Rev. Fr. Philemon Payiatis
Father Philemon Payiatis, born in Corfu, Greece, October 18, 1927, came to America in 1947 to study at our Holy Cross Seminary in Pomfret under Bishop Athenagoras Cavadas who personally sponsored his invitation. Father Payiatis graduated in 1950, married his Presvytera Efrosine Kyriazos in June of that year and was ordained Deacon by Bishop Germanos Polizoides in July of 1950 and as a priest at the clergy conference in St. Louis, on November 30, 1950, by Archbishop Michael and Bishop Polizoides with Fathers Ezekiel Tsoukalas and Demetrios Makris participating His first assignment was in Dayton, Ohio, first as a Deacon and soon as the Proistamenos.
In serving the Annunciation Church in Dayton for twenty-five years, Father Payiatis gained the love, respect and admiration of not only his parishioners but also the general Dayton Community. His many contributions were well documented in the newspapers, which often reported his many activities and radio programs he participated in. He was the spokesman of not only the Greek Orthodox Community but very often was considered the "voice and conscience" of the entire City. His opinions, suggestions and concerns were very much sought after by people in high political office and by fellow clergy. He was often quoted as one of the most respected men of the cloth. He made the Greek Orthodox Faith almost a "house hold" name in the greater Dayton community. The essence of his ministry was captured in a resolution sponsored by Representative Charles W. Whallen, Jr. and issued on March 12, 1975 in which it was stated:
"In the two and half decades that Father Payiatis served the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, he has not limited his concerns to his parishioners. Rather, he has included in them the entire Dayton community, working for the welfare of all citizens in civic, as well as religious endeavors. He had done so as a member of the human relations council and as a member of the board of directors of the Red Cross and Travelers Aid.
"His contributions to the religious life of the community range from his participation in radio and television programs to serving as chaplain at the Veterans Administration Center. In addition, as a result of his efforts, the Dayton Board of Education established the policy of excusing the children of the Greek Orthodox Faith from school on special religious holy days. Father was also one of the innovators of ‘Keep Christ in Christmas' in Dayton.
"Father Payiatis' activities within the Greek Orthodox Church have spread far beyond his Annunciation Parish and the Dayton area. He has served as a member of the highest body of the Greek Orthodox Church in America - the Archdiocesan Council - and on the Youth Commission of the Archdiocese. In recognition of his work, Father Payiatis has received all of the titles the Church can bestow on a married priest. He also was chosen to be a member of the delegation of the Church to the funeral in Constantinople of His Holiness, Patriarch Athenagoras."
When Father Payiatis retired in Dayton a grand banquet was held where parishioners and friends outside the Annunciation Community gathered to express their gratitude and to wish him and his family well.
In 1975 Father Payiatis was asked by the Archdiocese to serve a parish in North Miami, which was in dire need of leadership. It was there - in another Annunciation Church - that he manifested the same leadership qualities he had before, serving not only the parishioners but also the greater North Miami Community, as Chaplain of the Grand Jury and several other civic endeavors.
Father Payiatis was one of the original members of the Presbyters Council and Represented the Metropolis on various occasions. He served the North Miami parish with the same vitality and enthusiasm until his early 1992 retirement.
When the time came for Father Payiatis to retire, in his simplicity and humility he requested that no banquet or testimonial be held in his honor, not wanting to tax the people with additional expenses. He rather chose to mark the end of his priestly service in the North Miami community by celebrating Divine Liturgy on Sunday, October 25, 1992.
However, even after his retirement, he continued to serve the Church in various ways. Together with the late Fr Demosthenes Mekras, they served congregations which had no full-time priest. Both served on the Board of the Retired Greek Orthodox Clergy. Father Payiatis served as Treasurer of the RCA Board for eight consecutive years. In 2004 he was chosen for the Metropolitan Clergy honor of outstanding priests of the Metropolis. Rev. Fr. Philemon went to be with the Lord on March 14, 2009.
Rev. Fr. Demosthenes J. Mekras
Rev. Fr. George X. Gallas