New York – The Archdiocese Department of Religious Education has established the Fr. John Orfanakos Fund for the St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival Scholarship as a tribute to the late Co-Chairman of the Archdiocese Oratorical Festival. Fr. John fell asleep in the Lord on August 20, 2014. Fr. Orfanakos along with his wife, Presvytera Margaret, was the Co-Chairman of the Oratorical Festival for nearly three decades. At the Trisagion, Funeral Service, and Luncheon, his leadership with the Oratorical Festival was remembered. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios commented at the funeral services that Fr. Orfanakos’ commitment to the youth of the church, promoting the best from them, was a sign of his leadership in our Archdiocese.
As the thousands of National Finalists will recall, Fr. John was a presence, encouraging the speakers and their families. He helped them relax before their presentations. Behind the scenes, he was always asking about how to get more young people and parishes involved with the program. In addition, over the years he helped create the annual topics, form the rules and guidelines for the Festival, worked with judges, and helped resolve any problems when they arose.
The Reverend John P. Orfanakos was born on February 7, 1932 in Xirokampion, Sparta, Greece. His parents, the Reverend Panagiotis and Presvytera Stavroula also had three other children, Kalliope (Papadakos), Clifton, NJ, the late Reverend Demetrios and the Reverend Konstantinos Orfanakos, Sparta, Greece.
Upon Fr. John’s graduation from high school in 1951 he immigrated to the United States and settled in Brooklyn. After working for a few years to help support his family in Greece, he enrolled in Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline, Mass.
In June of 1962 he married Margaret Pavlides, and in the same year was ordained both to the diaconate and priesthood. His first assignment was the Assumption Church in Danbury, Conn. After a successful ministry of five years, Fr. John was assigned to the Saint George Church in Passaic, NJ, now in Clifton, on October 15, 1967, a community he has served for over forty years, overseeing the growth of the parish from sixty-one families to well over five hundred families today. He also oversaw the construction of the church’s basilica and facilities housing the parish’s classrooms, community center, and gymnasium.
Fr. John is the recipient of the following offikia: Sakellarios and Pnevmatikos in 1974; Economos in November in 1978, Protopresbyter in 1984 and Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1986.
Serving God as a Priest since 1962, Fr. John instructed hundreds of young men to serve as Acolytes. He always considered it an important aspect of his ministry to encourage them to enter the priesthood. Among those who followed his lead were: The Reverend Dr. Emmanuel Clapsis, The Reverend Elias Scoulas, The Reverend Konstantine Mendrinos, The Reverend Paul Kaplanis, The Reverend Michael Monos, Michael Diamond and his own two sons, Reverend Peter and George.
Fr. John and Presvytera Margaret have four children. Stephanie, who passed away at twenty-two months old; Reverend Peter Orfanakos and his wife Vangie; George Orfanakos and his wife Maria; and Katherine and her husband Dr. George Demacopoulos. Fr. John has nine grandchildren.
Donations to the Orfanakos Fund can be made and sent to the Oratorical Festival Scholarship – Orfanakos Fund, Department of Religious Education, 50 Goddard Avenue, Brookline, MA 02445. The funds will be used to create a special scholarship award in memory of Fr. John. For information about donating appreciated securities, contact the Department of Religious Education at [email protected]
Contact Info: Anton Vrame, Director, Department of Religious Education [email protected]