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Theoclitos (Triantafilides)

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==Early Ministry==
He was invited to complete a formal education and become a teacher at the Slavic Greek Latin Academy and Theological Seminary at Holy Trinity – St. Sergius Monastery, better known today as the Moscow Theological Academy, just outside Moscow, Russia. After under-graduate, a Graduate Degrees in Theology and a few years of teaching; he was called upon by the new Danish born King of Greece, George I, to tutor his son Prince George. Later, the King’s brother-in-law, Tzar Tsar Alexander III of Russia called upon him to tutor the Royal Family’s 6 children specifically in other Orthodox cultures including the Greek language. So, he became a Greek cultural teacher to the future Tzar Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, who was Canonized a Martyr Saint of the Russian Orthodox Church. It is also said, Fr. Theoclitos was one of the 30 or so clergyman serving at the wedding of Nicholas II and Alexandra Fyodorovna.
==The establishment of the Ss. Constantine and Helen parish in Galveston, Texas==
During the late 1880’s and early 1890’s these Orthodox Christian Serbian, Russian, Greek, Bulgarian, and Arab (Lebanese) immigrants to Galveston had organized and started gathering monies for a church. Aside from the religious group, they each started several individual nationalistic groups. Each had separately written many petitions to their former Bishops back home for a Parish Priest and had received only denials; justified by the facts of distance and costs, but in these denials were also suggestions that they petition the Russian Orthodox Mission Diocese in North America. So the culture in Galveston was ripe for the addition of an Eastern European & Mediterranean Priest of Arch. Fr. Theoclitos’ stature.
So, the Slavs, headed by Risto Vukovich; and the Greeks headed by Athurs Menutis gathered and decided to petition the Russian Mission Diocese. They sent three telegrams written in Cyrillic and signed by Vukovich, Christo Chuk, and Milosh Porobich which explained the diversity of the parishioners to; (1) the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, (2) Tzar Tsar Nicholas II personally, and (3) His Grace Bishop Nicholas in Sitka, Alaska. A short time later the parish board received a telegram personally from Tzar Tsar Nicholas II, stating his acceptance of their plea. The Tzar Tsar had a large Gospel Printed, all the Vestments and Liturgical necessities including a signed Antimens, and all the Icons for an Iconostas painted and assembled including the icon to be used for the name day of the future Church (His own Namesake, Saint Nicholas); and he chose his teacher Fr. Theoclitos to go to Galveston, telling him “Let there be an Orthodox Church in Galveston”.
[[Image:Theoclitos_Triantafilides2.jpg|right|frame|Source: Ss. Constantine and Helen Orthodox Church, Galveston Texas]]
By this time, Fr. Theoclitos was 61 years of age, was a well traveled man and spoke more than a dozen languages; Greek, Russian, Serbian, Slavonic, Latin, Bulgarian, Arabic, Hebrew, Danish; and some Spanish, English, French, German, and Romanian. The Ambassador of Russia to the United States acquired U. S Citizenship for him even before he left Russia. Prior to leaving Russia, Fr. Theoclitos was given the heavy cross he always wore by Tzar Tsar Nicholas II and he was elevated to the rank of Right Reverend Archimandrite, because he would soon be the Priestly leader of a flock of Christians so far away with little known chance of a visiting Bishop anytime soon. His journey to the far off land of Galveston, Texas began with six companions. With him were; the Very Reverend Archimandirte Rafael Hawaweeny (Glorified a Saint in March of 2000 by the Orthodox Church in America) and his three Deacons Constantine Abu-Adal, Istvan Moldowanyi and John Shamie (later Shame was a Priest in Galveston); and Archimandrite Fr. Theoclitos’ two Russian Deacons, Theodore Pashkowsky and Joakim Zubkowsky, and his Romanian Deacon Pavel Grepashewsky; and Fr. Peter I. Popoff. The first leg of the trip was by train to Berlin, serving liturgy there at the Russia Embassy Church; then on to the Port of Bremen. The next leg was by passenger ship to Southampton for a change of ships, then on to New York aboard the passenger ship, S.S Havel out of South Hampton, as a United States Citizen. Only 82 passengers sailed that day. Although a group of Priests were at the port of New York to greet them on the Morning of November 14, 1895, they were required by customs to spend one night in Quarantine. The Next Morning, they were joined in New York by Bishop Nicholas Ziorov of the Russian Orthodox Mission in America, who’s Diocesan headquarters were in Sitka, the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, to consecrate the First Arab-Syrian Orthodox Church in America under the Russian Mission’s jurisdiction, and to install Archimandrite Rafael as Pastor, with his three deacons. A few days later, Arch. Fr. Theoclitos, his three Deacons; and Fr. Popoff traveled with Bishop Nicholas by train to Washington D.C., then to western Pennsylvania, where Fr. Popoff was to serve and then on to Kansas City. At this point, it was decided that only the Romanian Deacon Grepashewsky would travel to Galveston with Fr. Theoclitos; and Bishop Nicholas and the other two Deacons would go on to San Francisco. Fr. Theoclitos stopped in Hartshorne, American Indian Territory, Oklahoma, to have Liturgy for a group of Russian Miners, just outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma before reaching Galveston.
The distances from Galveston to either San Francisco or New York are about 1600 miles. Although his rightful rank was high, which gave him the right to consecrate his own chapel including the right to wear a Mitre and carry a staff; he lived his life in Galveston as a meager Monk, teacher, and Pastoral Priest. The Church Congregation never paid Fr. Theoclitos, because he received his pay directly from the Tzar Tsar (1500 rubels a month and 500 rubels as expenses; about $120 total, at that time) until Fr. Theoclitos passed away in 1916, a year and a half before Tzar Tsar Nicholas II and his Family were murdered.
The Trustees of The Existing Congregation Board (Chris Vucovich, Chris Chuoke, Athurs Menutis and Mitchael Mihaloudski) formally received their State Corporation Papers on January 13, 1895 and subsequently purchased a 43’ wide x 120’ deep property that is at 4107 Avenue L, Galveston, Texas on December 15, 1895. They started to build a rectangular wood frame Orthodox styled Church, and when Fr. Theoclitos arrived, in January of 1896, he directed the finishing of the Church. The congregation was astonished to be blessed with an Archimandrite and a Deacon, not just a Priest, and best of all he was somewhat of a linguist.
In Galveston, all properties faced either North-west or South-east, so they had chosen property that left the Church unusually facing South-east. And, although the Icon of Saint Nicholas was placed in the Iconostas to Honor Tzar Tsar Nicholas II as the Patron of the Church; it was Fr. Theoclitos’ decision to use the name S. S. Constantine and Helen Church, because the congregation that started on its own should be remembered. Bishop Nicholas was invited and he accepted; and the Consecration of our church occurred on June 3rd 1896, the feast day of S.S. Constantine and Helen. Fr. Theoclitos’ decision on the name of the Church, was not unusual with him. He was known to have baptized children with names other than their parents had asked for. But his guidance and decisions were always accepted by his congregation. He had services in the Slavonic, Greek and Arabic languages.
In 1897, Fr. Theoclitos purchased a 36 plot track in the Lake View Cemetery as a gift to his Congregation. He buried his flock in the next consecutive plot, without regard to couples or children or any relationship, because he saw them as one congregational family.
:''LaGrange, Tex., Jan. 25, --Married today, Mr, Abraham John to Miss Zeche Nemer, both Greek, at the Catholic Church by Rev. Theoclitos (Archimandrite of the Orthodox Church), Galveston, Tex. A very large crowd attended the ceremonies, which were “somewhat of a novelty”, no such ceremonies having ever been performed here.''
The Galveston Parish Board additionally purchased a like adjoining property west of the Church doubling the size of the property in early 1900. But, in his 66th year, on September 8th 1900, Galveston Island was hit by the greatest natural disaster in United States history when the massive Hurricane of 1900 came ashore. The Island was almost totally destroyed (est. of 8,000 to 12,000 deaths of a population of 30,000, which included 24 members of the congregation. Fr. Theoclitos and Fr. Mikhail spent 30 hrs in the church praying and giving refuge to parishioners and neighbors that sought safety in the church. After the storm had passed, the Church structure was still standing although it had floated to the west about 10 feet partially onto the additional property just purchased. Those that were with him in the church believed Fr. Theoclitos and his church had truly saved their lives. The congregation gathered and raised the Church, repaired the damage and early in 1902 petitioned Bishop Tikhon, who had since moved the headquarters of the Diocese to New York, to visit and Re-consecrate their repaired Church. Bishop Tikhon accepted and arrived shortly before services on June 3rd 1903. By order of Tzar Tsar Nicholas II, Bishop Tikhon bestowed on Fr. Theoclitos the Royal Honors of (1) the Order Of St. Vladimir and (2) the Order of St. Anne (in his picture, the ribbon and cross like medallion around the neck to his right side is the order of St. Vladimir, the ribbon and medallion around the neck to his left side is the Order of St. Anne and the necklet with the large medallion was awarded him upon attaining his Graduate Degree in Theology from the Moscow Theological Academy).
[[Image:ssconstantine_helen2.jpg|left|frame|Interior of Ss. Constantine and Helen Orthodox Church]]
[[Image:theoclitos_funeral.jpg|left|frame|The Funeral of Archimandrite Theoclitos]]
And then, in his 81st year, the Island was hit by another devastating Hurricane in August of 1915. Again, Arch. Fr Theoclitos and others prayed in the Church. This storm was even more tenuous for them, but never was anyone in the church lost in any storm. The Church floated to the north about 50 feet into the street, and the front wall was torn open and the Gospel given by Tzar Tsar Nicholas II was found by parishioner George Mandich another 200’ away in the city cemetery across from the Church, miraculously with very little water damage. The congregation repaired the Church and moved it back into place with mule and muscle.
The parish again, needed more future graves. This time, as a religious benevolent society, they purchased their own private Cemetery in the western part of the city, about a quarter mile from the other cemetery. The land was far larger (would easily accommodate about 300 graves) and would meet their needs for long years into the future. But they also divided it into two sections, the Greeks to one side, and the Serbians and other Slavs on the other.

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