On the afternoon of Thursday, January 15, 2009, Archpriest Pavel Soucek of Old Forge, PA, fell asleep in the Lord.
Fr. Pavel was born on December 10, 1939, in Prague, Czechoslovakia. After completing secondary school in 1957, he enrolled in the Roman Catholic Theological Faculty of Charles University where, during his fourth year, he was forced by the communist authorities to interrupt his studies. After resuming his studies, he graduated in 1969.
In October 1966 he married PavIa (Paula) Novakova.
Fr. Pavel also completed studies in mathematics and computer programming at Charles University. He began working at the Biophysical Institute of the Medical Faculty of Charles University in 1967. In his free time, he studied music, fine art, and languages. He and his family arrived in the US in October 1969 after a brief sojourn in Vienna, Austria.
While working to support his growing family, he continued studies at the General Theological Seminary, New York, NY. After his ordination to the Episcopalian priesthood in 1974, he served at New York’s Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. Called to minister to Slovak Lutherans, he studied for a year at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, but eventually returned to Episcopalianism, only to find many new theological and pastoral innovations. He and many others left the Episcopalian tradition to join a newly-formed Anglican Catholic jurisdiction. Armed with the growing conviction that Orthodox Christianity possessed the fullness of truth, he pastorally directed his flock towards Orthodoxy while serving an Indiana congregation. A number of his parishioners embraced Orthodox Christianity as a result of his efforts.
Fr. Pavel and his family were received into the Orthodox Church in America in 1980, after which he pursued theological studies at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Crestwood, NY. In February 1981, he was ordained to the diaconate and in May of that year to the priesthood.
Fr. Pavel served in several parishes, including Holy Trinity Church, Willimantic, CT; St. Michael Church, Irvona, PA; Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral, New York, NY; SS. Peter and Paul Church, Miami, FL; Holy Trinity Church, Catasaqua, PA; Christ the Savior Church, Byesville, OH; and Holy Assumption Church, Marblehead, OH. In 2005, he was granted retirement from active pastoral duties.
For his many years of devoted ministry to the Orthodox Church in America, Fr. Pavel was elevated to the rank of archpriest 1992 and awarded the right to wear the palitza in 2004.
In addition to his pastoral work, Fr. Pavel was an accomplished iconographer, musician, and linguist.
Fr. Pavel is survived by his wife, Matushka Paula, two sons, Priest John Soucek, rector of St. Michael’s Orthodox Church, Old Forge, PA, and wife, Matushka Michelle, and Jacob Soucek of Canoga Park, CA, and three grandchildren, Christina, Sarah and John.
Father Pavel will lie in state at St. Michael’s Orthodox Church, Old Forge, PA, Thursday, January 22, 2009, at 2:00 PM. The family will receive friends from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM. A Panikhida service will be served at 7:00 PM. The Rite of Burial for a Priest will take place on Friday, January 23, at 11:00 AM at St. Tikhon’s Monastery Church, South Canaan, PA, celebrated by the His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania and area clergy. Interment will follow at St. Tikhon’s Cemetery.
May Fr. Pavel’s memory be eternal!