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Aftimios Ofiesh

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In 1924, in the canonical chaos of American Orthodoxy following the onset of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the Arab Orthodox faithful split into two factions, one which wished to go under the canonical authority of the [[Church of Antioch]] and another which wished to stay faithful to the [[Church of Russia]]. The former group was organized by Bishop [[Victor (Abu Assaly) of New York]], thus beginning the official presence of the Church of Antioch on American soil.
In 1927, Aftimios was commissioned by the Russian [[diocese]] in America to form an English-speaking "[[American Orthodox Catholic Church]]," which, despite Aftimios' leadership and vision, only lasted for six years. During this time, however, Aftimios consecrated three bishops for his new jurisdiction, [[Sophronios (Beshara) of Los Angeles]], Joseph (Zuk) for the Ukrainians[], and [[Ignatius (Nichols) of Washington|Ignatius (William Albert) Nichols]] in September of 1932 as his auxiliary bishop of Washington.[] Additionally, in 1931 the [[Society of Clerks Secular of St. Basil]], a [[Western Rite]] group, was established under the auspices of this diocese and subsequently led by Nichols.[]
In 1932, Archbishop Aftimios was invited to come to St. Mary's Syrian Orthodox Church in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, to arbitrate a dispute regarding the transfer of its priest, Fr. Constantine Abou-Adal. When Fr. Constantine left St. Mary's in November of 1932, the parish was without a pastor, and so Archbishop Aftimios served in that capacity until February of 1933, organizing a choir and Sunday School at the parish. During this time, he met and became involved with one of St. Mary's parishioners, Mariam Namey, then subsequently married her in a civil ceremony in April of 1933.[]
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