The beloved servant of God, the Very Rev. Mitred Archpriest Eugene P. Pianovich peacefully fell asleep in the Lord on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021, in Geisinger Community Medical Center, Scranton, surrounded by family.
Born March 16, 1929, in Olyphant, son of the late the V. Rev. Archpriest Paul and Matushka Anastasia Gambal, rector of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church from 1927 to 1935.
Father Eugene was educated from Nanticoke High School, where his late father was the pastor of St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church for many years. After graduation, Father Eugene entered St. Tikhon’s Preparatory and Theological Seminary, graduating in the class of 1950, after which he became choir director at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Yonkers, N.Y., until his ordination.
On Feb. 4, 1951, Father Eugene married Joanna Sweda of Olyphant, who predeceased him on Jan. 14, 2012, after over 60 beautiful years of marriage.
On March 4, 1951, he was ordained to the Holy Diaconate, then to the Holy Priesthood on April 6, 1951, after which he received his first assignment as the assistant pastor of Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre, under the rector, the late Father John Krashkevich, whom he admired greatly.
During his time in Wilkes-Barre, the young and energetic Father Eugene worked diligently in advancing the Orthodox faith, conducting for the first time, Orthodox services on television in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was also the first Orthodox priest appointed as Chaplain of the VA Hospital in Plains. He also lectured on numerous occasions at St. Tikhon’s Seminary, invited by the late Metropolitan Leonty (Turkevich) of thrice blessed memory. He remained at Holy Resurrection until October 1958, when he was appointed rector of Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church in Springfield, Mass., where he remained until his retirement on Jan. 1, 2003, being assigned by Metropolitan Herman to the Monastery Church of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk.
During his tenure at Ss. Peter and Paul, Father Eugene served as spiritual director of the Diocesan Religious Education Department under the direction of the national director, Father John Kivko. In 1965, Father Eugene was elevated to Archpriest and subsequently elected Dean of the Connecticut Deanery as well as representative for New England on the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in America. He was the vice president of the New England Diocesan Council under the late Archbishop, Dimitri (Royster), later being appointed the New England Diocesan Chancellor in 1974. Throughout this period, Father Eugene worked steadfastly in propagating the Orthodox faith among the younger generation of Orthodox Christians.
In addition to his church duties, Father Eugene was active on the Springfield, Mass. Parents Advisory Council of the Springfield School Board for many years and the Springfield City Council committee on school vandalism. He also was well known for his religious radio programs on WHYN on Sunday mornings for well over eight years. Another achievement was his appointment as the first Orthodox Chaplain of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Since his retirement, Father Eugene has faithfully served first at All Saints Orthodox Church, Olyphant, and until his falling asleep at the Church of his birth and baptism, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Olyphant, with the pastor, Father Vladimir Fetcho, who the entire family owes a deep debt of gratitude for his love and friendship with our father and grandfather for these many years.
Lastly, after 69 years of Holy Priesthood, in May 2019, Father Eugene received the Mitre from His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon and the Bishops of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America for his many years of loving service before the Holy Altar of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
He was preceded in death by his brother, Dr. Alexander P Pianovich (Katherine); and his sisters, Helen Tellep (William); and Olga Klimkowsky (Peter).
Father Eugene is survived by his children, Matushka Myra Kovalak (Mitred Archpriest Daniel); Matushka Eugenia Perich (Archpriest John); Matushka Joanna Bohush (the late Priest John); and Mark Pianovich (Gloria); as well as his grandchildren, Daria Fravel (Archpriest Barnabas); Tatiana Bohush, Taisia Perich (Dylan); Natalia Seewald (Matthew); John Bohush (Anastasia); Alixandra Porrini; and Mark Paul Pianovich; and his great-grandchildren, Myra, Matthew, Joey, Natalia, Lydia, Kira and John, all of whom will greatly miss their dear beloved Father Eugene.