ARCHPRIEST STAVROS ROUSOS
(Stevens H. Rousos)
August 19, 1953 ~ January 3, 2022
The Very Rev. Archpriest Stavros Rousos, age 68, reposed in the Lord on (Monday) January 3, 2022. He was in retirement, while attached to St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, Endicott, NY, where his son-in-law, Priest Matthew Smith is Rector.
Father Stavros, named at birth Stevens H. Rousos, was born 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 Orthodox 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, Stevens 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, Stevens began attending St. Tikhon Orthodox Theological Seminary, South Canaan, PA, in September 1972. During his five-year seminary program, he was tonsured as a Reader with his baptismal name of Stavros 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, young Stavros met the “love of his life” and on May 1, 1977, he 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 Russian Orthodox Church, Olyphant, PA, as their choir director.
The late Archbishop Kyprian of Philadelphia and Eastern PA ordained Reader Stavros to the Holy 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 Deacon Stavros to the Holy Priesthood in All Saints Russian Orthodox Church, Olyphant, PA.
Father Stavros was sent to his first parish in Feb. 1978: the Orthodox 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, Father Stavros was reassigned to St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, 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. Father 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 Father Stavros and his talent of encouragement were a great success. We are sure Father Stavros thanks the staff writers of the several plays performed by our young people. Under the guidance of Father Stavros, the parish had a project in 1988 to commemorate the 1,000 years of Orthodox Christianity in Rus’. New Icons for the Iconostasis were written 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 Millenium.
Because of his dedication to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), which the parish and Father Stavros joined in 1984, he received several ecclesiastical “awards” or elevations: the right to wear the purple Skuffiya, then the Kamilavka, the Gold Cross, the elevation to Archpriest, the right to wear the Palitza, the Jeweled Cross, and toward the end of his life: the Mitre. Father Stavros received all of the awards directly from our beloved bishop: His Eminence, the Most Reverend Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of ROCOR.
During the 1990s, Archpriest Stavros wrote and printed two books: “An Altar Server’s Manual” and “A bilingual Divine Liturgy” booklet. Both books were widely welcomed and the project was deemed successful.
From 2003 to 2006 Father Stavros served the St. Euphrosynia Belarusian Greek Orthodox Church, South River, New Jersey. This was a brief but wonderful assignment. Many parishioners grew to love and respect Father 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 the Ordination of Father Stavros to the Holy 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 Orthodox Church, His Eminence, Metropolitan Filaret (+2021).
The last few years of Father’s life have been 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.
Father 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 for which 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: the Rev. Priest Matthew Smith and Mark Frey.
All services will take place in St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, Endicott, NY with Priest Matthew Smith, Rector, officiating concelebrating with guest clergy. The Rite of the Burial of a Priest will take place on Tuesday, January 11 followed the next morning with the Divine Liturgy celebrated by Fr. Matthew and guest clergy. Interment will follow in Saint Michael Orthodox 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.
By Courtesy of Kyra Smith (Rousos)