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Rev. Ambrose Vretta (aka Amvrosy or Ambrosius Wretta) was an early priest in the Russian Mission in America in the 1890s. He was the first pastor of St. Nicholas Church (later St. Vladimir's Church and now Holy Trinity Cathedral) in Chicago, Illinois, and of St. Spiridon Church in Seattle, Washington.
Vretta was born in Macedonia in 1859. He attended the Imperial Medical College in Istanbul, then toured Europe and studied in Rome. He returned for a time to his homeland, but soon left due to ill treatment by the Turkish government. He moved to Russia, where he became acquianted with the Metropolitan of St. Petersburg. It is possible that he was ordained a priest during his time in Russia.
In 1892, Vretta, by this time a priest, arrived in America with the newly-appointed Bishop Nicholas (Ziorov). On May 17, 1892, he oversaw the founding of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Chicago, becoming its first pastor. Shortly after this, he also assumed pastoral responsibility for a new parish in Streator, Illinois.
During his time in Chicago, Vretta had a friendly relationship with the local Greek priest, Fr. Panagiotis (Peter) Phiambolis, concelebrating with him on numerous occasions in both the Greek and Russian parishes.
In November 1895, Vretta was transferred to Seattle, where he oversaw the founding of St. Spiridon Church and became that parish's first resident priest. He succeeded Fr. Sebastian Dabovich, who had been conducting services in Seattle on Saturdays for a period before Vretta's arrival. In 1896, Vretta visited Montana, where he celebrated the first Orthodox services in that state.
Vretta was transferred out of St. Spiridon in December 1896, and his whereabouts after that date are unknown.
- "Fr. Ambrose Vretta: pioneering priest in Chicago & Seattle," by Matthew Namee (OrthodoxHistory.org, October 16, 2009)
- "Circuit Riders to the Slavs and Greeks: Missionary Priests and the Establishment of the Russian Orthodox Church in the American West, 1890-1910," by Brigit Farley