Joseph J. Pishtey II
The Protopresbyter Joseph J. Pishtey II was the first Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America. As Chancellor of the Metropolia he was a member of the delegation that negotiated for autocephaly of the former Russian mission (Metropolia) in the 1960s.
Joseph was born on April 6, 1899 in Bridgeport, Connecticut of parents who were Carpatho-Russian immigrants. His theological education included attending the St. Tikhon’s preparatory school before graduating from St. Platon’s Seminary in Tenafly, New Jersey. After graduating from the seminary, Joseph served as a choir director in a number of Pennsylvania parishes.
He married Susanne Padick. They had three children, two sons Joseph J. III (who became a priest) and Wallace, and a daughter, Sonja.
On June 16, 1924, Joseph was ordained to the priesthood by Metropolitan Platon at St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York City. Subsequently Fr. Joseph served in parishes in Terryville, Connecticut and Old Forge and Olyphant, Pennsylvania. He arrived at his last parish, Holy Trinity Church in Yonkers, New York in 1940, where he served until his death.
While serving at Holy Trinity Church, Fr. Joseph also served as secretary-treasurer of the Metropolitan Council from 1946 to 1964. In 1964, he was appointed to the position of Chancellor of the Metropolia by the Synod of Bishops. In his position as chancellor Fr. Joseph was a member of the delegation that carried out negotiations with the Church of Russia for the eventual granting of autocephaly to the Metropolia. This involved travel to meetings in Geneva and Tokyo as well as in New York.
After the grant of autocephaly in 1970, he became the first to bear the title “Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America.” He continued to serve as chancellor until his death in New York on November 2, 1972. He was buried at the cemetery of St. Tikhon’s Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania.
- Orthodox America 1794-1976 Development of the Orthodox Church in America, C. J. Tarasar, Gen. Ed. 1975, The Orthodox Church in America, Syosett, New York