Eternal Memory: +Very Rev. Protopresbyter John Duranko

Friday, December 9, 2022

JOHNSTOWN, PA - [Diocesan Chancery] -- With profound sadness the Diocesan Chancery announces that + Very Rev. Protopresbyter  John Duranko, age 91,  reposed in the Lord on December on December 8, 2022 at his home, surrounded by his family.

Fr. John was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, on June 11, 1931, son of the late John and Anna (Duray) Duranko. After graduating from Johnstown High School, he enrolled in Christ the Saviour Seminary in 1951 and was the first seminarian from Christ the Saviour Cathedral Parish in Johnstown, PA, to study for the priesthood graduating in 1955.  Fr. John married the former Patricia Ann Czarnecki on November 2, 1957, and was ordained on November 10, 1957, by Metropolitan Orestes P. Chornock.  His first assignment was St. Nicholas Church in Gary, IN.  He also served as Dean of the Chicago Deanery during that time.

In 1971, he was transferred to St. John the Baptist Church in Bridgeport, CT, and was appointed as the Dean of the New England Deanery.  Father John retired on February 15, 2001, after serving for 46 years as a priest of the Diocese (30 of those years in Bridgeport).  During his long ministry, he was formerly chairman of the Diocesan Music Commission, a member of the Diocesan Board of Trustees, and Consistory Consultor to the Bishop and a member of the Diocesan Committee on Housing for the Elderly.  During his pastorate in Bridgeport, he was awarded the jeweled pectoral cross with the title of Protopresbyter.  Subsequently, on the silver anniversary of his ordination His All-Holiness Bartholomew, Patriarch of Constantinople, honored him with the title of Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Throne.

Fr. John was a talented musician, composing and playing trumpet for the high school band, a six-piece polka band, and was a self-taught pianist. While in the seminary, he was appointed to teach special melodies to the other seminarians and was the director of the seminarian quartet. He wrote many songs for church celebrations, Sunday school pageants, and notably wrote the 50th Diocesan Jubilee song, and compiled many music sheets and booklets for parishioners to participate in church services and created remarkable, illustrated church bulletins.

He was an innovator, always looking for better ways of working in the church kitchen and performing other day to day tasks. He introduced many labor-saving changes for the church kitchen volunteers.  He was influential in having the elevator installed to make the church services more accessible.

Devoted to his parishioners, he made daily visits to hospitals and homes offering prayers of healing and Holy Eucharist.   Fr. John was the first person that many parishioners saw when they emerged from their surgeries.  Fr. John was known by name throughout the hospital. He was also the Chaplain of the Stratford Police Department.

Fr. John nurtured his parish. He organized a food bank and personally delivered food to those in need.  He founded the church bowling league and organized a weekly gathering of the church senior citizens for fellowship and games. He wrote music for and coordinated church pageants, encouraging the youth of his parish. He taught piety and respectfulness to his altar servers.

When the aging Metropolitan Orestes could no longer live alone, Fr. John and his wife Pani Patricia took him into their parish home and cared for him as one of their family for the remaining two years of his life.

In addition to the devotion that he showed to his parish, he was also a deeply devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. He encouraged his children and grandchildren in their sporting pursuits and could often be found in the stands at their many football, basketball, baseball, softball, and lacrosse games. He was a feared slow-pitch softball pitcher in the church softball league. In a bowling alley or in a billiard game, many opponents found him to be unbeatable.

Fr. John was predeceased by his brother Timothy (Caroline) of Bethlehem PA, and an infant brother Frederick. He leaves behind his loving wife of 65 years Patricia, sister Barbara Martyak (Stephen) of Harrisburg PA, daughter Deborah Tvardzik (David) of Oxford, daughter Daria Gerety (Kevin) of Oxford, son John Duranko (Pamela) of Norton MA, and son Stephen Duranko of Stratford, his grandchildren; David Tvardzik, (Yoli), Stephen Tvardzik, (Kari), Stephen Duranko, John Duranko, Katherine Duranko, and Liam Gerety, great grandchildren; David Tvardzik and Chloe Tvardzik and many nieces and nephews.

Funeral arrangements are as follows: 

Tuesday, December 13, 2022,  Visitation from 4–6 p.m. in the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church of St. John the Baptist, 364 Mill Hill Avenue, Bridgeport. The Funeral Service for a Priest will follow at 6:00 p.m.

Wednesday, December 14th, a Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. Interment will follow in St. John’s Cemetery, Stratford.

May Almighty God grant Eternal Rest in Blessed Repose to His newly-departed servant, the Protopresbyer John, who has fallen asleep, in  the Heavenly Mansions, where there is neither sickness, sorrow or pain, but Life Everlasting, and make his memory to be eternal!  Vicnaja jemu pamjat!