The patron of our parish is Saint George the Great-martyr. Saint George is one of the most well-known and beloved of saints. Born into a Christian family in the region of Cappadocia, Saint George joined the Roman army when he came of age. Though admired by the Emperor Diocletian, Saint George was nonetheless eventually tortured and killed because of his steadfast faith. Standing against Diocletian because of his persecution of the Christians, the young saint openly confessed Christ. The outraged emperor attempted to both persuade and intimidate Saint George, inflicting many tortures upon him.
Because of his stalwart faith in the face of suffering and death, and because of the many miraculous events that occurred during his martyrdom, many witnesses became convinced of the truth of the Christianity. Thus, George is honored with the title Great-martyr. Saint George is commemorated on April 23rd. Click here to read more about his life.
The parish of Saint George is blessed to have been founded by another saint, Raphael (Hawaweeny) of Brooklyn. Saint Raphael arrived in New York City on November 14th, 1895, responding to an appeal of a group of Syrian-Lebanese immigrants in need of a priest who could minister in their native tongue. His first of two visits to Kearney occurred on September 20th, 1899, during one of his numerous missionary journeys across the United States. After this visit, he began organizing the local Arab Christians into a parish community.
Having served as a priest under the Russian Orthodox Church for several years, Saint Raphael was consecrated auxiliary bishop on March 13th, 1904. His last visit to Kearney just months before his repose on February 27th, 1915. Saint Raphael was recognized as a saint during a glorification service on May 29th, 2000, at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania. In the Antiochian Church, he is commemorated on the Saturday immediately prior to the Feast of the Synaxis of the Bodiless Powers of Heaven (November 8th); in the OCA, he is commemorated on February 27th. Click here to read more about the life of our beloved father among the saints, Raphael of Brooklyn.
Father Nicola Yanney, the congregation's founding priest, was a man of several notable firsts. He was ordained on April 3rd, 1904—the first priest ordained by Saint Raphael after his consecration to the episcopacy. Father Nicola was also the first Arab man ordained to the priesthood in the United States. Immediately after his ordination, Father Nicola was assigned as the priest of Saint George in Kearney, Nebraska, and, thus, became the first resident Arab Orthodox Christian priest west of the Mississippi River. He divided his time between ministering in Kearney and traveling to various communities throughout the region - teaching, holding services, and performing weddings and baptisms. The region covered by Father Nicola during his pastoral and missionary journeys was immense, extending from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River and from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. Selflessly ministering to the sick and suffering of his flock in Kearney during the influenza epidemic of 1918, Father Nicola fell victim to the flu. He died on October 29th, 1918. Click here to learn more about the life of Father Nicola.