New York, NY - His Grace Bishop George, 66, died suddenly early this morning in Bethesda, MD, soon after collapsing at a function at St. George Church. He was rushed to a nearby hospital and several hours later was pronounced dead from a massive stroke.
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, on hearing of Bishop Georges passing while visiting at Hellenic College/Holy Cross in Brookline, MA, issued the following statement:
This is a tremendous loss for the Church. Bishop George has been an invaluable, dedicated worker in the Vineyard of the Lord giving everything that he had in the service of His people. In spite of the brevity of his hierarchical ministry, he achieved remarkable spiritual and pastoral results.
I pray fervently for the rest of his soul among the saints and the righteous, and the hope and faith that God will raise in his place devoted brothers of the same faith and dedication.
My special condolences and prayers are offered to his beloved family. May His Memory be Eternal.
His Grace Bishop Demetrios of Xanthos, presided at a Trisagion (prayer service) offered in Bishop Georges memory at the Archdiocese Monday morning.
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.
Bishop George served as Archiepiscopal Vicar from August 26th to September 19th and was responsible for all the arrangements for the enthronement the Archbishop Demetrios of America. Most recently, he had assumed the chairmanship of the Clergy-Laity Congress scheduled to be held in Philadelphia next summer.
Funeral arrangements will be announced tomorrow.