Father Theologos, Presiding Priest
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Fr. Theologos Pandelis was born in 1964 in Amarousion, Greece, and given the name Panayiotis by
his parents Grigorios and Constandina Pandelis. He grew up in a loving family, with his grandfather
taking him regularly to all the church services. The old and pious priest of the parish, Fr. John had a
positive effect on young Panayiotis filling him with spiritual and practical sayings, advice and stories.
He graduated in 1988 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the National Polytechnic University
(Εθνικο Μετσοβιο Πολυτεχνειο) in Athens. During his college years, he also attended the Conservatory
of Byzantine Music at the cathedral of St. Dimitrios in Kifisia and was officially appointed as chanter at
the church of St. Luke at the Hippokration Hospital in Athens. He also became involved with the summer
camp of the Metropolis of Ierissos helping Fr. Chrysostomos Maidonis, the Chancellor of the Metropolis.
More importantly, during his college years, he had the opportunity to visit The Holy Mountain/Agion
Oros several times and was blessed to meet and talk to holy people that had a great impact on his life.
After graduation, Panayiotis was granted a full scholarship from the University of Houston in Houston,
TX, and came to the U.S. to pursue graduate studies in electrical engineering. It was during this time that
he met his future wife, Jennifer (baptismal name Eugenia), while visiting his brother at the University of
Michigan. They married in 1995 and have been blessed with four children: Grigorios , Elpida, Dimitrios,
During the first years of marriage, Panayiotis worked as the Operations Manager for a marine
engineering company in Houston. The young couple became active in the parish of St. John the
Theologian in Webster, TX and taught Sunday school, were chairmen for the Greek Festivals, and
Panayiotis also served as the chanter and a parish council member. In 1996, Panayiotis was elevated to
the rank of Reader by Bishop Isaiah at this church.
In 1997, they moved to Chicago. Panayiotis worked as a Design Engineer until his desire to assist the
church in a more profound way led him away from engineering. With the blessing of Metropolitan
Iakovos and with the agreement of his wife, Panayiotis made the life changing decision to attend Holy
Cross School of Theology in Brookline, MA.
After graduation from Holy Cross in 2003 with a Masters of Divinity, Panayiotis accepted a position as
the Lay Assistant/Youth Director at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Des Plaines, Illinois. In
this position, he was in charge of overseeing the weekly meetings of the various youth groups as well as
organizing the seasonal retreats and camps. He also served as the resource person to the priests of St.
John providing them with the necessary material towards the various ministries of the parish. Teaching
the Catechumens class was also one of Panayiotis responsibilities. Since Panayiotis was the chanter for
all services and the Sexton for baptisms, weddings and all other services, memorizing the order of the
church services and sacraments was a natural result. Additionally, Panayiotis taught Byzantine chant to
students of various levels as part of the School of Byzantine Music of the Metropolis of Chicago.
After serving 4 years in the parish of St. John, Panayiotis decided to develop his strength for teaching
youth. So he attended the University of Northern Michigan, and obtained a Post –Baccalaureate Degree
in Secondary Education in Mathematics and Physics. While seeking employment as a teacher, he was
careful to consider location, and knew that he wanted an Orthodox environment reminiscent of Holy
Cross and St. John in Des Plaines. Panayiotis also knew that he wanted to be involved with the church
and help it in any way he could. Therefore, he only looked for jobs in Alaska, where Orthodoxy was first
introduced to the Americas. After several interviews and job offers, Panayiotis accepted the position for
the Math/Science teacher in Marshall, Alaska. Marshall is a remote village of approximately 400 people,
located along the lower part of the Yukon River in SW Alaska and is accessible only by small planes.
Orthodoxy was first brought to this area by Saint Jacob Netsvetov around 1840. However, the Orthodox
in Marshall did not have a full-time priest and therefore with the blessings of Fr. Michael Oleksa, the
Chancellor of the Alaska Diocese, Panayiotis and Jennifer initiated a Sunday School program as well as a
Youth Group for the older children.
However, although Panayiotis enjoyed teaching and being involved with the local community in
different capacities, he was not at peace. He felt like the Psalmist: “Ον τροπον επιποθει η ελαφος επι
τας πηγας των υδατων, ουτως επιποθει η ψυχη μου προς σε, ο Θεος». Panayiotis change of heart to
the priesthood came when Father John Reeves visited the village for a month in September 2010 on a
mission trip. His advice soothed Panayiotis heart as he encouraged him to contact Metropolitan Iakovos
of Chicago and to stop running away from God’s will. Soon thereafter, the Metropolitan’s paternal love
and encouragement led to the return to the Midwest and to Ordination.
By the Grace of God and through the Apostolic Tradition of the Laying on of Hands, His Eminence,
Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago Ordained the servant of God Panayiotis Pandelis to the Holy Diaconate
on September 11, 2011. He was ordained to the Holy Priesthood on September 25, 2011 with his name
being changed to “Theologos” .
Father Theologos’ lifetime of experiences and seemingly varied path, has the persistent theme of
serving the Church. With every experience, job, move, he gained a deeper love for Christ and useful
practical experience in how to be a Priest. He identifies with people in all walks of life and those who
have had challenges in their life.
St. Peter’s words: “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by
compulsion but willingly, not by dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to
you, but being examples to the flock;” (1Peter 5:2-3), summarize Father Theologos mission as a joyful
servant of the Church.