At the dawn of the 20th Century, immigrants from Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine filled with faith, spirit, and zeal took courage to travel to the United States in pursuit of dreams to better their way of life economically and to assist their relatives abroad. Although many traveled throughout the United States, some settled in Glens Falls, New York, having as their point of origin either Metan or Malki, Syria. Traveling throughout the Adirondack region, some labored in factories such as Portland Cement Company, some became merchants, and some farmers.
Among the first settlers in the area were Shida Baroody, Deebe Emmett, George Mahfood, Michael Abraham Fahoom. Later others followed and settled in the area. These early immigrants settled on Canal Street. All lived in a four-family house. Other early settlers were George Farris, Serafim Corey, Fr. Alexi Hanna, brother David Hanna, and the Jacobs family.
Equipped with their faith, they with zeal looked forward to a travelling Orthodox Priest who would hold the Divine Liturgy in the homes, either at the Leo Sahid residence – on Fredella (Glens Falls), later at the Carma residence (4 Hudson Street, South Glens Falls). Services were always followed by a common dinner brought by the faithful. As the community began to grow, at the request of these early pioneers, His Eminence Archbishop Raphael Hawaweeny received and assigned Archimandrite Alexi Hanna to the community of South Glens Falls, New York, in January 1906.
Fr. Hanna was from Malki, a village between Tartus and Safita, Syria. Fr. Hanna not only served the community of Glens Falls, but also traveled to the surrounding areas performing sacraments and returned to his residence at 55 Main Street, South Glens Falls. Out of his love and determination, and commitment to his faith, Fr. Hanna began to hold services at his residence. A few years later, in 1912, St. George was recognized as a church.
On April 15, 1925, a cemetery was purchased as a final resting place of the faithful. Father Hanna pastored the community until he fell asleep in the Lord in 1951. Under his leadership, the community thrived as many traveled from adjacent areas to attend liturgy. Following his death, the community purchased the parcel-church from Bishop Samuel David.
Other Clergy that served the community were Fr. Basilios Sayfie, Fr. Nemer Beshara, Fr. William Stotte, Fr. Sorelli, Fr. Daniel Simon (under his leadership, as the community continued to grow, a new house of worship was built and completed in 1967 on the same location). Fr. Stephen Barham (Church Hall was built), Fr. Michael Corey, Fr. Anthony Sabbagh, Fr. Hanna Shalhoub, Fr. Michael Shahen, Fr. Joseph Purpura, Fr. David Milke, Fr. Matthew George, Fr. George Ghannam, Fr. Andrew Zbeeb, Fr. Constantine Masood, Fr. Elias Nasr, Fr. Stephen Rhudy, Fr. Elias Nasr returned, Fr. Terrance Baz, and currently Fr. Philip Begley as of August 2012.
The Church Hall expansion and renovation were completed in 1975. St. George Church owns its own rectory and parking lot.
Currently the church is seeing growth in its membership as it caters to all Orthodox Christians: Syrians, Lebanese, Greeks, Russians, Romanians, Macedonians, etc. Being located in a tourist area, attendance fluctuates as some of its parishioners leave to winter in Florida; while others visit in winter to enjoy the ski resorts.
ABOUT THE FOUNDER OF OUR PARISH: ST. RAPHAEL OF BROOKLYN:
BISHOP RAPHAEL HAWAWEENY
Born: Beirut, Lebanon, ca. November 20, 1860, to Mikha`il and Maryam Hawaweeny; raised in the Bab Tuma Quarter of Damascus, Syria
- Patriarchal School, Damascus, Syria School of Orthodox Theology, Halki Island (1879-86)
- Theological Academy, Kiev, Russia (1888-89)
- Deacon, December 20, 1885, on Halki Island
- Priest, June 16, 1889, in Kiev, Russia
- Archimandrite, July 28, 1889, in Moscow, Russia
- Bishop, February 29, 1904, in New York, by Abp. TIKHON and Bp. INNOCENT (Pustynskii), becoming the first Orthodox Christian hierarch consecrated in the New World.
- Rector, Metochion of the Patriarchate of Antioch, Moscow, Russia (1889-92)
- Extraordinary Instructor in the Arabic Language, Theological Academy, Kazan’, Russia (1893-95)
- Rector, St. Nicholas Church, Brooklyn, NY; simultaneously serving as Leader of the Syrian Orthodox Spiritual Mission in North America, traveling extensively in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, solidifying communities; serving as Censor of the Russian-languageRussian Orthodox American Messenger (November 14, 1895-November 28, 1904)
- Bishop of Brooklyn (1904-15), overseeing founding and development of twenty-nine parishes; simultaneously serving as Second Vicar of the Diocese of the Aleutian Islands and North America (1904-15); Administrator of the entire Diocese (1909)
- Benefactor of St. Tikhon’s Monastery, South Canaan, PA, and St. Platon’s Theological Seminary, Tenafly, NJ
- Vice-President, Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union (1910-12)
- al-Kalimat [The Word] (Edited: 1905-15)
- An Historical view of the errors of the Papal Church (Arabic)
- A Brief history of the Christian Church (Arabic)
- A Refutation of the Proclamation of Pope Leo XIII (Arabic)
- The Funeral service for children (translated into Arabic)
- A Guide to the services of the Consecration and Dedication of a church (translated into Arabic)
- The Kontakarion (translated into Arabic)
- The Great Euchologion (translated into Arabic)
- The Small Euchologion (translated into Arabic)
Died: Brooklyn, NY, February 27, 1915
Now buried: Antiochian Village, Ligonier, PA; his incorrupt relics having been translated from the Arab section of Mount Olivet Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY (which he founded) in July of 1989.
Summary: Born in Beirut, Lebanon, and educated in Damascus Syria, Halki, Turkey, and Kiev, Russia, Raphael Hawaweeny found himself virtually exiled in Kazan, Russia, making himself of use on the faculty of the Anti-Muslim Missionary School, when he was summoned to the New World by the Syrian Orthodox Benevolent Committee in New York City. Immigrating in 1895 and serving under the aegis of the Russian Orthodox Mission — then the only established Orthodox hierarchy — he was technically pastor of St. Nicholas Church (later Cathedral) in Brooklyn, NY, but was, in fact, the roving pastor of several dozen tiny, isolated communities spread thinly across the continent. As a priest he crossed the continent repeatedly in the course of nine years, and did so several more after being consecrated Bishop of Brooklyn — the first such Orthodox consecration in North America — in 1905. He established a journal, al-Kalimat, to spread “the Word” to places he could not himself be, and worked diligently at translating Greek liturgical books into Arabic. These he distributed at his own expense to communities throughout the Middle East and to émigrés in the Americas, Africa, and Australasia, greatly helped preserve Orthodox Christianity in those regions.
- Garrett, Paul D., “The Life and Legacy of Bishop Raphael Hawaweeny,” The First One Hundred Years (Englewood, NJ : Antakya Press, 1995).
- __________., “Envoy from Antioch: the life and ministry of Bishop Raphael Hawaweeny,” Again (16.4), 6-9.
- __________., “Pascha, 1901,” Word (28.4), 15-16.
- Issa, André, “The Life of the thrice blessed: Bishop Raphael Hawaweeny,” Word 39.2 (Feb. 1995), 5-7; 39.3 (Mar. 1995), 9-11; 39.4 (Apr. 1995), 5-7 (“Bishop Raphael and Orthodox/Episcopal Relations”); 39.5 (May 1995), 9-11
*INFORMATION COURTESY OF (www.antiochian.org).