The first Syrian and Lebanese immigrants arrived in Minnesota
in the 1890's. In the St. Paul area they settled primarily on
St. Paul's West Side.
Dating from the arrival of the first Orthodox immigrants in St.
Paul until 1913 they were informally organized as a religious
group. Services were held in the home of Mr. George Toby by visiting
priests from other Orthodox Churches. In the early days, the Syrian
Orthodox were visited on at least three occasions by their Bishop,
the newly canonized St. Raphael Hawaweeny.
St. George Syrian Orthodox Church was formally organized and
founded in 1913 on St. Paul's West Side by Syrian immigrants.
An Episcopal Church located at Clinton and Isabel Streets was
purchased and adapted for Orthodox liturgical needs. A few years
later a house adjacent to the Church was purchased for use by
the parish priest. A parish hall was also purchased a few blocks
away from the Church.
The Church was officially dedicated in 1915 by Metropolitan Germanos
Shehadi, at which time our first parish priest, Reverend Elias
Sady, was ordained. Since then many priests have served our parish,
among them: Rev. John Karsha, Re., Andraous Nassart, Rev. Baselous
Nader, Rev. Elia Hamati, Rev. Seraphim Nassar, Rev. Peter LaZar,
Rev. Michael Deeba, Rev. Baselous Mafouse, Re., Gerasmeos Yared,
Rev. John Chrysostom, Rev. Thomas Skaff, Very Rev. Essa Kanavati,
Rev. Gregory Reynolds, Rev. Daniel Simon, Very Rev. John G. Khoury,
and Rt. Rev'd Archimandrite John Mangels who has been our parish
priest since August 1998.
As the Church on the West Side began to deteriorate and parishioners
moved out of the area surrounding the Church, five acres of land
in the suburb of West St. Paul were purchased in 1968 for a future
complex. The old Church was acquired by the Paul Redevelopment
Authority. Also, about this time a major reorganization took place
in the governing of the parish, Our first Parish Council was organized,
replacing a Men's Society form of governance which served our
parish well in earlier times.
All of 1972 was spent planning with an architect for a multipurpose
building to be used for worship and social purposes, with a special
section for religious education. The multipurpose hall was constructed
during 1973 and our first service was held in February 1974.
The second phase of our building program was completed in 1975
with the construction of a new parish home adjacent to our multi-purpose
The third phase of our building program began in 1980 with a
year of planning and meeting with our architect, E. A. Sovik,
to design a Byzantine-style Church in keeping with Orthodox tradition
while also blending in the best of 20th century concepts.
Construction of a new Byzantine-style Church began in 1981. The
Church was planned to seat approximately 300 people and include
a beautiful gold dome, an icon of Christ in the dome painted by
iconographer Rev. John Matusiak, assisted by Father John Khoury
and parishioner Jo Anne Droubie.
Our first service in the new Church was held in March 1982, with
the official consecration scheduled for September 11, 1983 by
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip Saliba.
1998 brought about the unification of the two Antiochian Parishes
in St. Paul. After a year of negotiation, St. Mary's parish on
So. Robert St. and St. George were formally united in a single
Antiochian witness with the blessing of Metropolitan Philip. Father
John Khoury retired after 30 years of Service to the Community
of St. George and Father John Mangels was appointed pastor. With
the bringing together of two communities there is need for a major
expansion of the facilities. In 2001 a large new Parish Hall will
be built and the current hall will be enlarged and completely
rebuilt to accommodate a fast growing Church School Program and
administration complex. The St. George Parish Family is made of
many of the descendants of the original Middle Eastern families
and a great many converts and people from other Orthodox backgrounds.