Monday, May 9th, marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Mitred Archpriest John Skvir, active and well-known throughout the Metropolia and then the Orthodox Church in America.
Born in Ganister, PA, to John and Paraskeva Skvir, John was baptized in Assumption Orthodox Church in that community. After graduation from Williamsburg High School, he was a member of the Class of 1943 at St. Tikhon’s Seminary. He later took courses at the University of Pittsburgh.
He married Barbara Wisloski of Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre, prior to his ordination to the Holy Diaconate and Priesthood at Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral in New York City. His first pastoral assignment was to a double parish, SS. Peter and Paul Church in Moundsville, WV and Bellaire, OH, from 1943-1946. Next he served at Saint Nicholas Church in Donora, PA, from 1946-1952, where he built a magnificent new Novgorod-style edifice, laying brick in overalls on weekdays.
His last and longest assignment was at SS. Peter and Paul Church, now SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, in Jersey City, NJ, one of the largest churches of the Orthodox Church in America. Here, he built a new rectory, purchased a parish cemetery, and kept the edifice in excellent condition.
Fr. John was a long-time elected member of the Metropolitan Council and a member of the OCA Department of External Affairs. As such, Fr. John was instrumental in the acquisition of Westwood (Syosset, NY) as the Metropolitan’s Residence and eventual Chancery. Also, he was the only individual who participated in all the preliminary world-wide meetings leading to the OCA’s Autocephaly, culminating in his participation in the reception of the Tomos in Russia in 1970.
Blessed with a fine baritone voice, Fr. John was frequently a soloist with the St. Tikhon’s Alumni Choir. With a deep love for Orthodox Liturgical music, and a stickler for fine choirs, Fr. John amassed a large music collection, much of which was donated to the St. Vladimir’s Seminary Library, along with that of the Buketoff family. A gregarious and welcoming person, Fr. John and Matushka Barbara were well known for their gracious hospitality to visiting prelates, clergy, seminarians and parishioners alike.
May Father John’s memory be eternal!