His Beatitude Metropolitan Stephen R Thomas was elected his successor, although he did not begin his primacy until his predecessor passed away in 1989 when Metropolitan Stephen was enthroned. There is no year of death for His Beatitude Metropolitan Stephen Thomas as he is still Primate and serving actively. The following shows only the “legitimate” Primates and Archbishops with Roman Numerals. 


His Beatitude

Metropolitan Timotheos Vilathi

I Primate Archbishop (1892-1920 / D. 1929)

I Primate


His Beatitude

Metropolitan Frederick E Lloyd

II Primate Archbishop (1920-1932 / D. 1933)

II Primate


His Eminence

Archbishop Daniel Hinton

Begins the Heretical Line of Archbishops

Archbishop (1932-1933 D. ?)


His Eminence

Archbishop Perry Wise Clarkson

Archbishop (1933-1941 / D.1942)


His Eminence

Archbishop Lowell Paul Wadle

Archbishop (1942-1951 / D.1965)

The Archdiocesan See became vacant until 1966.


His Beatitude

Metropolitan Joseph John Skureth

Ends heretical line of Archbishops

III Primate Archbishop (1966-1989 / D. 2013) 

III Primate


His Beatitude

Metropolitan Joseph Gabriel Sokolowski

IV Primate Archbishop (1980-1988 / D. 1989)

IV Primate


His Beatitude

Metropolitan Stephen Robert Thomas

V Primate (1989 - Present)

In 2009 began the new tradition of electing an Archbishop for the Primatial Archdiocese instead of the Primate serving as both Primate and Archbishop-Ordinary of the Archdiocese of the Americas and Dependencies, who, if chosen by the Primate, also serves as Coadjutor of the Primate and the Holy Metropolis. The first being His Eminence Archbishop Timothy Aaron Kjera.


His Eminence

Archbishop Timothy Aaron Kjera (2009 - Present)

VI Archbishop Ordinary of the Primatial Archdiocese and

Coadjutor of the Holy Metropolis


Syriac-Greek Antiochian Orthodox Catholic Church in Africa