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50th Anniversary of Very Reverend Fr. John Brancho

On Sunday, July 6, the Very Rev. John Brancho observed the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the Priesthood. It was a dual celebration, as Father John and Pani Marie (the former Marie Kerestesy) also observed their 50th anniversary of marriage. They were married on June 14, 1964 in Christ the Saviour Cathedral by the late Father John Yurcisin and the late Father Richard Smisko (Bishop Nicholas Smisko). One month later on July 5th, His Eminence, Metropolitan Orestes P.Chornock, ordained Deacon John to the Priesthood. The new priest served his first Liturgy at his home parish of St. Nicholas in Homestead, PA on July 19th.

The golden anniversary celebration took place at Christ the Saviour Cathedral and Christ the Saviour Educational Center. The Brancho’s relocated to Johnstown following retirement on November 1, 2010.

Father Brancho was the main celebrant of the anniversary Liturgy. His Grace, Bishop Gregory presided from the throne. Assisting were Very Rev. Protopresbyter Robert Buczak, Cathedral Dean, who preached the homily, serving together with Very Rev. Protopresbyter Paul Herbert and Protodeacon Gregory Benc. Bishop Gregory chanted the marriage blessing at the conclusion of the Liturgy and spoke, presenting the Brancho’s with a 50th Golden Wedding Certificate. Christ the Saviour Cathedral Choir sang the responses, directed by Ms Helen Spanovich.

Two hundred guests enjoyed an anniversary banquet served in Christ the Saviour Educational Center. The celebration was hosted by the jubilarians’ children. Master of ceremonies was Stephen Brancho. Grandchildren Katherine and Christina Chow presented flowers to His Grace and the jubilarians. The Brancho’s have two children. Son Stephen is married to the former Jennifer Petras, and they live in the Pittsburgh area. Daughter Dr. Deborah Brancho is married to Dr. Chi-Wing Chow. They live with their two children north of New York City. Banquet remarks in behalf of the clergy of the Diocese were made by Very Rev. Protopresbyter Frank P. Miloro, Chancellor. Bishop Gregory gave the main address, followed by a response from Father John.

Father John Brancho is a 1964 graduate of Christ the Saviour Seminary. His first parish assignment was St. John the Baptist Church in Ellwood City, PA. During that time he furthered his education at Youngstown University, graduating with a B.A. in Psychology. Prior to their marriage, Pani Marie attended Indiana University and then graduated from Youngstown University with a B.S. in Secondary Education. While in Ellwood City, Father John served on a building committee for the Transfiguration Women’s Monastery. In 1968 Father was transferred to St. Mary’s Church in Allentown, PA where he served until 1972. During that time, Father and Pani continued to further their education and graduated from Kutztown University with the M.Ed. degrees in Secondary Guidance and Counseling. Father was next transferred to St. Mary’s Church in Morgantown, West Virginia, during which time Father began to pursue post-graduate work at West Virginia University. During that time he formed an Orthodox Christian Fellowship for university students. From 1975 to 1985, Father John taught Psychology and Pastoral Counseling at Christ the Saviour Seminary, at the same time pasturing SS. Peter and Paul Church in Central City, PA. A building project for the church was underway. Because of high unemployment, a food pantry for the area was organized by Father John who led the effort as its director for four years. In 1991, the Brancho Family moved to St. John the Baptist Church in North Side Pittsburgh, PA. Under his leadership, a Church School was re-organized and renovations to the parish properties were completed. From 1993-2005, Father taught Psychology at Westmoreland Community College. Pani Marie worked professionally as a teacher and school guidance counselor at school districts in the different church locations.

Since his retirement in 2010, at the discretion of Bishop Gregory, Father has been teaching at Christ the Saviour Seminary, as well as serving part-time the faithful of St. Mary’s Church in Jenners and St. John’s Church in North Side Pittsburgh. He also serves at the Cathedral, and teaches the Adult Study Group.

Photos Courtesy of Nicholas Bocher.
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