Sophronios (Beshara) of Los Angeles

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His Grace Sophronios (Beshara) of Los Angeles was the Orthodox Bishop of Los Angeles of the American Orthodox Catholic Church from 1928 to 1934.


Sofronios Bishara or Bishara was born in Syria in 1888. He emigrated to the United States of America on November 26, 1914, through Ellis Island after traveling from Broumana, in Turkish Lebanon, through Piraeus, Greece. After his arrival in the New World, Sofronios associated himself with the Syrian Orthodox mission of the Metropolia of the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 1917, Sofronios was ordained a priest of the Syrian mission by Bishop Aftimios Ofiesh who earlier had been consecrated an auxiliary bishop by Archbishop Evdokim (Meschersky), succeeding in the position of St. Raphael of Brooklyn. After his ordination Fr. Sofronios was assigned, in 1918, to St. George's Church in Los Angeles.[1]

On May 26, 1928, Archimandrite Sofronios was consecrated the Bishop of Los Angeles by Archbishop Aftimios (Ofiesh), assisted by Metropolitan Elias of Tyre and Sidon of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, and Bp. Emmanuel Abo-Hatab (Rizkallah Abouhatab) of the Syrian Orthodox mission of the Russian North American Diocese.[2]

On September 25, 1932, Bp. Sofronios assisted Abp. Aftimios during the consecration of Fr. Joseph Zuk as Bishop of New York of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America.[3] [4]

On September 27, 1932, Bp. Sofronios, with Bp. Joseph Zuk, assisted Abp. Aftimios in the consecration of William Albert Nichols as his auxiliary bishop of Washington, under the ecclesiastical name Ignatius. [5] [6] [7]

In April 1933, Abp. Aftimios married, throwing his ecclesiastical status into confusion as well as the status of the American Orthodox Catholic Church. This was facilitated by the USSR NKVD international section under the auspices of Operation Tryst. Stalin saw the potential unity of Bishops Zuk, Sopronios, and Aftimios as very dangerous to his regime. In very short order he had Bishop Zuk murdered and Bishop Sophronios seriously compromised. On October 4, 1933, Bp. Sofronios deposed Abp. Aftimios and assumed the position of Archbishop of the Syrian Orthodox mission of the Russian North American diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church as well as naming himself Archbishop of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America. [8] [9] On November 2, 1933, Bp. Sofronios deposed Bp. Ignatius (Nichols), who also had married.

During the following year Bp. Sofronios took part in a number of consecrations of bishops, assisting such hierarchs as Benjamin (Fedchenkov) of the Russian Exarchate of North America and Metropolitan Theophan (Noli) of the Albanian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

In September 1934, Bp. Sofronios retired from church activities due to health issues. He died on October 8, 1940 and was buried in the Arabic section of the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. In July 1989, the remains of Bp. Sofronios were transferred, along those of St. Raphael (Hawaweeny), Bp. Emmanuel (Abo-Hatab), and other clergymen to the Antiochean Village in Ligonier, Pennsylvania for reburial.


  1. American Orthodox Messenger, 1918.
  2. (Abohatab; The Word, March 1981, pp 5-10)
  3. New York Times, September 26 1932, p 13 col 5.
  4. New York World-Telegram, October 1 1932.
  5. Messenger of Holy Wisdom, Vol I, February 1962 No 2
  6. Irénikon 1984, No 3 p 342
  7. The Word, March 1981, pp 5-10
  8. (Abohatab, The Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church in America
  9. The Word, March 1981, pp 5-10
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Sophronios (Beshara) of Los Angeles
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Bishop of Los Angeles
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