Archpriest Steven John Belonick reposed in the Lord Jesus Christ on August 7, 2019, after an extended illness, acute myeloid leukemia. He was 67 years old.
Born October 7, 1951, and raised in New Britain, CT, he was the only son of Steven and Ann (née Kochanowsky) Belonick. He was a graduate of Laurel Crest Preparatory School (1969), and he earned degrees at the University of Connecticut (B.A. in Biology, 1974) and at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Yonkers, NY (M.Div., 1977). He also completed a two-year program in pastoral counseling at Onondaga Pastoral Counseling Center, Syracuse, NY (Certificate, 1992).
On September 3, 1978, he married Deborah Malacky, also a graduate of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, who became his lifelong partner and support in ministry. Father Steven was ordained to the diaconate, March 25, 1979, by His Grace Boris (Geeza), bishop of Chicago and the Midwest, Orthodox Church in America (OCA); he was ordained to the priesthood, May 19, 1979, by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor), administrator of the OCA. Both ordinations took place in Three Hierarchs Chapel at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.
Prior to his ordination Father Steven had been inspired to become a pastor by meditating upon his favorite Bible passage, John 21:15–17, in which the Lord instructs his disciple Peter, who professes his steadfast love for Him, to “feed My sheep.” Taking guidance from that passage and seeking to fulfill the Lord’s directive to the best of his ability, Father Steven served three parishes of the OCA as their pastor and shepherd, with zealous love for each flock: The Orthodox Christian Church of the Holy Transfiguration, Pearl River, NY (1979–1983); Dormition of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church, Binghamton, NY (1983–2000); and Holy Ghost Russian Orthodox Church, Bridgeport, CT (2013–2017).
Additionally Father Steven became a beloved pastor and trusted confessor for many students attending St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, where he worked in various capacities from 2000–2013: Director of Recruitment and Alumni and Public Relations; Dean of Students; and Chaplain. As a final testimony to his dedication in shepherding souls, he availed himself even to the aides, nurses, and hospital workers who sought his pastoral wisdom occasionally, taking an interest in their joys and sorrows and lending a listening ear.
Besides his pastoral work, Father Steven served as co-founder and co-editor, along with his wife, Deborah, of Jacob’s Well, the official publication of the Diocese of NY and NJ, OCA. He also served in a volunteer capacity on various committees and in various departments under the central administration of the OCA: the Department of Lay Ministry, the Department of Pastoral Life and Ministry, the Liturgical Commission, and the Ethics Commission. As well, also within the central church, he chaired a task force to develop a professional assistance program for clergy and their families and for full-time church workers. Additionally he was involved in an initial study of the OCA to address issues of clergy sexual misconduct. He also acted as co-editor for a very popular book filled with Lenten meditations, A Journey through Great Lent.
As Father Steven passes from death to eternal life, he leaves behind on earth his beloved family: his wife, Deborah; his two sons, Paul (Alexandra) and Daniel (Jennifer Mary), and his grandson, Steven Leland; his sister, Cynthia (Salvatore); and his father, Steven, along with in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews, and an uncle that was part of his household growing up, John Kochanowski.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Adzima Funeral Home, Stratford, CT. Calling hours and services will take place at St. Dimitrie Orthodox Church, 504 Sport Hill Road, Easton, CT: calling hours, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., on Sunday, August 11; Office of the Burial of a Priest, 5 p.m. on Sunday, August 11; Divine Liturgy, 10 a.m., on Monday, August 12, with a repast following. A select choir, directed by Robin Freeman of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, will sing the services. Burial will take place at St. Tikhon’s Monastery Cemetery, St. Tikhon’s Road, South Canaan, PA, beginning with a short Panikhida (Service for the Departed) at the gravesite at noon, on Tuesday, August 13, with a luncheon following in the seminary refectory (not to be confused with the monastery trapeza).
Father Steven expresses his great thanks to all his caretakers: Dr. David Witt, his oncologist and Susanna Cronmiller, APRN, along with all the nurses and aides on the 7th floor oncology unit at Bridgeport Hospital; his family members who undertook the loving task of caring for him during time spent at home in hospice: his sister, Cynthia; his two cousins, Barbara Selarz and Kathleen Santa Maria; and his wife and sons. Additionally he is grateful for pastoral care provided by fellow clergy, especially His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, primate of the OCA, Fr. John Jillions, Fr. Steven Voytovich, his current father confessor, Fr. Adrian Budica and the Spiritual Care Unit at Bridgeport Hospital, and Fr. Michael Westerberg. In particular he is indebted to Fr. Paul Lazor who served as his father confessor and mentor for decades, and with whom he developed a lasting bond of friendship. He also thanks his in-laws Barry and Libby Taylor, and all other friends and family members for their love, support, and encouragement during his long illness.
Because he had suffered and understood the devastating effects of cancer, and because of his gentle care for the children under his pastoral guidance over the years, it was Father Steven’s wish that donations in his memory be made to St. Jude’s Research Hospital for Children, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105, 800-822-6344.
May Father Steven’s memory be eternal!