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David Mahaffey

1952 - 2020
David Mahaffey Obituary

On Nov. 27, 2020, His Eminence, the Most Rev. David (Mahaffey), Archbishop of Sitka and Alaska, fell asleep in the Lord after a grave illness. He was the ruling hierarch of the Diocese of Alaska of the Orthodox Church in America from 2014 until his repose.

Sterry David Mahaffey Jr. was born in Altoona, Pa., on May 25, 1952. He was raised in the United Methodist Church, where he was actively involved in youth activities and eventually became a lay minister. After graduating from high school, he was employed in various jobs for over two decades, until he devoted himself fully to the church. At this time, he also studied at Indiana University of Pennsylvania for two years (1970-72) and met Karen Meterko, whom he married on May 5, 1973, at SS. Peter and Paul Church in Urey, Pa.

The young couple initially attended both Methodist and Orthodox services every Sunday. David Mahaffey was soon drawn to explore the Orthodox faith and after attending the 1975 Memorial Day Pilgrimage at St. Tikhon's Monastery, he decided to seek reception into the Orthodox Church. He was chrismated on Nov. 16, 1975, by Fr. Raphael Rozdilski at his wife's parish, where their wedding had taken place. He soon enrolled in the Late Vocations Program of the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, graduating in 1980. Before leaving the Pittsburgh see when he was elected OCA Primate in 1977, Bishop Theodosius (Lazor) tonsured David Mahaffey a reader. Bishop Kyrill (Yonchev) of Pittsburgh would later ordain him a subdeacon and then a deacon on April 12, 1981. Deacon David would serve in various parishes to assist priests or would accompany the bishop for archpastoral visitations throughout the diocese. On occasion, the bishop would send him to serve Typika alone at parishes that did not have a priest.

In 1992, Deacon David was inspired to leave secular employment and to undertake studies at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary. Having sold their house, his wife and four children lived with her parents for a year as Deacon David began his studies. The family was reunited when Deacon David was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by Archbishop Kyrill on July 31, 1993, and assigned to service St. Michael's Church in Old Forge, Pa. After completing his seminary studies with honors in 1997, he was assigned as rector of the parish and would remain there until 2006. At the same time, he continued his education, earning two bachelor's degrees (2003), magna cum laude, in theology and philosophy and a master's degree (2005) in theology, all from the University of Scranton.

A year after his assignment to Holy Trinity Church in Pottstown, Pa., in 2006, Matushka Karen fell asleep in the Lord, after battling cancer. Father David was transferred to St. Nicholas Church in Bethlehem, Pa., in 2009.

Delegates to the Assembly of the Diocese of Alaska on Sept. 15, 2012, nominated Father David to fill the vacant Alaskan see. He was tonsured a Riasophore Monk on Sept. 23, 2012, by Archbishop Tikhon of Philadelphia at St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery Church. After his subsequent tonsure to the Lesser Schema on Feb. 10, 2013, by Igumen Sergius (Bowyer), Abbot of Saint Tikhon's Monastery, Hieromonk David was released from the pastorate at Saint Nicholas Church and the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania, raised to the rank of Archimandrite and appointed chancellor and administrator of the Diocese of Alaska, effective March 1, 2013.

Archimandrite David (Mahaffey) was elected by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America to fill the vacant Episcopal See of Sitka and Alaska on Oct. 16, 2013.

He was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Sitka and Alaska on Feb. 21, 2014.

Throughout his diaconate and priesthood, Father David had served as education coordinator at various levels, developing educational software, lecturing and conducting retreats, particularly for youth, in both the Eastern and Western Pennsylvania dioceses. During his priestly service in the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania, he held several administrative positions including district dean and Metropolitan Council member. From 2005 until his departure to Alaska, he taught at St. Tikhon's Seminary and Alvernia University in Philadelphia, Pa.

During his episcopal tenure in Alaska, Archbishop David traveled tirelessly and worked energetically to inspire and educate the flock consisting largely of the native peoples of the oldest diocese of the Orthodox Church in America.

Archbishop David is survived by his four children, Nikolas David and wife, Angela and their sons, Daniel and Benjamin; Sterry Michael and wife, Cassandra and their children, Caitrin, Emilia and Abaigeal; Seth Robert and wife, Denise; and Kyra Ann Lezinsky and husband, Peter and their daughters, Brooke and Victoria; a sister, Sally Long and husband, David; and a brother, Robert Mahaffey. He is also gratefully remembered by the faithful flock in the places where he served and taught in Pennsylvania and Alaska.

In addition to his wife, he was preceded in death by his parents, Sterry and Sara Mahaffey.

Family and friends may call Tuesday, Dec. 1, at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, 401 E. Main St., Wilkes-Barre from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Panikhida, 3:30 p.m. Funeral service at 6 p.m. In keeping with federal, state, and diocesan guidelines, those attending the viewing and/or funeral service are required to wear a facial covering and observe social distancing. Burial in St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery Cemetery, South Canaan, will be privately held.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Matushka Karen Mahaffey Scholarship Fund, St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary, PO Box 130 South Canaan, PA 18459.

May Archbishop David's memory be eternal!

Arrangements and care entrusted to the Semian Funeral Home LLC, 704 Union St., Taylor, PA 18517. Please visit www.semian

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