David (Mahaffey) of Sitka

From OrthodoxWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

His Grace, the Right Reverend David (Mahaffey) of Sitka was the Bishop of Sitka and Alaska for the Orthodox Church in America from 2014 to 2020.


Sterry David Mahaffey, Jr., was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania on May 25, 1952, and baptised at Mahaffey Methodist Church on December 14 the same year. He grew up active in the United Methodist Church, including being president of the Youth Fellowship in high school, serving as Sunday School Superintendent, and filling in for the pastor during his summer vacation from 15 years of age. On graduation from high school, he was offered a Lay Pastor's License, but did not accept it. In 1968, he began serving as a lay minister in the United Methodist Church, conducting services and delivering homilies for UMC parishes. He also studied at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (Punxsutawney Campus) between 1970-72. In his secular work, he worked in maintenance, heavy equipment operator, and other roles between 1970-89, before working in car sales between 1989-91.

While dating Karen Meterko, she invited him to attend her church - Sts Peter & Paul Orthodox Church, Urey - at a time when he was intent on seeking God. While the service was different to what he had experienced, he was drawn back to ponder the meaning and Divine Majesty he encountered there. On May 5, 1973, he married the former Karen Meterko at Sts Peter & Paul Orthodox Church, Urey, with whom he had four children (Nikolas in 1980, Sterry Michael in 1982, Seth in 1985, and Kyra in 1987). Early in their marriage, the Mahaffey's would both attend services at both Mahaffey Methodist and at Sts Peter & Paul. Fr Raphael Rozdilski answered the many questions posed to him, and took him to the 1975 Memorial Day Pilgrimage at St Tikhon's Monastery, where he decided to convert to Orthodoxy - to the hesitancy of his wife, who knew that his parents would blame her for his choice. In 1975, he ceased to be a UMC lay minister, and was chrismated into the Orthodox Christian faith on November 16, 1975, at the same church he was married. He also began the Late Vocations Program of the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania in the same year, graduating in 1980. He was also ordained a Reader, then a Subdeacon, by Bp Theodosius of Pittsburgh.

He was ordained a deacon on April 12, 1981, and served at various parishes of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania - assisting the bishop, assisting the priest, and serving Typika at the bishop's direction. Dcn David also served as the Parish Education Coordinator at those parishes - including speaking on teen and adult education at retreats and lecture series' in Eastern and Western Pennsylvania Dioceses, and developing educational software in game format for use at parish and regional levels. He had anticipated serving as a deacon until the end of his secular working life, before serving as priest at a small parish. In the midst of feeling somehow unfulfilled, Karen asked if he had considered seminary and the priesthood. Dcn David felt God's calling to go to seminary, and they immediately began plans to attend St Tikhon's Seminary in 1992 - he would move to the seminary, while Karen and their four children lived with her parents for the first year.

After his first year, he was ordained a priest on July 31, 1993, and was assigned as rector of St Michael's Church in Old Forge, Pennsylvania, which allowed him to continue his studies and reunite his family. Fr David graduated cum laude from St Tikhon's in 1997, before starting further studies at the University of Scranton in 1999 with Bachelors of Arts majoring in Theology and in Philosophy and graduating magna cum laude in 2003 (with awards for Academic Excellence and Excellence in Philosophy, and giving Presidential Honors in 2000, 2001 and 2003 from the University President), and graduating from a Master of Arts in Theology degree (also from the University of Scranton). He continued to serve at St Michael's until January 2006, when he was transferred to the pastorate of Holy Trinity Church in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and was then transferred from there to be Acting Rector of St Nicholas Orthodox Church, Bethlehem, PA. He also served as dean of the Philadelphia Deanery, as Treasurer of St Tikhon's Alumni Association, Secretary of the NEPA Chapter of Alpha Sigma Nu Alumni, Secretary of the Clergy Brotherhood of NEPA, Staff of Your Diocese Alive in Christ magazine, auditor of the OCA and the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania, and on the Bishop's Task Force on Missions and Evangelism for the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania. He was elevated to Archpriest in 2002 and awarded the palitsa in 2006.[2]

Between 2003-04, Fr. David served as a graduate assistant in the Theology Department of the University of Scranton, before serving from 2005-11 as Adjunct Lecturer in Philosophy, Doctrine, Church History, Comparative Theology and Modern Belief at St. Tikhon’s Seminary, and from March 2009 as Adjunct Lecturer in theology and philosophy at the Melrose Park Campus of Alvernia University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Tragically, on August 8, 2007, Fr. David's wife, Matushka Karen, fell asleep in the Lord.[1]

In subsequent years, Fr David became nominated for a series of sees - to the Diocese of Western Pennsylvania in November 2008, to the Diocese of New York and New Jersey in August 2009, to the Diocese of the Midwest in October 2010. On September 15, 2012, he was nominated by the delegates to the Assembly of the Diocese of Alaska as the candidate for election as Bishop of Sitka and Alaska by the Holy Synod. He was tonsured a riassaphore on September 23 by Abp Tikhon at St Tikhon's Seminary.[3]

On October 9-11, 2012 the Holy Synod of OCA accepted Archbishop Benjamin’s presentation of Hieromonk David (Mahaffey) as the nominee for the Episcopal See of Alaska[2]. On Friday, February 21, 2014, Archimandrite David was consecrated Bishop of Alaska during a Hierarchical Liturgy by Metropolitan Tikhon of Moscow, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco, Bishop Michael of New York, Bishop Irineu of Dearborn Heights, and Bishop Irénée of Quebec City at St Innocent Cathedral in Anchorage, Alaska. Co-serving the bishops were Chancellor for the Orthodox Church in America Archpriest John A. Jillions, Archpriest Victor Nick (Chancellor of the Diocese of Alaska), and 40 other priests from around the diocese. A banquet was held in his honor that evening at the University of Alaska’s Lucy Cuddy Center in Anchorage[3].

During His Grace's first year of episcopate, he worked closely with His Eminence the Archbishop Makarios (Tillyrides) of Nairobi (2001–) in order to build a church dedicated to Saint Herman of Alaska in Eldoret, Kenya. In 2019, Eldoret became a diocese of the Alexandrian Throne.[4]

On October 2, 2020, Archbishop David was diagnosed with renal cancer. A little over a month later, on November 27, 2020, he fell asleep in the Lord.

Succession box:
David (Mahaffey) of Sitka
Preceded by:
Nikolai (Soraich)
Bishop of Sitka and Alaska

Succeeded by:
Alexis (Trader)
Help with box

See also