Eternal Memory: +Very Rev. Protopresbyter Michael Polanichka (Updated 12/23/21)

JOHNSTOWN, PA - [Diocesan Chancery] -- With profound sadness the Diocesan Chancery announces that + Very Rev. Protopresbyter Michael Polanichka reposed in the Lord on December 20, 2021.

Born July 17,1936 in Scranton, PA to the late Nicholas and Susan (Chuvan) Polanichka.Proto. Michael entered the Diocesan Seminary of Christ the Savior in Johnstown, PA in September 1956 and graduated in June 1960.

On June 11, 1960 he married the former Eleanor Jean Hazuda in Nesquehoning, PA and they just celebrated their 61st Wedding anniversary in June 2021. His beloved wife, Pani Eleanor, who was his caregiver for the past 3 years passed away suddenly on November 21, 2021.

Protopresbyter Michael was ordained to the Holy Priesthood on July 3, 1960 by the late Metropolitan Orestes P. Chornock and offered his first Divine Liturgy in his home parish of St. Nicholas in Scranton, PA. His first pastoral assignment was to St. Mary’s Orthodox Church in Bayonne, NJ where he completed an extensive renovation program of the Church and parish rectory.

In March of 1968 Protopresbyter Michael Michael was transferred to Rahway, NJ and served there for 4 ½ years. While in Rahway, a building program was instituted, and a beautiful Byzantine style Church was built.

By appointment of His Grace, the late Bishop John R. Martin, Protopresbyter Michael Michael and his family were transferred in September 1972 to St. John’s Orthodox Church in Sharon, PA. Over the next several years Protopresbyter Michael oversaw the burning of the mortgage on the Church’s Educational Center and was instrumental in the building of the Church’s Cemetery Chapel in 1982, which was a life-long parish dream. Just before his retirement as parish priest of St. John’s, he was directly involved with all the fund raising and donations that helped with the building of the brand-new Church in Hermitage.

In addition to his pastoral duties at St. John’s, in 1975 Bishop Martin appointed Protopresbyter Michael as the Chairman of the Diocesan Building Committee and head of construction of the million-dollar Diocesan complex at Camp Nazareth in Mercer, PA. He was also a consultor to the late Metropolitan Nicholas Smisko and a member of the Diocesan Board of Trustees. At the 12th Diocesan Council-Sobor in 1979, Bishop Martin bestowed upon Protopresbyter Michael the title and rank of Protopresbyter with the privilege of wearing a gold pectoral cross. That formal investiture took place on December 9, 1979 in Sharon. In 1995 Protopresbyter Michael was appointed by Metropolitan Nicholas as Financial Secretary for the Diocesan Priest’s Pension Plan.

Protopresbyter Michael was also very active in community affairs. For 20 years he served as President of the Orthodox Clergy Association, Past-President of the Christian Associates and the Sharon Ministerium. He was very instrumental in the formation of the Community Food Warehouse, a non-profit organization that provides food to the hungry in Mercer and Lawrence counties. He served as their President, Vice-President and Treasurer and was also on their Board of Directors for 27 years.
After serving for 51 years in the priesthood, Protopresbyter Michael retired in August 2011 but continued to serve liturgies in the local Orthodox Churches for several years.

Protopresbyter Michael was a very loving, caring and devoted pastor to each of his Church parishes, congregations and all that he met. He was a true reflection of his patron Saint, Archangel Michael, who is one of the most celebrated of the Angels and Defender of the Faith. He will be greatly missed, not only by his immediate family, but also by his extended family in the Lord.

Protopresbyter Michael was preceded in death by his parents, his beloved wife Pani Eleanor and his oldest brother John C. Polanichka.

Survivors include his three children Valerie J. Dick, husband William, Annapolis, MD.; Justine MacNeil, Ellicott City, MD.; and Michael D. Polanichka, wife Brenda, Simi Valley, CA. Also surviving are his six grandchildren Kaela (Richard) Merkle, Jason (Courtney) Micucci, Cameron MacNeil, Brianna Dick, Jordan (Paul) Zdinak, and Taylor Polanichka. He was the great-grandfather to Aidan and Eileen Micucci; Jennifer and Claire Merkle. He is also survived by his two brothers, Andrew Polanichka and wife, Joanne, Hershey, PA, and Nicholas Polanichka and wife, Maryann, Dalton, PA. He also is survived by many nieces and nephews.

Funeral arrangements are as follows: 

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Reception of the Body into the Church and Panachida: 12:45 PM
Visitation: 1:00-3:00 PM and 5:00-7:00 PM
Funeral Service for a Priest: 7:00 PM

Monday, December 27, 2021

Divine Liturgy and Burial: 10:00 AM
Visitation, Services and Burial will take place at:
Saint John's Orthodox Church
3180 Morefield Road
Hermitage, PA 16148                     

May Almighty God grant Eternal Rest in Blessed Repose to His newly-departed servant, the Protopresbyter Michael, 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!