BIOGRAPHY THE REV. JOEL McEACHEN
Father Joel McEachen was born in Queens, NY, on June 22, 1939, to H. Stuart McEachen, an immigrant from Canada, and Dorothy Florence Lombard, a Mayflower descendant. The family moved to Leonia, NJ, where Joel attended elementary and high school, and then matriculated at Rutgers University, graduating with a B.A. in June, 1959. He joined a U.S. Naval Reserve blimp squadron at NAS Lakehurst, NJ, entered flight school, Pensacola, FL, and served in a Heavy Attack Squadron on board USS Forrestal in which he made two Caribbean and two Mediterranean cruises. He visited many ports including Greece, Rhodes, and Cyprus, and led a Navy tour from Beirut to the Holy Land in 1962 where he met with the Patriarch Benedictos. Upon release he returned home and worked as an IBM senior programmer and served as a driver/attendant on the Leonia Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
Having attended Eastern rite churches with relatives, and many Orthodox churches around New York and Greece, he began attending Christ the Saviour and St. Anthony's Orthodox churches, founded in north Jersey near his home, and using all English language services. He was received into Orthodoxy by Chrismation at St. Anthony's Church, Bergenfield, NJ, and he entered St. Vladimir's Seminary in September, 1965. Having been a Boy Scout, Scoutmaster, and Explorer Post Advisor as well as leading a Philmont Scout Ranch, NM, trek in July 1965, he was sent to the annual NY area Scout retreat on Long Island that same month. Several weeks later, he was appointed youth director at St. Demetrios' Church, Astoria, NY, where he served until June 1967. From September 1967, to June 1969, he was youth director at St. Nicholas Church, Flushing, NY.
June 4, 1967, he married Sandra Reshetar of Minneapolis, MN, at Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church, Paramus, NJ. Children are Elizabeth (Major Tom Johnston: children John, Jacob, Emily, Joel, William, Nicholas, Timothy, and Dorothy); John (Kimberly Gonzales: child Adelaide) Christine (Aaron Basil: children Caroline and Quinn Alexander) and Katherine.
During his senior year and the year after, he served St. Vladimir's Seminary as business manager with responsibilities for the refectory, bookstore, maintenance of buildings and grounds, and vehicles. He graduated from St. Vladimir's with the class of 1968, receiving the Master of Divinity degree. In June 1969, he left for the University of Thessalonica with his wife and infant daughter Elizabeth for a year's studies and a third visit to the Holy Land. Upon their return home with Greek-born son John, Joel was ordained deacon by Bishop Timothy of Rodostolon at St. Andrew's Church, Chicago, IL, and priest by Archbishop Iakovos at St. Nicholas Church, Flushing, NY, September 27, 1970, where he served as assistant pastor until October 1973. Fr. Joel was appointed pastor of Holy Trinity Church, Ansonia, CT, until his retirement in 2009. He continued his interest in computers with work as an IBM systems programmer on DOS/VS, VSE/ESA, VM, and MVS-z/OS systems.
With extensive Scout experience, Fr. Joel revised the Alpha-Omega Scouting award program in 1975 at the request of SCOBA. He wrote the CHI-RHO program in 1978, and developed the Prophet Elias adult leader recognition program in 1988. He helped with the early program at the Ionian Village and was a counselor there in 1972 while serving on the Archdiocesan National Youth Council 1971–1973. He served as Orthodox chaplain at five quadrennial Boy Scout National Jamborees beginning in 1981, and at the 100th anniversary of Scouting 2010 Jamboree. The Boy Scouts of America recognized this service as well as participation at the annual Greater New York Orthodox Scout retreats with the Silver Beaver award; The Girl Scouts USA honored Fr. Joel with their Impact Award; and the Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting presented him with the Prophet Elias emblem in 1996. He completed certification training as general hospital chaplain with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains in 1972.
Fr. Joel earned the MBA degree from Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT. He is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. He joined the Board of the Retired Clergy Association (RCA) in 2008 and served as treasurer. He was elected president of the RCA in July 2012, and will assume his new office September 1, 2012.