St. Alexis Toth of Wilkes-Barre (+May 7, 1909)
Commemorated May 7
St. Alexis was a Russian Orthodox church leader in the Midwestern United States who, after resigning his position as a Byzantine Catholic priest, became responsible for the conversions of approximately 20,000 Eastern Rite Catholicsto the Russian Orthodox Church, which contributed to the growth of Eastern Orthodoxy in the United Statesand the eventual establishment of the Orthodox Church in America.
St. Alexis was born to Father George and Cecilia Toth on March 14, 1853, in Kobylnice, the Szepes county of Slovakia(then a part of the Austrian Empire) during the reign of Franz Joseph. After completing his primary schooling, he attended a Roman Catholicseminaryfor one year, followed by three years in a Greek Catholic seminary and additional time at the University of Prague, where he graduated with a degree in Theology.
St. Alexis married Rosalie Mihalics on April 18, 1878, and was ordainedto the priesthoodin 1878. After the death of his wife and child, he served in local parishes.
In 1889, St. Alexis came to St. Mary’s Greek Catholic Church (Minneapolis, Minnesota in the United States) where he was refused permission to serve as a priest. As a result of this situation, St. Alexis sent letters to his bishop in Slovakia detailing his experience and requesting specific directions; however, he reportedly did not receive a reply.
Having heard nothing from his own bishop, St. Alexis and other Eastern Rite Catholic priests who had shared similar experiences began to look for a solution to their dilemma. In December 1890, they contacted the Russianconsulin San Francisco, California, asking to be put in touch with a Russian Orthodox bishopand St. Alexis formally entered the Russian Orthodox Church in March 1892. Following his conversion to Orthodoxy, St. Alexis tirelessly preached his new faith to other Eastern Rite Catholics in North America.
St. Alexis reposed in 1909.