Diocese: Diocese of New York and New Jersey
Deanery: New York City Deanery
228 N 12th St
Brooklyn (Williamsburg), New York 11211
The Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Transfiguration of our Lord is located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, on the southeast corner of the intersection of Driggs Ave and N 12th St.
From the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (Rt 278) north or east bound
Exit at Metropolitan Ave and Williamsburg Bridge (exit 32) and proceed along service road 2 lights to Union Ave. Turn left onto Union and proceed to North 12th St. Go about one block and the Cathedral will be on the left.
From the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (Rt 278) south or west bound
Exit at Metropolitan (Exit 32B) and turn right onto Union Ave. Proceed down Union 3 blocks (to the park) to North 12th St. Proceed down about 1 block, the Cathedral will be on the left.
From Long Island
Take the Long Island Expressway (Rt 495) west to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (Rt 278) west/south. Exit at Metropolitan Ave (Exit 32B) and tirn rightonto Union Ave. Proceed down Union 3 blocks (to the park) to North 12th St. Proceed down about 1 block, the Cathedral will be on the left.
We are 5 blocks from the Bedford Ave station on the L Train (14th St-Canarsie Line). Walk 4 blocks north on Bedford Ave and 1 block east to Driggs Ave.
We are a stroll through McCarren park from the Nassau Ave Station of the G Line. Walk south on Nassau Ave then diagonally southeast through the park. You can’t miss seeing the Cathedral standing on the other side of the park.
The B61 bus runs between Jackson Ave / Queens Plaza south in Long Island City. If coming northbound, get off at Bedford Ave and N 12th St, and walk one block east. If coming southbound, get off at Driggs Ave and N 12 St, and cross street to Cathedral.
Schedule of Services
4:00 PM Vespers (Fall and Winter). 6:00 PM Vespers (Spring and Summer)
9:00 AM Divine Liturgy followed by Church School and fellowship hour.
Confessions are heard one half-hour before all Liturgies and following Saturday evening Vigil.
Call 718-387-1064 for Holy Days and other seasonal services.
The founders of this parish came from Galicia, a crownland of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, located in the southeastern section of today’s Poland, north of the Carpathian Mountains. Due to economic problems and crop failures, the migration to America began about 1880. Answering the need for cheap labor and the availability of low cost housing, they settled in the Williamsburg and Greenpoint areas of Brooklyn, Blissville and Maspeth sections of Queens.
Liturgical services were first held in the home of Lukas Taras, who lived on North 7th St in Williamsburg. Upon locating more fellow countrymen who wanted to start an Orthodox Church, they collected $160. This was used as a down payment with a mortgage of $16,000 to purchase a vacant wooden Methodist Church (1859). It was located at North 5th St and Bedford Ave. The church was named after St Vladimir. The building was renovated to conform to Orthodox traditions, including a beautiful hand-carved 3 tier oak iconostas constructed by a German firm Dopple. Various organizations contributed all the necessary liturgical items.
On Saturday, April 5, 1908, the first Vespers service was served and on Sunday, April 6, 1908, the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated. Both services were celebrated by (Saint) Archpriest Alexander Hotovitsky from St Nicholas Cathedral. The first rector was the Rev Theophan Buketoff, who came from Montreal, Canada.
As the parish grew, a larger church was needed. A site was found halfway between Williamsburg and Greenpoint consisting of 5 building lots on the corner of North 12th St and Driggs Ave, purchased for $16,000. The architect, Louis Allmendiger based his design for the new church on the Cathedral of the Dormition within the Moscow Kremlin, having 5 domes supported by four large columns. The Schneider Company was contracted to build it for $117,000. Work began in 1916.
World War I created material shortages and insufficient funds delaying completion. Due to the shortage of funds, the N 5th St church was sold in 1919, and church services were conducted in the incomplete building. The Rev John Krohmalney led a drive to complete the church whose cost had risen by $20,000. Various organizations and individuals donated the stained glass windows, and the Trinity Brotherhood donated to 1002 lbs, tone “A” bell.
Two additional altars were added. The north one was dedicated to St Vladimir. The center one was to the Transfiguration of our Lord and the south one was dedicated to the Protection of the Holy Virgin Mary. This required two additions to the original iconostas that was transferred from the N 5th St church.
Metropolitan Platon consecrated the church on September 3, 1922. Patriarch (Saint) Tikhon presented the parish with the revered Holy Icon of the Mother of God of Pochaev, which now hangs in a place of honor over the Royal Doors. The back has an inscription “In Blessing to the Russian Orthodox people of Brooklyn”.
The Depression put the parish into financial difficulty. Loans made by individuals and organizations could not be paid, people were begging for repayment. The church committee was afraid it might have to close the church. The VRev Constantine Buketoff arrived in February 1932 from Bayonne, NJ. With the assisting church committee, the slow, painful job of paying off loans was accomplished. It is said that through the parishioners’ “nickels and dimes”, the church finally became debt free. Metropolitan Leonty ceremonially “burned the mortgage” in October 1950.
With the help of Matushka Mallitza Buketoff, the Sisterhood of Myrrhbearing Women was founded in 1932.
By a decision of the Synod of Bishops, Transfiguration Church was raised to the rank of Cathedral in 1932.
With the returning veterans of World War II, English was introduced into the Divine Liturg in 1946.
By a decision of the Bishops’ Sobor, Fr Constantine was awarded the Mitre by Bishop John in 1952, for his many accomplishments in organizing Orthodox churches.
With the birth of the “Baby Boomers” after the war, a Church Sunday School was organized in 1949.
Rev Nicholas Yuschak was ordained in the Church on November 7, 1953. This began the era of two priestts being attached to Transfiguration. English Divine Liturgy was served at 8:30 AM and Slavonic Divine Liturgy was served at 10:00 AM, with Sunday School classes held at 10. Rev Daniel Hubiak followed as the next second priest. During this period, the Sunday School had over 150 students.
Rev Alvian Smirensky was ordained on September 14, 1958 replacing Fr Hubiak. Rev Innokenty Semoff followed Fr Alvian in 1961. Rt Rev Constantine Buketoff retired in September 1964, having faithfully served Transfiguration Cathedral for 32 years. Due to circumstances at the time, the era of two priests attached to the Cathedral ended.
VRev Igor Tkachuk was appointed Rector on October 1, 1966. Through his guidance and efforts, restoration and beautification of the church continued. The Cathedral now contains beautiful and irreplacable Icons, Gospels, and liturgical items. During his tenure, one of our parishioners, John Sokolich was tonsured a Reader, reaching the rank of Protodeacon, the first attached deacon of the Cathedral. He was later joined by Dn Alexis Bona. Fr Igor retired in October 1984, and was made Pastor Emeritus by Archbishop Peter of New York. Fr Igor fell asleep in the Lord on November 8, 1995.
VRev Anatoly Fiedoruk followed Fr Tkachuk as Acting Rector. VRev Boris P Vlasenko arrived in August 1986 and served until his retirement in 1991. Rev Wiaczeslaw Krawczuk arrived in November 1992 and is the present Rector. In 1993, Peter Andryuk was ordained Subdeacon and in 1996, Boris Slootsky was ordained Deacon. In April 1997, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America elevated Father Wiaczeslaw to the rank of Archpriest, and in March 2004, the Holy Synod of Bishops presented the honor of the Jeweled Cross to Father Wiaczeslaw in recognition of his faithfulness and priestly ministry.
The children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of the forebearers of Transfiguration Cathedral are members and/or founders of Orthodox parishes scattered throughout the United States, especially those organized in the 50s and 60s.
The 5 copper cupolas topped with Patriarchal crosses are visible far and wide in the New York area. It is considered the largest of about 25 churches in the New York Metropolitan area. Its well-known picture has appeared in local, national and international newspapers and magazines. The historic picture taken in 1922 was displayed at the American Exposition in Moscow to show a Russian Orthodox Church in the United States (1954). Viewers have seen it in commercials, on television, and in the movie “House on Carroll Street”.
Stories and pictures of the Cathedral have appeared in various books. Among them are The History of New York City, of Brooklyn, The Architects Guide to New York City, and Landmarks of New York State. On November 19, 1969, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Transfiguration of our Lord a landmark of New York City. In recognition of its historical and architectural significance, it was listed on the National Register of Historical Places by the United States Department of the Interior, April 16, 1980.
In 1996 all of the parishioners decided that our over 80-year-old Cathedral needed general renovation and that our focus should be on the cupolas, windows, and roof. The lowest contract bid in 1999 was $1.4 million; $1.6 million in 2000. Because the parish did not have this amount of money, we tried to get grants from the federal government. After a few years of striving for a grant, we received $350,000 from the Parks Department. Even though we received a grant, galloping inflation raised the cost of the project again. In 2003 a contract was signed to work on the first phase of the project (5 cupolas and windows), which was completed in 2004. Now we are working on collecting funds for the second phase of the restoration project (the roof).
The year 2008 marks our Centennial Year. We would like to invite everyone to celebrate this great event with us on September 13-14, 2008.