Centennial Celebration of the Transfiguration Cathedral in Brooklyn
1916 – 2016
On September 24 and 25, 2016, the Orthodox Cathedral of the Transfiguration of Our Lord in Williamsburg, Brooklyn celebrated its 100th anniversary and the 108th anniversary of the Parish. At Divine Liturgy commemorating the celebration, the parish welcomed His Beatitude Tikhon, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of America and Canada; and His Eminence Archbishop Michael, Bishop of New York, Diocese of New York and New Jersey. The Hierarchs were joined by clergy, deacons, subdeacons, and many altar servers.
The Cathedral has long stood as a regional landmark. It is the oldest Slavic-background Orthodox parish in Brooklyn and one of the oldest in New York City. The parish was established in 1908 by Slavic-heritage immigrants with Carpatho-Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, and other roots. The first church, a former Methodist Church that was adapted for Orthodox worship, was located on North 5th Street. The church grew under its first rector, Archpriest Theophan Buketoff, leading the parish to purchase the current site on North 12th Street. Construction began in 1916 on the church, with a design based on the Cathedral of the Formation in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. Archbishop Platon blessed the church on September 3, 1922.
The Cathedral is the spiritual home to many Orthodox Christians in the Tri-State area, but it is also the mother-parish to churches that parishioners went on to worship at and establish in Upstate New York, Long Island, and across the East Coast. We were overjoyed that many former parishioners from far away places across the United States returned to celebrate the church’s centennial.
The celebration began on Saturday, September 24 with Vespers and Litya, followed by a Great Panikhida with special prayers for the Parish’s ancestors. Archbishop Michael joined Rector V. Rev. Wiaczeslaw Krawczuk and Fr. Igor Yakunin in remembering all the parishioners and friends of the Cathedral.
Before the Panikhida, Archbishop Michael addressed the faithful in attendance and spoke about the importance of the jubilee and what it represented for the parish.
On Sunday, September 25, the celebrations continued with a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy to pray for the Cathedral’s future and the health and success of its parishioners. Before the start of the Divine Liturgy, Archbishop Michael, Fr. Wiaczeslaw, Fr. Igor, and other clergy members welcomed Metropolitan Tikhon at the entrance of the Cathedral. Church Council President Igor Petelski greeted His Beatitude with bread and children presented a bouquet of flowers. After His Beatitude Tikhon was vested in the center of the church, Archbishop Michael tonsured Konrad Petelski to the order of Reader.
His Beatitude Tikhon in his homily highlighted that in 1916 it was already remarkable how deep Orthodox roots were in the area. He also called on parishioners to remember that the parish had withstood many difficult times including both World Wars, the depression, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He reminded parishioners that they formed the soul of the church through their love and prayer.
Before the end of the Divine Liturgy there was a procession around the church which included readings from the Gospel and blessings with holy water on each side of the cathedral. Neighboring priests joined the centennial celebration following Divine Liturgies in their own churches. Those who came included Archpriest Alexander Revyuk from Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn; Archpriest Daniel Degyanski from St. John Chrysostom Church in Woodside; and Fr. Igor Kseniuk from St. John the Baptist Church in Passaic, NJ.
Following the service, awards were given to the rector and the members of the Church council. Archpriest Wiaczeslaw Krawczuk, longtime rector of the Transfiguration Cathedral and Dean of New York City, received a Synodal Gramata in recognition of his 30th Anniversary of his Ordination to the Holy Priesthood. Metropolitan Tikhon also presented a Gramata to the Church Council, which was accepted by the President of the Church Council, Igor Petelski, and members of the Church Council. Archbishop Michael then presented individual Gramata’s to Church Council President Igor Petelski and other long serving active Church Council members.
The celebratory lunch after the Divine Liturgy began with The Lord’s Prayer, followed by the Star-Spangled Banner, sung by Mrs. Eugenia Kurianowicz. Father Wiaczeslaw began the speeches by greeting everyone in attendance. Igor Petelski, the President of the Parish Council, gave a toast to the 100th Jubilee. Subdeacon Peter Andryuk gave a brief history of the parish and its founders and previous rectors. Ann Kandratino, the President of the Sisterhood of the Myrrhbearing Women, and new tonsured reader Konrad Petelski, the president of the St. Herman Brotherhood, explained their work in the church and thanked all the parishioners that support their organizations. Mrs. Audrey C. Podhaiski, the longtime Church School Director, spoke of the Church School’s activities and thanked the parents, guardians, and teachers that had helped support the Church School for generations.
His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon gave his blessing to all those in attendance, including clergy members, parishioners, and visitors. His Eminence Michael Archbishop of New York and the diocese of New York and New Jersey, thanked all the parishioners and reminded them of the importance of passing the Orthodox faith to their children in order to form the next generation of parishioners.
It was special to have so many people attend the celebration, remember our history, and pray for our future. We pray that with the continued prayers and support of our parishioners and friends the Cathedral will stand as a testament of our faith and history for at least another 100 years.
By: Barbara Krawczuk