The Faith that brought together scattered families of Passaic and Bergen Counties eighty-two years ago today motivates the third and fourth generations to uphold the same religious traditions. The first place of worship was a small second floor apartment in Passaic. Soon the expanding congregation found larger quarters and the Church was officially named. Eventually as more families moved into the area, an old house was purchased and converted into a two-story Church. His Eminence Archbishop Athenagoras officiated at the Consecration of the first Church built during the depression on October 15th, 1933.


During World War II, parish families along with the newly formed Saint Paraskevi Philoptochos Society participated in community drives for agencies associated with the Greek War Relief. In the 1960’s as the membership continued to grow, a Church located at 124 Hamilton Avenue in Passaic was purchased and transformed into an Orthodox Church.


On October 15th 1967, yet another era in the life of Saint George began when the former Bishop Silas of Amphipolis assigned Father John Orfanakos to the parish. Father John’s vision was to build a new Church with classrooms and a Community Center. The first step in this goal was realized when His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos turned over the first spade of dirt at the ground breaking ceremonies held on June 29th, 1969. Then on April 6th 1974, His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos along with His Grace Bishop Silas and many area clergy presided at the Theranixia of the new 8th Century Byzantine Style Church perched on a hill.


Soon afterwards, the services of Constantine Yousis, one of the noted masters of Byzantine art was commissioned to do the iconography. Now, upon entering the Church, parishioners and visitors alike are inspired by the images of the Church Saints and Scenes from the Old Testament and the life of the Christ. Finally, on November 12th 1978, His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos and His Excellency Metropolitan Silas consecrated the new Church. A year later, His Excellency Metropolitan Silas consecrated the Chapel and dedicated it to Saint Nectarios. Hundreds of faithful, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike come to the Chapel to venerate the relics of this modern day saint. Many miracles have been attributed to the prayers of the faithful in this Chapel.


In the late 1980’s in order to accommodate the growing needs of the Parish, a new Community Center and Gymnasium, along with classrooms were constructed. In 1995, an adjacent property was purchased so the future needs of the growing parish could be met.


Another chapter in the life of the parish began with Father George Orfanakos’ assignment as Proistemenos by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios on Christmas Eve 1999. Having served Parishes in Astoria and the Bronx, Father George returned home to our community with much pastoral experience. On June 23rd 2002, the Archbishop bestowed upon Father John the title of Pastor Emeritus. Together, father and son work hand in hand and side by side in this growing community of faith.


Other Clergy that have received their calling to the Priesthood while attending Saint George are: The Reverend Dr. Emmanuel Clapis, the Dean of our Holy Cross Theological School; The Reverend Konstantine Mendrinos; The Reverend Michael Monos; The Reverend Peter Orfanakos, who was also Archbishop Iakovos’ deacon for three years, and of course, The Reverend George Orfanakos. The most recent graduate is Michael Diamond, who is a lay assistant at St. Nicholas Church in Baltimore, Maryland.


Over the past few years we have experienced a tremendous amount of growth through the vision and leadership of Father George and Father John. To meet the needs of this growing community of faith, plans are currently underway to expand our parking facilities and build a Conference Center complete with Banquet Facility on the adjacent property.


Within our Church there exist many dynamic ministries. Our Sunday school has grown to an enrollment of over 225 students from 2½ year old children in the “Little Angel Class” to the “Teen Talk Class” for high school students. The program also boasts over 40 teachers. The Sunday school sponsor drives to support missions outreach, food drives for needy families, and an Angel Tree at Christmas, which collects gifts for needy children in the area. In addition to family retreats, our Sunday school has also supported a mission priest for the past fifteen years.


There are 115 students that attend the Greek school twice a week from pre-kindergarten (5 year olds) through sixth grade. The Parent Teachers Organization sponsors many events throughout the year. Our St. George parish also offers an adult Greek School class.


The St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival has also been a major part of our parish identity. Established in 1983 this Archdiocesan program under the Department of Religious Education has been co-chaired by Father John and Presvytera Margaret Orfanakos since 1985. Hundreds of children have participated in this program from our parish. Our Sunday school even features an elementary division, encouraging the youngest children to share their faith in a public forum. In the history of this festival, we are very proud to have had seven national finalists from our Saint George parish with two of them receiving top honors.


Other active Saint George Parish Minsitries include the Parish Council, Choir, Chanters, Altar Boys, GOYA, HOPE & JOY, Folk Dance Classes, Youth Ministry Team, Daughters of Penelope, Hellenic Musical Society, Mommy & Me program, YAL, Computer Ministry, a bookstore for adults and children with a wide selection of religious books in Greek and English, Icons, and religious tapes. Adult religious education classes are held each week. Bible Study groups are conducted weekly in Greek and English. Also, an Orthodox study reading group is offered to those wishing to learn more about the Orthodox Christian faith. Recently, our parish has arranged a scholarship to assist and help those students who have financial need and are attending College. In an effort to foster Christian Fellowship we have two groups, Kali Parea and Micri Parea, which offer various events throughout the year.


One of the most dynamic outreaches of our Parish is our monthly bulletin The Orthodox Light. Thirty-five years ago Father John began this bi-lingual publication to keep our parishioners spiritually edified and informed about all the programs in our community. Over the past few years we have since enhanced the layout, design and quality of this publication. This has been accomplished through the dedicated leadership of our Computer Ministry which have also created our webpage. You can visit us at church@stgeorgeclifton.org, and check out our live video broadcasts of the Divine Liturgy and all weekly services. We also have made available all of our Adult Education Classes on-line as well.


The St. Paraskevi Philoptochos Society continues to be a dedicated ministry of our parish with over 80 members. In addition, to the many philanthropic endeavors it undertakes, the “Circle of Hope” ministry was established two years ago. The Circle of Hope is a monthly outreach program sponsored by the St. Paraskevi Philoptochos Society under the direction and guidance of Father George, Father John and a licensed clinical psychologist. This group gives everyone an opportunity to share their pain in a safe and confidential environment. Themes for discussion include philosophy for living, attachments and losses, effect of loss on the entire family, sibling loss, personal death awareness, adult orphan, first observed death experience, loss from chronic illness, choices. Also, implemented last year, under Father George’s direction, and presented to our community with a tremendous response was an Angel Tree Memorial Service. Ceramic Angels with departed loved ones names on them were placed on our Community Christmas Tree. Each year more names are added. We are very proud that the Saint George Circle of Hope program was awarded fourth prize at the National Philoptochos Convention this past year.


With divorce rates now reaching 60%, our Saint George community is also trying to create a ministry to respond. We have established “IT TAKES TWO” pre-marital classes. Led by Father George, all of the engaged couples in our community come together for a frank discussion on what they should expect in marriage. A highlight of the evening is the presence of several couples in our Parish who have been married fifty or more years. After a time of open sharing and discussion, the men and women are separated into homogeneous groups led by these more experienced husbands and wives. They shared openly and nothing is out of bounds. A special bond has been made during these classes and we are seeing our Church overflowing with young married couples taking their first steps in their new life together.


As you can see, our Parish, which initially served the spiritual needs of the Greek Orthodox faithful from Bergen and Passaic counties, has now extended her ministry and outreach to over 500 families in nine counties commuting up to sixty miles to attend services and participate in the various ministries of our dynamic parish.