Margaret (Pavlides) Orfanakos of Wayne, New Jersey passed away peacefully surrounded by her family on Monday, August 13th, 2018. She was 75 years old. Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1942 to George and Catherine Pavlides of blessed memory, she married John Peter Orfanakos in 1962, who was later ordained the Priesthood in 1962.
Presvytera Margaret and Fr. John began their ministry together at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Danbury Connecticut in 1962. After attending classes at St. John’s University for two years, she graduated in 1964 from Danbury College with a degree in elementary education. She and Fr. John immersed themselves fully into the life of the church at Assumption Church. They were blessed with a daughter, Stephanie, in 1965, who fell asleep in the Lord suddenly at two years of age. After this, Metropolitan Silas of New Jersey assigned them to the parish of St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Passaic, New Jersey.
In 1974, Fr. John led the building of a brand-new church as the parish moved to Clifton, New Jersey. Under the guidance of Fr. John and Presvytera Margaret, the parish flourished. Presvytera Margaret led the Sunday School program for more than 40 years. She also taught Greek School and was very involved in the St. Paraskevi Philoptochos Society. She and Fr. John served the parish side-by-side beginning new ministries including the Youth of St. George (a program for children in 2 – 6 grades), and the Senior Citizens Group. Presvytera Margaret’s grace, kindness and love endeared her to parishioners from both parishes that she served, and many parishioners have become as beloved as family members. In honor of their service, the parish of St. George named the fellowship hall after Fr. John and Presvytera Margaret.
In 1983, Presvytera was first introduced to a fledgling new ministry of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the St. John Chrysostom National Oratorical Festival. In its first year of existence, Metropolitan Silas appointed her to be the chairperson for the Metropolis of New Jersey. Two years later, she and Fr. John were appointed the National Co-Chairpersons of the Oratorical Festival, and she has served in that position for 33 consecutive years, including the most recent National Festival which was held in Chicago in June, 2018. The Oratorical Festival was truly the passion project of Presvytera’s life and under her leadership, the program grew to become one of the most successful ministries of the Archdiocese with thousands of teenagers across the country participating. She worked tirelessly to ensure that each National Festival was memorable for the participants and she had an incredible memory of each annual Festival and the 18 finalists who represented each Metropolis.
Presvytera Margaret was also very involved in the National Sisterhood of Presvyteres, and particularly enjoyed providing guidance and support to younger Presvyteres. She was the first NSP representative from New Jersey and she served as vice president from 1992 – 1996 and as president from 1996 - 2000.
Presvytera Margaret was also a very loving mother and grandmother. In addition to her daughter Stephanie, she had three other children (Fr. Peter, George and Kathy) and she loved spending time with them and each of their children. Fr. Peter and his wife Vangie had a very beautiful and special son, John-Peter Iakovos, who feel asleep in the Lord unexpectedly at the age of 20. George and his wife Maria lived near Presvytera Margaret and Fr. John in New Jersey, with their children Stephanie, Yianni, Marina and Gabriella. Kathy married George Demacopoulos and they live in Commack, Long Island with their four children: Zoe, Elizabeth, Eleftherios and Grace. In addition to her 3 children and 8 grandchildren, Presvytera Margaret is survived by her sister, Helen Hanges, and loving sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews and their families.