Today (February 27th) is the feast of St. Raphael (Hawaweeny), Bishop of Brooklyn. In fact, today is the 100th anniversary of his repose! St. Raphael was the first Orthodox Christian bishop to have been consecrated in North America. [Excellent information page here.]
Last year a time capsule sealed in 1914 was opened in our small, southern Mississippi town. We were very surprised to read that our Orthodox mission, Christ the Saviour, was the second Orthodox mission to be planted here!
You see that the priest assigned was listed as as "Rev. M. Oberhider". They actually got the spelling of the name wrong; the priest's name was Rev. Moses Abihider, a Syrian, who was here with the blessing of Bishop Raphael.
We were interested to know more about Rev. Moses and found articles here and here. And something interesting here:
Fr. Moses is perhaps best known for being featured on the tombstone of St. Raphael. He is one of six clergymen listed along with the great bishop, and all were at one time buried together at Brooklyn’s Mount Olivet Cemetery. However, in 1988, the remains of St. Raphael and two of the others (Bishops Emmanuel Abo-Hatab and Sophronios Beshara) were transferred, along with the tombstone, to the Antiochian Village in Pennsylvania. It seems most likely that Fr. Moses’ remains are still at Mount Olivet.
Father has been communicating with the Antiochian Archdiocese of Wichita who have compiled information about St. Raphael. We hope to learn more about St. Raphael's legacy here in McComb, and to find where the cornerstone for the first mission was placed.
St. Raphael, pray for us!