The Very Reverend Father
The Very Reverend Father Gregory Ofiesh, born Raymond Ofiesh, passed away surrounded by his family at his Millbrae home on August 11, 2021, two days before his 90th birthday. Fr. Gregory was born on August 13th, 1931 in New Kensington, PA to the late Khouyria Emily Ofiesh and the Very Reverend Father Nicholas Ofiesh, of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church. The 10thof 13 children, upon his graduation from New Kensington High School, he earned a Certificate in Business and Accounting from New Kensington Commercial College. He then attended Duquesne University where he received a BA in Philosophy with a minor in Latin and Greek. He then studied Theology at Holy Cross Theological Seminary in Brookline, MA and ultimately received his BA in Theology from St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York, NY. In 1958 he received a MA degree in Religious Education with a minor in Pastoral Psychology. At the University of Pittsburgh he studied Psychology and Child Development, and held teaching credentials in History and Political Science.
Father Gregory met his beloved wife Mary Jane (Saleet) from Natrona Heights, PA at his father's church in New Kensington, PA. They were married in February, 1959 and he was ordained an Orthodox Christian Priest in the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America in March, 1959. From 1959-1964 he was pastor of St. Elijah Orthodox Church in Oklahoma City, OK and from 1964 until 2000 he was pastor of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in San Francisco, CA where he remained Pastor Emeritus. Father Gregory was active in the Bay Area at many levels including prison ministry, immigration, criminal justice and the social and educational needs of those less fortunate than most. Over the years he worked with key figures on issues related to Arab American Immigration and Anti-Discrimination, the Middle East conflict and the rights of all children and youth, including working with Pope Paul VI, Presidents Eisenhower, Johnson and Bush and local Mayors, George Christopher, George Moscone, Jack Shelley, Joe Allioto and Art Agnos. A tireless advocate of children in the juvenile justice system, he founded six residential group homes for children who were wards of the court, St. Nicholas Youth Homes.Upon retirement at St. Nicholas he was honored to assist on the alter with his friend and brother in Christ, Fr. Stephen Kyriacou at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in San Francisco, whose parishioners he loved and enjoyed getting to know.
Personally, Father Gregory loved to read history, politics and philosophy and enjoyed swimming as often as possible. He was often seen at his children's businesses in San Mateo (Nick's Deli) and South San Francisco (Raymond's Sourdough Bakery Corporation) laughing and socializing with the local community. He loved San Francisco with all his heart and was proud of his community. His last five years and passing was graced with the love and care of Pela Manukainiu, Soko Tau, FatanBarranti and Dr. Paul Fitzgerald of UCSF for which the family will be eternally grateful. Fr. Gregory is survived by his wife Khouyria Mary Jane Ofiesh of Millbrae, CA, his children, Nicholas Ofiesh, Nicole Ofiesh, Raymond Ofiesh and Michael Ofiesh, his granddaughter Mary Jane Peters, and his sisters Madeline Kayafas of Clearwater, FL and Minerva Matthews of New Kensington, PA. He is preceded in death by his parents, The Very Reverend Father Nicholas Ofiesh and Khouryia Emily Ofiesh and his siblings, Gladys Beter, Dr. Gabriel Ofiesh, George Ofiesh, Albert Ofiesh, Nadia Ward, Dr. Catherine Orner, Virginia Ofiesh, Elayne Ofiesh, Neal Ofiesh and Edward Ofiesh.
Prior to his passing Fr. Gregory requested that any donations be made to St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, 5200 Diamond Heights Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94131. A Divine Liturgy took place at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, San Francisco. Additional services will be celebrated in his hometown at St. George Orthodox Church, 1150 Leishman Ave, New Kensington, PA 15068. Burial to follow Greenwood Cemetery.
Published by San Francisco Chronicle from Aug. 13 to Aug. 15, 2021.