In Memoriam: Alumnus Mitred Archpriest Michael Margitich (’53)

11 November 2017 • In Memoriam

Our well-known and much-loved alumnus, The Mitered Archpriest Michael Margitich, Pastor Emeritus of Saint Seraphim of Sarov Cathedral, Santa Rosa, CA, fell asleep in the Lord on Saturday, November 11, 2017—Veterans Day. Father Michael was born in Shenandoah, PA, on November 29, 1928, to William [Vasili] and Anna Margitich, émigrés from Carpatho-Russia. His father was a cantor in Uzhorod before coming to the U.S. He attended Saint Vladimir’s Seminary and Columbia University, New York, NY concurrently, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1953.

He married the former Eleanor Gogats on June 14, 1952, at his home parish of the Holy Assumption, Clifton, NJ. On July 18 of the following year, he was ordained to the priesthood in Cumberland, RI, by His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri [Magan] and was assigned to All Saints Church, Hartford, CT, where he served for one year before becoming a US Air Force Chaplain in 1954. He achieved the rank of full colonel after serving for 30 years.

Father Michael served at several Air Force bases, including Parks AFB, Pleasanton, CA; Weisbaden AFB, Germany; and Keesler AFB, Biloxi, MS, where he was able to procure and move an Air Force base chapel for use by the Orthodox community. He was next assigned to Saigon, Vietnam in 1966–1967, and later Lowry AFB, Denver, CO; Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, AL; Hickam AFB, Honolulu; Travis AFB, Fairfield, CA; Maxwell AFB, Bellevue, IL; Andrews AFB, Washington DC; and Hanscom Field, Lexington, MA. At each of these facilities he provided liturgical services for Orthodox military personnel, as well as counseling and pastoral care for those who found in him a good and loving father. He always made an effort to establish friendships with local Orthodox clergy wherever he was posted.

Following his retirement from the military on November 11, 1984, in Massachusetts, Father Michael and Matushka Eleanor moved to Kingston, MA, to oversee the budding Mission of Saint Mark of Ephesus in the Diocese of New England. Very quickly, he was able to acquire a church building, no longer being used by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and oversaw the growth of the mission. In 1989, the Margitiches moved to Santa Rosa, CA to be near family. He was assigned by His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of the West to serve as chaplain for the Nuns at the Monastery at Point Reyes, CA. He also served as the Confessor for the Nuns at Kazan Skete, Santa Rosa, CA after the repose of Archimandrite Dimitri. In 1990, he was named Rector of the Protection of the Holy Virgin Parish, Santa Rosa, where he organized the funding, design and construction of Saint Seraphim Church in 1996. While he retired as Rector on December 31, 1998, he continued to serve, counsel, work and support the parish in every way possible during its critical years of growth.

Father Michael was preceded in death by his brothers Archpriest John, Deacon Joseph, and Steven. He is survived by his wife, Matushka Eleanor; daughter Irene [Nevis]; son Archpriest Lawrence Margitich [Ann]; son Mark [Gina]; seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren; brothers Emil, George, and Basil; and sisters Helen and Ann. He was loved by many and will be missed by all.

The Funeral Service for a Priest will be celebrated at Santa Rosa’s Saint Seraphim Cathedral on Tuesday, November 14, at 6:00 p.m. The Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at the cathedral on Wednesday, November 15, at 9:30 a.m., followed by interment at Healdsburg Cemetery. Donations in Father Michael’s memory may be made to Saint Seraphim Cathedral, 90 Mountain View Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95407-8201.

May Father Michael’s memory be eternal!

[The content of this story was originally published on oca.org.]