1999 News Archives

Funeral Arrangements Complete for His Grace Bishop George of New Jersey

New York, NY - Funeral arrangements have been announced for His Grace Bishop George of New Jersey who fell asleep in the Lord on November 22nd following a massive stroke. According to Father Alexander Leondis, Chancellor of the Diocese of New Jersey, the funeral will take place on Saturday, Nov. 27th at St. George Church, Bethesda, MD. He will lay in state at St. George Church on Friday, November 26th from 10 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.

His Eminence Metropolitan Maximos, Presiding Hierarch of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, assisted by hierarchs and clergy of the Archdiocese, will celebrate the Divine Liturgy beginning at 9:00 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 27th at St. George Church.

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, will preside at the funeral service at 10:30 a.m. Interment will follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Aspen Hill, MD, where Bishop George will be laid to rest next to his beloved Presvytera Maria.

Bishop George (Papaioannou) was enthroned as Bishop of New Jersey on April 17,1999. Prior to his elevation to the episcopacy on June 13, 1998, he had served as pastor of St. George Church, Bethesda, MD, for 27 years. A widower, Bishop George and his late Presvytera Maria had three married daughters and six grandchildren. Bishop George was the first bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church in America to come from the ranks of married priests. His wife Maria died in 1993.

The Diocese of New Jersey consists of 52 parishes in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

His Grace, 66, collapsed while speaking Sunday evening at a parish Stewardship celebratory dinner being held in the Presvytera Maria Grand Hall at St. George Church. He had celebrated the Divine Liturgy that morning at St. Katherine’s Church in Falls Church, VA, and, though tired, made a last minute decision to attend the dinner. He was speaking of his love for the parish of St. George, and the people whom he considered his family before collapsing into his chair and complaining of dizziness, he finished his remarks saying, “I am a steward of this church and I will be until the day I die, I love you.” He was rushed to nearby Suburban Hospital where he was placed on life support. With his three daughters present and with their consent, the life support systems were withdrawn, and he died about 3 a.m.

A native of Prodomos, Thebes (Greece), Bishop George was a 1957 graduate of the Patriarchal Theological School of Halki (Constantinople) and his pastoral assignments included the Church of the Virgin Mary in Constantinople; St. Demetrios Church, Hamilton, Ontario,Canada; and St. George Cathedral, Manchester, NH. He pursued graduate studies in Church History at Boston University and received his Doctor of Theology degree in 1976. His dissertation was entitled Patriarch Athenagoras and the Greek Orthodox Church of America.

A historian and scholar, Bishop George had written several books including: From Mars Hill to Manhattan: The History of the Archdiocese of North and South America, the Odyssey of Hellenism in America and The Diamond Jubilee of the Greek Archdiocese of America, 1922-1997. Bishop George was well known to the Greek Orthodox faithful in America and abroad for his popular column, “Tell Me, Father,” which he wrote on a regular basis for twelve years in the Orthodox Observer.

Most recently, Bishop George served as Archiepiscopal Vicar from August 26th to September 19th, 1999, and was responsible for all the enthronement arrangements of Archbishop Demetrios of America. He also had been appointed chairman of the Clergy-Laity Congress scheduled to be held in Philadelphia next summer.

Bishop George is survived by three daughters and sons-in-law, Alexandra and John Mosko, Eleni and George Spirou and Vasiliki and Charles Szczesny, six grandchildren and a brother, Elias Papaioannou.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Diocese of New Jersey in support of the goals of His Grace for the Diocese and the education of future clergy. Mail to: Diocese of New Jersey, St. George Church, 7701 Bradley Boulevard, Bethesda, MD, 20817.

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