SAN DIEGO – Fr. Theodore Phillips, 87, the first parish priest at Sts. Constantine and Helen Church in Cardiff, Calif., died Aug. 23 at his home. Fr. Theodore served at Cardiff from 1978 – 2006. Prior to that, he served at St. Spyridon Church in San Diego from 1965 – 1978. He began his ministry in December 1953 at St. Basil Church in Stockton, Calif., where he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood.

“I extend my sincere sympathy on the passing of our beloved Fr. Theodore. He was a priest that demonstrated the highest of values during his ministry, and was also striving to set a good example of Christian love to all those around him,” stated Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco. “It was just five months ago that Father Theodore grieved the passing of his devoted Presvytera Mary, and now they are reunited in the Lord’s heavenly kingdom, reaping the reward of eternal life.”

He was especially committed to the development of youth programs, which led to his involvement as a founder of what has become the largest youth ministry program in the Archdiocese – the Folk Dance and Choral Festival. During those early years, Fr. Theodore was a champion of this program and it brought him great joy to see it flourish so abundantly for the past 40 years.

He was born in Gary, Ind. on June 23, 1929, where he lived until he was three years old. His family then moved to Greece where he remained until he was 15. Following the completion of high school in Sacramento, Calif., he enrolled at Holy Cross School of Theology, where he received his Master of Divinity degree in 1953. Fr. Theodore would later continue his education by earning a Master of Arts in Clinical Pastoral Counseling from the University of the Pacific. He and Presvytera (Dimitra) Mary were married July 5, 1953.

In addition to his numerous responsibilities as a parish priest, Fr. Theodore served the civic community as chaplain for the State Hospital, and also on numerous boards including the Guadalupe Home for Boys, St. John’s Home for Boys, and the Trinity School for Children. He was a member of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and the Doctor-Clergy Association at Sharp Hospital in San Diego. He had retired in November 2006.

He was married to Presvytera Mary for 62 years until her passing on March 6, 2016. They were blessed with two children, Erys (Erasima) and Demetre, and with one grandson, Erik. Funeral services were held Aug. 29 beginning with Divine Liturgy at Sts. Constantine and Helen Church in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Calif. Memorials may be made to: Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church for the Fr. Theodore Phillips Scholarship Fund, 3459 Manchester Avenue, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007.