In Memoriam: Archpriest Paul Lazor

9 May 2020 • In Memoriam

With faith in Christ and hope in the resurrection, we share news of the repose of Archpriest Paul Lazor, an alumnus and former dean of students of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. Father Paul fell asleep in the Lord at a hospital near his home of Tobyhanna, PA on May 9, 2020 at the age of 80.

  • The funeral service for Fr. Paul will be live-streamed beginning at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 13, here.

“Father Paul was a beloved dean of students and professor,” said Archpriest Chad Hatfield, president of St. Vladimir’s Seminary. “Truly, what a giant in the history of St. Vladimir's and in the lives of so many people whom his life and ministry touched. He will be deeply missed.” 

The Very Rev. Paul Lazor, a native of Canonsburg, PA, was born on June 28, 1939. His grandfather and father, Galician immigrants and factory workers, were founding members of his home parish, St. John the Baptist in Canonsburg. Father Paul attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he obtained a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. He graduated from St. Vladimir's Seminary with an M.Div. in 1964, and was married that same year to Natalia (Manturoff). Over the course of their marriage, Fr. Paul and Matushka Natalia were blessed with three children and six grandchildren.

Father Paul Lazor was ordained to the Holy Priesthood in 1964 by Archbishop John (Shahovsky) of San Francisco, at the old chapel of St. Vladimir’s Seminary. Father Paul served as a parish priest for thirteen years at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Church in Milwaukee, WI and Holy Trinity Church in New Britain, CT.

Even during his student years, Fr. Lazor's love and dedication toward the work of St. Vladimir's Seminary were evident. He was a member of three consecutive Seminary summer octets and served as ecclesiarch of the school's chapel. In 1969, he was asked to join the Seminary faculty on a part-time basis. In 1977, he was appointed as dean of students and became a full-time member of the Seminary's staff and a lecturer on the faculty. He taught regularly in the areas of liturgics, practical (pastoral) theology, liturgical theology, Church Slavonic, and Russian, and was appointed the John and Paraskeva Skvir Lecturer in Practical Theology. He also served as priest and rector of the Seminary’s Three Hierarchs Chapel. He retired from St. Vladimir’s Seminary in June of 2007.

“Anyone who was a seminarian at St. Vladimir’s when Fr. Paul was dean of students will likely remember him in the choir or serving. He was always at services,” remembered Orthodox Church in America (OCA) Chancellor Archpriest Alexander Rentel. “He loved the services and believed in them, their power to bring us closer to God himself. He loved the services, but he also enjoyed the services. I learned so much from him about the services, organizing them, the underlying method beneath their structure, how to serve, but also just that enjoyment that I mentioned. 

“I will always remember a quote, too, from him, which was really from his mother, whom he quoted frequently: ‘Any gift that comes from goodness has an inexhaustible source.’”

Seminary Alumna Matushka Robyn Hatrak was a student in Fr. Paul’s final class as St. Vladimir’s before his retirement from the Seminary. 

“Fr. Paul was the heart and soul of St. Vladimir's Seminary,” she said. “He cared deeply about everything, and it showed in how he would pop in and talk to you whether you were baking cookies in the kitchen or you needed help with something in the Chapel. And he always made you feel loved and part of a big team.”

“He was a good priest and a good dean,” said fellow alumnus Fr. Gheevarghese John. “What I remember most are his ‘dos and don’ts’ of being a priest and how we are to conduct ourselves as pastors. Memory eternal!”

As an author, translator, and editor Fr. Paul produced numerous articles, tracts, booklets of liturgical services, and several introductions to books of other writers. His largest work is the book, Evening Worship in the Orthodox Church, an edited translation (with introduction) of three articles by Nicholas Uspensky. His article, "Pastoral Care Today," appeared in the St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly in 1996. On January 28, 2007, Fr Paul delivered the 23rd annual Fr. Alexander Schmemann Memorial Lecture, entitled: “A Personal Memoir,” in honor of Fr. Alexander.

Father Paul also served in several capacities in church-wide ministries on both the diocesan and national Church levels. He was a frequently invited speaker at retreats and conferences sponsored by Orthodox parishes and institutions throughout the United States (including Alaska) and Canada. He also lectured at Orthodox theological institutions in Russia and Slovakia.

The funeral and burial services for Fr. Paul will be kept small and private due to ongoing COVID-19-related restrictions. His family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to St. Vladimir's Seminary.

May the memory of Archpriest Paul be eternal!

Father Paul Lazor