Aftimios Ofiesh

Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh
and the
American Orthodox Catholic Church

Our legal names include;
The Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America, Inc.
short name: American Orthodox Catholic Church
Society of Clerks Secular of Saint Basil
American Orthodox Patriarchate

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Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh U.S. Postage Stamp

Anyone interested in obtaining a mint, limited edition, .46 cent postage stamp of Archbishop Ofiesh should contact us at

They will be available on Feb. 2, 2014 which is the Anniversary of our being Chartered by the Russian Synod of Bishops in North America and Archbishop Ofiesh's appointment as first Archbishop of this Church.

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Aftimios Ofiesh (1880-1966, né bdullah Aftimios Ofiesh) was an early 20th century canonical Orthodox bishop in America, serving as the immediate successor to St. Raphael of Brooklyn under the auspices of the Church of Russia. He held the title Bishop of Brooklyn from 1917 until his death in 1966. He is also known in our day as being the claimed source of numerous lines of succession of episcopi vagantes and led the American Orthodox Catholic Church until his death in 1966.

Following the untimely death of St. Raphael of Brooklyn in 1915, Archimandrite Aftimios (Ofiesh) was elected to serve as his replacement in caring for the Arab Orthodox faithful in America under the Church of Russia's canonical authority. He was consecrated by Archbishop Evdokim (Meschersky) as an auxiliary bishop in 1917 with the title of Bishop of Brooklyn. In 1923, in recognition for his work in America, he was elevated by Metropolitan Platon (Rozhdestvensky) of New York to the rank of archbishop.

In 1924, in the canonical chaos of American Orthodoxy following the onset of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the Arab Orthodox faithful split into two factions, one which wished to go under the canonical authority of the Church of Antioch and another which wished to stay faithful to the Church of Russia. The former group was organized by Bishop Victor (Abu Assaly) of New York, thus beginning the official presence of the Church of Antioch on American soil.

In 1927, Aftimios was commissioned by the Russian diocese in America to form an English-speaking "American Orthodox Catholic Church," which, under Aftimios' leadership and vision until his death , continues to this day. During this time Aftimios consecrated three bishops for his new jurisdiction, Sophronios (Beshara) of Los Angeles, Joseph (Zuk) for the Ukrainians, who made up the American Synod and Ignatius (William Albert) Nichols in September of 1932 as his auxiliary bishop of Washington. Additionally, in 1931 the Society of Clerks Secular of St. Basil, a Western Rite group, was established under the auspices of this diocese and subsequently led by Nichols until he left the Church shortly after Aftimios married.

While at St. Mary's Church Abp. Ofiesh met Mariam Namey and they subsequently married in a civil ceremony in April of 1933.

Reports vary at this point as to what happened regarding Aftimios' episcopacy. Multiple false claims are made by the ethnic orthodox in North America about Aftimios. Some report that he was retired, some claim he deposed himself by his marriage and some even claim +Sophronius attempted to suspend his Archbishop. All can be easily proven false. Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh "DID NOT resign his episcopacy to marry." He continued as head of this Church until his death in 1966.

The original THEOCACNA that Aftimios headed characterizes the situation thus: "In 2003 the synod voted to declare ourselves the American Orthodox Patriarchate and elected our first Patriarch, Abp. Nikon, as head of this Church. The ethnic patriarchal orthodox bodies all turned their backs on this Church creating a Schism in American Orthodoxy (1929) and use the marriage of Abp. Aftimios (1933) as the reason, although they had already refused to recognize this Church and its authority in the New World."

The biography by Ofiesh's widow Mariam claims that Aftimios fully intended to function as a married bishop, having that intent even before he met Mariam. Mariam later sat on the corporate board of Trustees until 1999.

Whatever the case relations between the small jurisdiction headed by Abp. Aftimios and the mainstream Orthodox Church were not regularized prior to his marriage thus causing a Schism in American Orthodoxy. The marriage is only an excuse used to this day as to why the American Othodox Catholic Church (THEOCACNA) should not be considered the canonical church they were established to be. Since that time, numerous and still multiplying lines of succession of episcopi vagantes continue to claim they trace their roots to Aftimios most through Ignatius Nichols, many of whom regard Aftimios as a saint. These groups are denounced as Old Catholics by The Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America, the one and only Original Church headed by Abp. Ofiesh of blessed Memory who recognize him as a Martyr.

Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh
Martyr & Confessor of America

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