June 22, 2016
Stratford, CT: Metropolitan Hilarion leads Funeral for Archpriest Theodore Shevzov at Holy Presentation Church

On Wednesday, June 15, the clergy and faithful gathered at Holy Presentation Church in Stratford, CT to bid farewell to Archpriest Theodore Shevzov, who reposed the Monday prior. Fr. Theodore was a longtime cleric of nearby St. Nicholas Church in Stratford, though he often served in Holy Presentation Church, and was deeply loved by the faithful in both parishes.

A Liturgy for the Departed preceded the funeral, celebrated by Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York. His Eminence was co-served by Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, Archpriest Victor Potapov (rector of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, DC, where Fr. Theodore had served for several years), diocesan secretary Archpriest Serge Lukianov, Archpriests Serafim Gan (chancellor of the Synod of Bishops), George Lardas (rector of St. Nicholas Church in Stratford), Constantine Semyanko (parish cleric), and Brendan Crowley (rector of St. Nicholas Church in Enfield, CT), and Protodeacon Leonid Roschko (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ). Praying in church were parish rector Archpriest Andrei Semyanko and Archpriest Michael Roshak (OCA, retired).

Following the conclusion of the Liturgy, Metropolitan Hilarion led the Funeral for a Priest, co-served by the above-mentioned clergy, joined by Priest Seraphim Wing (rector of St. Nicholas Church in Edinboro, PA). Fr. Victor Potapov, a longtime friend of Fr. Theodore’s, offered the eulogy, in which he said, in part:

"I would like to express my heartfelt condolences Your Eminence and Your Grace, on the loss of a diligent worker in Christ’s Vineyard; to you, my brothers in Christ, on the loss of a fellow priest; and, of course, to Matushka Nina, Vera, and your family, on the loss of a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather.

"I was ordained a priest in September 1974. In October of that same year, I was sent to this parish by Archbishop Nikon, and I heard soon after I arrived here that a parishioner by the name of Theodore Shevzov would soon be ordained a deacon. I was disappointed to learn that he would be serving primarily in Mahopac, but I was overjoyed to hear that I would have a brother in Christ nearby, in whom I could confide and to whom I could turn for assistance, as I was just beginning to take my first steps as a pastor. Little did I suspect in 1974 that that deacon, Fr. Theodore, would become one of my best friends – a spiritual friend, someone in whom I could confide for the next forty years as a priest. Fr. Theodore was made a priest in 1985, and he was officially a cleric of our cathedral in Washington. We spent many years concelebrating, helping one another through difficult times. Fr. Theodore would give me excellent advice, and would always speak the truth to my face; he would often give advice by quoting passages from Scripture or from our divine services. He was always upbeat and optimistic. He would finally say after a long conversation, ‘Thy priests, O Lord, shall be clothed with righteousness, and Thy saints with rejoicing shall rejoice.’ Or, if we had gotten carried away criticizing our administration, ‘Set, O Lord, a watch before my mouth, and a door of enclosure round about my lips.’

"Fr. Theodore was interested in every aspect of Church life. People in the parish here and in Washington came to love him. He came to love all of us, and even though he moved back to Connecticut, we continued our friendship. Whenever he would call, he would be keenly interested and follow every single aspect of our lives. Most importantly, he would always pray for us. This is a very long service, and no doubt many of you are tired. But let us be grateful that we have this service; let us consider this to be our little sacrifice for Fr. Theodore for all that he has done for us during his lifetime, for all of the wonderful advice that he gave, for all of the confessions that he heard, for all of the prayers that he prayed on our behalf. We can no longer pick up the telephone and call him, speak to him as we did before. But the bonds that brought us together are still here. The language that we all speak is the language of prayer; this is the language that he understood, this is the language that transcends the temporal and the eternal.

"God willing, Fr. Theodore will find a place among the righteous; God willing, he will celebrate among the saints the Eternal Liturgy, and commemorate us, his larger family, his brothers and sisters in Christ. Please, dear brothers and sisters, remember him in your prayers, especially for these next forty days, and remember also his family in these trying times for them. Though we all believe in the resurrection of the dead, our prayers will give them strength and comfort in their time of loss, and speedily aid them as they move forward. With the saints give rest, O Lord, to Thy servant, the Archpriest Theodore."

After the conclusion of the funeral, Fr. Theodore’s body was taken in procession around the church, after which the mourners proceeded to Riverside Cemetery in nearby Shelton. There, Fr. Theodore was laid to rest next to his son, Basil, who reposed in 1981.

A memorial repast was then held in the parish hall, where friends and family offered speeches and fond words of remembrance.

Memory eternal to the newly reposed Archpriest Theodore!

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese