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Theoclitos (Triantafilides)

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His father was an Athenian Greek. When the first outbreaks of the [[w:Greek War of Independence|Greek War of Independence]] from the [[w:Ottoman Empire|Ottoman Empire]] started on the [[w:Peloponnese|Peloponnese Peninsula]], his father, a fisherman crossed onto the peninsula to join the forces of famed Greek General [[w:Theodoros Kolokotronis|Theodoros Kolokotronis]]. Eight years later, when Independence was achieved (with great help from the Allied Russian, English and French Forces); he settled in [[w:Aigio|Egio]] (one of the oldest cities in the Balkans), Peloponnese Peninsula, Greece.
Born in November 1833, young Theodoros was named for the famed Greek General. They called him “Theos” and he celebrated his Name Day each [[October 4]]th (on the Julian Calendar), on the Feast Day of St. Hierotheos, the Student of St. Paul, the Apostle, who in 53 A.D. became the First Bishop of Athens. Theodorus grew up fishing with his father, and spending time around the port; while his mother (a native of the Peloponnese Peninsula) pushed him to the Church. The era after Greek Independence was wrought with economic problems and the Armenians and Bulgarians had replaced the Ottomans as bankers and merchants, allowing our young Theos Theodoros to become ever more acquainted with other cultures. Two-thirds of the population had vanished and the land was devastated.
==Education and Monastic Tonsure==
His early schooling was in the Church of Panagia Trypiti that is built inside a cavity of the cliff just 150 stair steps above the Port of Egio and he helped the priests with all their duties, occasionally traveling travelling into the local mountains to visit [[w:Agia Lavra|Agia Lavras Monastery]], about 20 miles south and up in the mountains. Greek Independence had started there with Bishop Germanos declaring Independence with his blessing of the troops. Earlier the Ottomans had burned the [[monastery]], but it was reconstructed with help from the [[Russian Orthodox Church]]. Many of the [[icon]]s there were gifts from the Russian Monastery of [[St. Panteleimon's Monastery (Athos)|St. Panteleimon on Holy Mt Athos]] and the Be-jeweled Gospel in the Monastery was printed, signed and given by Catherine the Great of Russia. History and multi-ethnic cultures literally surrounded him. As a young adult, he was [[tonsure]]d a [[monk]] and was given the name Theoclitos. He soon traveled travelled to [[Mount Athos]] where he was accepted as a resident of the Panteleimon Monastery. Here he became fluent in Slavonic and studied Russian language and customs and made regular visits to the [[Chilandari Monastery (Athos)|Serbian Monastery Hilandar]] learning the Serbian language and customs. He had become fascinated with languages.
==Early Ministry==
==Missionary Activity and Continued Ministry in Galveston==
In early 1897, Bishop Nicholas replaced Deacon Grepashewsky with a young Russian monk, Fr. Mikhail Kurdinovski to allow Arch. Fr. Theoclitos time to travel and invited Arch. Fr. Theoclitos to San Francisco to speak in the Greek language on the mounting losses of the Cretan insurgents in their revolution against Ottoman rule. Bishop Nicholas had to be acutely aware that his Archimandrite was the highest ranking Greek born clergyman in America. While in route, we know that he also served liturgy again in Oklahoma; and in Denver, Colorado. After his sermon in San Francisco he was asked to travel with Fr. (later, Archimandrite) [[Sebastian Dabovich]] (currently being considered for canonization as a [[saint]]), to Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington, where they served liturgy in Slavonic, Greek and Arabic in both cities. He again traveled travelled to San Francisco in 1898, to participate in the installation of [[Tikhon of Moscow|Bishop Tikhon (Belavin)]], as the new Bishop (canonized a saint by the Russia Orthodox Church in 1989), replacing Bishop Nicholas of the Aleutians and Alaska (diocesan name was changed in 1900 to Diocese of the Aleutians and North America). Although little is known about it, Bishop Tikhon visited the Galveston parish in 1899, for the first of two visits.
It’s known that Fr. Theoclitos traveled travelled extensively on the gulf coast going as far east as Mobile, Alabama, as far south as Corpus Christi, Texas, and into the interior north to Ft. Worth, San Antonio, San Angelo and Austin Texas, performing marriages and baptisms and serving liturgy whereever wherever he found Orthodox Christians. In 1897, The Wiemar, Texas newspaper had an article about him; where he borrowed the local Catholic Church in LaGrange, Texas to perform the wedding of a greek couple. The writer posted the short article that follows:
:''Weimar Mercury, 29 Jan 1898''
:''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 8]], 1900, Galveston Island was hit by [[w:1900 Galveston hurricane|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 1901 petitioned Bishop Tikhon, who had since moved the headquarters of the Diocese to New York, to visit and reconsecrate their repaired Church. Bishop Tikhon accepted and arrived shortly before services on [[June 3]], 1901. By order of 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]]
While in Galveston, Bishop Tikhon visited the cemetery, and became aware that it was filling fast. As a gift to the Congregation, Bishop Tikhon (who was later made Patriarch of Moscow), purchased 27 additional plots next to the original cemetery track. Fr. Theoclitos and the church continued with a new influx of immigrants coming to Galveston each year, even purchasing another 21’ to the west of the Church. Although he did keep constant communications with the Diocese, it is not clear whether he ever met with Archbishop Platon of New York, who replaced Bishop Tikhon.
He was known to include the Romanov Royal Family each week in the Liturgy, especially due to concerns about the health of Tsar Nicholas II’s son, Alexander’s affliction with hemophilia began to spread. Also World War I was raging, and Russia was not faring well in it, and talk of revolution against the Tsar was in the news from time to time.
On weekly trips to the business district, the neighborhood children would gather on the church steps and wait for his return. He would always have a large bag full of fruit and the latest sweets for them, saving a large portion for his parish children. He became acquainted with many people during his years in Galveston and was thought of respectfully, while they became somewhat enchanted with his customary meager but stoic Orthodox [[monasticism|monastic]] ways. He was a constant visitor to St. Mary’s Infirmary (the local Catholic Hospital) and John Sealy Hospital at the University of Texas Medical Branch. He truly became a friend to many families, who felt his visits to their loved ones in the hospital made those loved ones better. He converted to Orthodoxy many of these families: the Dambido family, the Matthews family and the Lelirra family to name a few.
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