The Macedonian Tendency: Great PHD Thesis on Macedonian Emigre's

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Great PHD Thesis on Macedonian Emigre's

I have just discovered this PHD Thesis (328 pages) by Gregory Michaelidis, American-born to a Macedonian father from Greek Macedonia. I skimmed it and it has new material regarding the pro-Macedonian left in the US and Canada. Must read for students of Macedonian history in the US, Canada and Australia.

Gregory Michaelidis, Doctor of Philosophy, 2005

Extension of the Macedonian Orthodox Church to the Diaspora

There was immediate demand for Macedonian Orthodox Church parishes in the diaspora. The process of forming a new parish often began with several dozen men and women who felt the need for creating a central space for nashi, or countrymen, to gather, worship, and celebrate religious and cultural events. The church or social hall, once built, would replace the informal networks of coffee shops, saloons, and private homes where loose groups of the migrants previously had been meeting. The first step was the establishment of a building fund, followed by an appeal to the congress of Macedonian bishops in Skopje to send a priest to North America. It was the responsibility of a Metropolitan, or bishop, to balance the needs of the community with the considerable cost and time associated with training and ordaining a new Orthodox priest and then housing him abroad.

In tandem with the development of an autocephalous Macedonian Orthodox Church, diaspora communities pushed to establish parishes that conformed to their political and cultural outlook. The first effort toward building a Macedonian Church in the diaspora was not in North America but in Melbourne, Australia, and preceded even the declaration of the reconstituted Ohrid Archbishopric in 1957. A group of Macedonian immigrants rallied there on May 14, 1956, and declared, “The Macedonian immigration in Melbourne, led by the ideas of the glorious Illinden fighters for national and church liberation . . . are forced to build our own church due to the numerous difficulties we are experiencing with foreign churches.” When the Church opened as St. George’s a few years later it became the first Macedonian Church in the diaspora to repudiate connections to existing Orthodox synods. In that same month the first new Macedonian Church in North America, Sts. Peter and Paul, opened in Gary, Indiana. Macedonians in Columbus, Ohio, formed a council in June 1963 to explore forming a church there as well.

The United Macedonians also played a key role in promoting the Macedonian Orthodox Church in North America. In Toronto, for instance, those who pushed for a new parish were leading figures during the formation of the United Macedonians as well. Leaders of the Macedonian Orthodox church took political considerations into account when deciding on new parishes in the diaspora, and even indicated so in their reports from the field.90 The new Macedonian identity unapologetically mixed religion and politics. From the outset, groups like the UM understood the need to display its patriotism toward Canada and the U.S. and its nationalism for Macedonia. It relentlessly courted city, provincial, and national leaders to appear at the annual Illinden picnics.

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