Dyker Heights

Historic Syrian cathedral honors Fr. Thomas Zain for his 30 years in as a priest

129-year-old St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral located in downtown Brooklyn has been his spiritual home for 27 years 

May 17, 2024 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
The exterior of St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral of Brooklyn. Photo courtesy of The Very Rev. Fr. Thomas Zain
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DYKER HTS. AND BOERUM HILL — The Very Rev. Fr. Thomas Zain was feted last week at a sold-out event at the Dyker Beach Golf Course for his 30 years as a priest, 27 of these leading a historic cathedral in Boerum Hill. Fr. Zain, who arrived in 1997 at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral on State Street and then elevated to archpriest in 2005, was in 2011 appointed the Vicar-General of the archdiocese — one of the two highest positions a priest can hold in the archdiocese and one in which he continues to serve. 

St. Nicholas Cathedral originated as a Syrian mission community in 1895 under the auspices of the Russian Orthodox Church and its primate of the Russian Church in North America. The primate, Tikhon, appointed a vicar bishop named Raphael to lead the Syrian mission, whose first location was in Manhattan. The growing congregation moved to a church on Pacific St. in Brooklyn in 1902 and then in 1920 years later to its present location, a former Episcopal church. The cathedral holds the reliquary of its founder, Raphael of Brooklyn, who was canonized as a saint in 2000. St. Raphael’s feast day is Nov. 4.

The architecture of the Pacific Street Church (now occupied by a Spanish-language congregation) was distinctive for its onion-dome towers, found throughout Europe and especially in Russia.

The Very Rev. Fr. Thomas Zain. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman
The Very Rev. Fr. Thomas Zain. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman
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