On November 27, 2020, His Eminence, the Most Reverend David (Mahaffey), Archbishop of Sitka and Alaska, fell asleep in the Lord after a grave illness. He was the ruling hierarch of the Diocese of Alaska of the Orthodox Church in America from 2014 until his repose.
Sterry David Mahaffey Jr. was born in Altoona, PA on May 25, 1952. He was raised in the United Methodist Church, where he was actively involved in youth activities and eventually became a lay minister. After graduating from high school, he was employed in various jobs for over two decades, until he devoted himself fully to the Church. At this time, he also studied at Indiana University of Pennsylvania for two years (1970-72) and met Karen Meterko, whom he married on May 5, 1973 at SS. Peter and Paul Church in Urey, PA. The young couple initially attended both Methodist and Orthodox services every Sunday. David Mahaffey was soon drawn to explore the Orthodox faith and after attending the 1975 Memorial Day Pilgrimage at St. Tikhon’s Monastery, he decided to seek reception into the Orthodox Church. He was chrismated on November 16, 1975 by Fr. Raphael Rozdilski at his wife’s parish, where their wedding had taken place. He soon enrolled in the Late Vocations Program of the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, graduating in 1980. Before leaving the Pittsburgh see when he was elected OCA Primate in 1977, Bishop Theodosius (Lazor) tonsured David Mahaffey a reader. Bishop Kyrill (Yonchev) of Pittsburgh would later ordain him a subdeacon and then a deacon on April 12, 1981. Deacon David would serve in various parishes to assist priests or would accompany the bishop for archpastoral visitations throughout the diocese. On occasion, the bishop would send him to serve Typika alone at parishes that did not have a priest.
In 1992, Deacon David was inspired to leave secular employment and to undertake studies at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. Having sold their house, his wife and four children lived with her parents for a year as Deacon David began his studies. The family was reunited when Deacon David was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by Archbishop Kyrill on July 31, 1993 and assigned to service St. Michael’s Church in Old Forge, PA. After completing his seminary studies with honors in 1997, he was assigned as rector of the parish and would remain there until 2006. At the same time, he continued his education, earning two bachelor degrees (2003), magna cum laude, in theology and philosophy and a master’s degree (2005) in theology, all from the University of Scranton.
A year after his assignment to Holy Trinity Church in Pottstown, PA in 2006, Matushka Karen fell asleep in the Lord, after battling cancer. Father David was transferred to St. Nicholas Church in Bethlehem, PA in 2009.
Delegates to the Assembly of the Diocese of Alaska on September 15, 2012 nominated Father David to fill the vacant Alaskan see. He was tonsured a Riasophore Monk on September 23, 2012 by Archbishop Tikhon of Philadelphia at St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery Church. After his subsequent tonsure to the Lesser Schema on February 10, 2013 by Igumen Sergius (Bowyer), Abbot of Saint Tikhon’s Monastery, Hieromonk David was released from the pastorate at Saint Nicholas Church and the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania, raised to the rank of Archimandrite and appointed chancellor and administrator of the Diocese of Alaska, effective March 1, 2013.
Archimandrite David [Mahaffey] was elected by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America to fill the vacant Episcopal See of Sitka and Alaska on October 16, 2013.
He was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Sitka and Alaska on February 21, 2014
Throughout his diaconate and priesthood, Father David had served as education coordinator at various levels, developing educational software, lecturing and conducting retreats, particularly for youth, in both the Eastern and Western Pennsylvania dioceses. During his priestly service in the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania, he held several administrative positions including district dean and Metropolitan Council member. From 2005 until his departure to Alaska, he taught at St. Tikhon’s Seminary and Alvernia University in Philadelphia, PA.
During his episcopal tenure in Alaska, Archbishop David traveled tirelessly and worked energetically to inspire and educate the flock consisting largely of the Native peoples of the oldest diocese of the Orthodox Church in America.
Archbishop David is survived by his four children: Nikolas David, Sterry Michael, Seth Robert and Kyra Ann, together with their families, including his beloved grandchildren. He is also gratefully remembered by the faithful flock in the places where he served and taught in Pennsylvania and Alaska.
Funeral details will be posted as they are received.
May Archbishop David’s memory be eternal!