A reflection by Fr Lawrence Farley.
Saturday morning began with a thunderbolt: a dear fellow-priest from my diocese began his phone call to me early that morning with the words, “Did you hear about Fr Alexander?” I had not heard about Fr Alexander Pihach, but soon was informed that he had died suddenly and unexpectedly earlier that day. After travelling to Toronto from Moscow where he served as priest at the Representation Parish of St Catherine’s, and arriving in Toronto very late, he had been picked up at the airport and was eating at the home of a fellow priest in Toronto when he suddenly collapsed afterward on his way to bed and died. He had been lately given a clean bill of health after his cancer treatments, and was looking forward to many more years of fruitful ministry. He was 64.
I was not the only one who felt as if he had been struck by lightning. Fr Alexander (or “Fr Dennis” as he had been known for years) had served as Chancellor in the Canadian diocese for many years, and as Rector of parishes across the country. He was well-known, and even more well-loved.
I met him when I was still an Anglican priest investigating Orthodoxy. I had travelled three hours from northern Saskatchewan to the city of Saskatoon to observe the odd phenomenon of an Orthodox Liturgy being served in English. Dennis was a deacon at the parish there. I had many questions, most of them dumb. I also asked him, “What’s the deal about this ‘jurisdictions thing’?”. He and his priest exchanged a meaningful glance, and then Dennis answered, “The only place to talk about Orthodox jurisdictions is either on your knees or in a bar.” I didn’t understand it then, and could only later appreciate the combination of wit, wisdom, pragmatism and humour that characterized Dennis Pihach. It was a combination that would later help keep many people sane when he served as Chancellor for the diocese through some interesting years to come. Continue reading Remembering Fr Alexander [Pihach]