The Very Reverend Father George Giannaris
AGE: 87 • Wilmington
The Very Reverend Father George Giannaris, known and loved as "Father George", 87, passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family on Sunday, March 16th. He had resided in Wilmington, Delaware with his Presbytera Mary. Fr. George was born in the village of Neohori, Greece, the first of five children of the late Katerina and Stefanos Giannaris on May 29, 1926.
Fr. George started his life in Greece but he and his family moved to Coatesville, PA when he was three years old. A few years later they moved back to Greece and Fr. George spent the rest of his childhood in the picturesque sea town of Nafpaktos. Fr. George excelled in academics and sports as a young man. He always had dueling keen interests in both politics and religion.
During the Greek civil war that followed WWII
, Fr. George fought bravely against the communist regime, was imprisoned and sentenced to be executed. He prayed to God to spare him in exchange for his service to God. He began his calling at the seminary, through the University of Athens, studying theology. Afterwards, he went to New York City to continue his efforts to become a priest. It was here that he met his future bride from Queens, Mary Croussouloudis. Together they would enter into a journey of dedication and compassionate service to numerous parishes and countless parishioners.
In June of 1956 Fr. George married his beloved, Mary and then a few weeks later he was ordained as a priest. Fr. George began his long and committed service to God and his parishioners at Holy Trinity in Harrisburg PA. It was at this church that Fr. George happily connected to a packed community every week and began delivering his signature dynamic, charismatic and well thought out sermons. After two years, he was transferred to Holy Trinity in Ambridge, PA and then assigned as an assistant priest at Holy Trinity in New York, NY.
The next assignment took Fr. George and Pres. Mary to the Midwest. He was the Head Chaplin at Waukegan Memorial Hospital. He served at St. Demetrios in Waukegan, IL where they also joyously welcomed the arrival of their daughters, Catherine and Joanne. Fr. George's next assignment was in Chicago, IL where he also took part in a religious radio show.
The family was transferred back east in 1970 to Sts. Constantine and Helen in Reading, PA where he served tirelessly for fifteen years. Fr. George made many significant improvements to the church both aesthetically and financially including procuring a beautiful new handcrafted iconostasi and helping them to pay off their mortgage. He worked days, nights and weekends to help solidify the community's financial position with his progressive fundraising ideas and careful planning.
Fr. George was involved in all aspects of the communities that he served from the youth groups to the elderly. He was always available for his parishioners whether it was to console the sick, give advice to newlyweds or just crack a joke and make someone smile. Fr. George had a unique ability to connect with people, uplift their spirits and lead them to a better place spiritually and emotionally.
Fr. George was not only a forward thinking man for the communities that he served but also for his fellow priests. He was an advocate for priest's rights including health care benefits, pensions and family care. He spoke at the Clergy - Laity Congress and expressed concern for the future of priests and their families.
Fr. George's last assigned community was at St. John's in Youngstown, OH where he served until June 1991. After a beautiful retirement party, Fr. George was once again willing to dedicate himself and help a new church in need. He spent the next two years in Frederick, Maryland helping to start Sts. Peter and Paul church. He and Pres. Mary helped to move the community from a temporary location to a permanent one that he helped obtain. After this, he officially retired and moved to Wilmington to be closer to his daughters and his grandchildren.
While living in Wilmington, Fr. George was called upon one last time to help out part time at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church. With love, he drove along the scenic rolling hills of PA every Sunday to the familiar childhood town of Coatesville, PA. He served part time at this church for 9 years. This community was a loving one that really appreciated his service and his talents. Fr. George touched many lives along his long and faithful journey with his beautiful singing voice, his wisdom, his compassion and his humor.
Fr. George is survived by his wife of 57 years, Mary, his two daughters, Cathy Ziccarelli and her husband Lou of Wilmington, Delaware, Joanne Giannaris and her husband Carlos Delgado of Houston, Texas, grandchildren Michael and Elena Ziccarelli and Niko Delgado, brothers, Alexander of Houston and Peter of Athens, Greece and many loving in-laws, nephews and nieces.
The family would like to thank family and friends for all their loving support and the caring nurses from Compassionate Care Hospice.
The viewing and services will be held on Friday, March 21st at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 808 N. Broom Street in Wilmington. The Divine Liturgy will begin at 9:00am; the viewing will follow at 10:30am with the funeral service beginning at 11:30am, also at Holy Trinity. The service will be officiated by His Emenince, Metropolitan Evangelos of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey. Interment will follow the service at Silverbrook Cemetery where he will be laid to eternal rest.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the
) or to Holy Trinity Church for a scholarship fund that will be created in Fr. George's memory to assist underprivileged students.
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