On Monday, January 3, Archpriest Stavros Rousos (retired cleric of St. Nicholas Church in Endicott, NY), reposed in the Lord after complications from the Coronavirus. He was 68 years old.
Fr. Stavros was born Stevens H. Rousos in Miami, FL, on August 19, 1953, to Stevens James and Patricia Ann (née Young) Rousos. While an infant, young Stevens was baptized at St. Sophia Greek Church in Miami and received the name Stavros as his Christian name. He spent his teenage years in Paterson, NJ, graduating second in his class from John F. Kennedy High School in 1971. Upon graduation, Stavros received a Congressional Appointment to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado. Cadet Rousos spent a year at the USAFA and received the Commandant’s Medal for military excellence. However, his strongest desire was to attend an Orthodox seminary and become an Orthodox priest. After receiving his Honorable Discharge from the Air Force in June 1972, Stavros began attending St. Tikhon Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan, PA, in September 1972. During his five-year seminary program, he was tonsured a reader on the feast of the Protection – October 14, 1975. He was also active in student life and served as secretary in the OISM (Orthodox Inter-Seminary Movement) organization.
During his seminary years, Stavros met the "love of his life" and on May 1, 1977, married Deborah Yurchak, daughter of the late Nicholas Yurchak, Jr. and the late Dorothy (née Gurka) Yurchak. Three weeks later, he graduated from seminary and continued his employment at All Saints Church in Olyphant, PA, as their choir director.
The late Archbishop Kyprian of Philadelphia & Eastern Pennsylvania ordained Reader Stavros to the diaconate on November 19, 1977, at Holy Ascension Church in Frackville, PA. On January 29, 1978, on the feast of the Veneration of the Precious Chains of St. Peter, the archbishop ordained Fr. Stavros to the priesthood in All Saints Church in Olyphant.
Fr. Stavros was sent to his first parish in February 1978: the Church of St. Herman of Alaska in Shillington, PA. During their time in his first parish, the young couple was blessed with their first child, Nika Theodora. After guiding the parish to build an iconostasis for their church, he received his first clergy award, the nabedrennik, in May 1980. Shortly thereafter, Fr. Stavros was reassigned to St. Nicholas Church in Stratford, CT, where he would remain for nearly twenty years. In this new parish, they were blessed a second time with the birth of another daughter, Kyra Katerina, in 1983. Fr. Stavros and Matushka Deborah were very active in the life of their parish. Sensing how the cultural background of their parish could prove to be beneficial, they encouraged the sisterhood to change the "Plant Sale" to a "Plant & Bake Sale" and eventually added Russian and other ethnic foods to the menu. The success of adding an ‘ethnic’ flavor also encouraged the Church School to have a "Russian Day: An Ethnic Picnic" in September with an emphasis on Russian food, songs, and dances.
The Yolka plays were another avenue where Fr. Stavros and his talent of encouragement were a great success. Fr. Stavros was always effusive in his praise of the staff writers of the several plays performed by the young people. Under the guidance of Fr. Stavros, the parish had a project in 1988 to commemorate the Millennium of Orthodox Christianity in Rus’. New icons for the iconostasis were painted in Jordanville, which spiritually uplifted the community. In addition to the new icons, a very large cross and a stone monument in the church gardens memorialized this celebration of the Millennium.
Because of his dedication to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), which the parish and Fr. Stavros joined in 1984, he received several ecclesiastical awards: the right to wear the purple skufia, then the kamilavka, the gold cross, the elevation to archpriest, the right to wear the palitsa, the jeweled cross, and toward the end of his life in 2012: the miter.
During the 1990s, Fr. Stavros wrote and printed two books: An Altar Server’s Manual and A Bilingual Divine Liturgy. Both books were widely welcomed and the project was deemed successful.
From 2003 to 2006, Fr. Stavros served the St. Euphrosynia Belarusian Church in South River, NJ. This was a brief but wonderful assignment. Many parishioners grew to love and respect Fr. Stavros, especially the children. The parish sponsored two outstanding events to honor the priest: first, a surprise party for his 50th birthday; and second, a festive banquet honoring the 25th anniversary of Fr. Stavros’ ordination to the priesthood. The parish and its organizations were very generous to help sponsor Fr. Stavros to make a pilgrimage to Belarus. While there, he became more acquainted with the language and costumes of the Belarusian people. He also made many new friends, among them the clergy of the Church of Belarus. A high point in his pilgrimage was an audience with the ecclesiastical head of the Belarusian Church, His Eminence, Metropolitan Philaret (Vakhromeyev; +2021).
The last few years of Fr. Stavros’ life were very difficult. He had a fall which caused considerable damage to his right leg. As a result, in the beginning, he needed a cane and then a walker in order to walk. With time, the leg deteriorated and by 2015 he had become completely bedridden. He sadly missed going to church. Thankfully, several parishes broadcast their services live on Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings on the Internet.
Fr. Stavros was blessed to officiate at the marriages of both of his daughters: Mrs. Nika Frey and Matushka Kyra Smith. They gave him six grandchildren, of whom he was very proud (in order): Xenia and Aemilia Smith, Trinity Frey, Micah Smith, Reznor (John) Frey, and Livia Smith. He is also survived by two sons-in-law: Priest Matthew Smith (rector of St. Nicholas Church in Endicott) and Mark Frey.
All services will take place in St. Nicholas Church, with Fr. Matthew officiating, concelebrating with visiting clergy. The Rite of the Burial of a Priest will take place on Tuesday, January 11, followed the next morning with Divine Liturgy. Interment will follow in St. Michael Cemetery in Jermyn, PA. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the family for the grandchildren’s education. The Barber Funeral Home is in charge of all arrangements.
Schedule of Services for the newly reposed Archpriest Stavros Rousos.
All services (except for the interment) will take place in St. Nicholas Church in Endicott.
Monday, January 10 4:00 PM-6:PM – Panihida and reading of the Gospel and Psalter over the reposed.
Tuesday, January 11 at 12:00 PM – Hierarchal funeral rite led by Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan. Repast to follow.
Wednesday, January 12 at 9:15 AM – Hours & Liturgy for the Departed. Interment will follow in St. Michael Cemetery in Jermyn, PA.