The Very Reverend Archimandrite
Gerasimos D. Rassias
The Very Reverend Archimandrite Gerasimos D. Rassias, "Father Jerry," died on Thursday, June 13, 2013, in Wilmington, Delaware at the age of 78. As always, he was surrounded by family and friends.
Fr. Jerry was born on April 16, 1935 on the Greek island of Kefalonia, known as the jewel of the Ionian Sea. During his childhood, he witnessed the occupation of the island by Nazi Germany as well as a massive earthquake that shook the island in 1953. In the aftermath of the occupation and earthquake, he left Greece in 1957 seeking a better life in America. Like many, he came through Ellis Island and began working in New York City. He also immediately began taking classes at New York University
. Despite the enormous challenge posed by a huge language barrier, he persevered with his education and eventually settled in Worchester, Massachusetts. He studied at Holy Cross and completed his Bachelor of Arts degree from Holy Cross Seminary. Always an exceptional student, he would later obtain his Masters in Theology from the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut and go on to complete his doctoral studies at the University of Salonica and Catholic University. Prior to that, he was admitted to study at Trinity College of Oxford University for post-graduate studies in divinity, and had even made all of the arrangements to return to Europe.
Fate intervened, however, and he met the love of his life, the former Georgia Karras from Asbury Park, New Jersey. Instead of going to Oxford, he soon became engaged and married, and together with his Presvytera Georgia, they would embark on a journey that would see them serve five parishes from 1963 until her untimely death in 2001 from breast cancer
During those 37 years, Father Jerry and Presvytera Georgia faithfully served the parishes of Saint Paul, Minnesota (St. George); Norwich, Connecticut (Holy Trinity); Camp Hill, Pennsylvania (Holy Trinity Cathedral); Manchester, New Hampshire (St. George Cathedral); and Wilmington, Delaware (Holy Trinity). He left Holy Trinity of Wilmington in 2000 to be with his ailing wife, and after her death in 2001, he resumed his ministry with vigor, serving parishes in Vineland, New Jersey (St. Anthony); Baltimore, Maryland (St. Nicholas); and finally, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (St. George Cathedral).
After serving those parishes with great distinction, he was appointed to the position of Chancellor/Vicar General of the Metropolis, covering communities in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, where he presided at the side of His Eminence Evangelos over matters of church high-governance. He retired from his service to the Metropolis in 2009.
In April of 2003, Fr. Jerry became an Archimandrite, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an Eastern Orthodox priest and an honor that theoretically placed him in line to be ordained a bishop. On June 3, 2013, he celebrated the fiftieth (50th) year of his ordination. He was regularly consulted by other priests on matters involving church protocol, and was called upon to translate sensitive documents for the United States government.
While clearly an academician and scholar in theology, Fr. Jerry's strength was always his great kindness, compassion, and leadership by example-- the true hallmark of his ministry in every parish he served. Many will also remember his tireless oversight and involvement in all aspects of parish life and community functions and organizations; simply put, he always participated personally in each and every event involving his church. His smile was omnipresent and he was always readily available for any member of the parish.
Father Jerry's ministry shines brightly and perpetually across the numerous parishes he served and the thousands of lives he touched. He is survived by his three sons, Dion, George and Peter, his two daughter-in-laws Gina and Amalea, his five grandchildren Jerry, Joanna, Georgia G., Nicholas, and Georgia X., his brothers Angelo and Nikitas, and sister Nikki.
His viewing will be held on Friday, June 14th beginning at 6 pm, at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 808 N. Broom Street, Wilmington, Delaware 19808; (302) 654-4446. On Saturday, June 15th, the Divine Liturgy will begin at 9:00 am with the funeral service beginning at 11:30, also at Holy Trinity. Interment will follow the service at Silverbrook Cemetery where he will be laid to eternal rest with his beloved Georgia. In lieu of flowers, the memory and spirit of Fr. Jerry will be best served through a donation to the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Wilmington.
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