Our St. George the Great Martyr Orthodox Church is a parish of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) in the Diocese of the South. Father Silviu N. Bunta is our current pastor and our current bishops are His Eminence Archbishop Alexander (Golitzin) and His Grace Bishop Gerasim (Eliel).
Our parish traces its roots to 1978. Orthodox Christians had already lived in the Rio Grande Valley for decades and in 1978 the Diocesan Chancellery Office in Dallas published an article in the RGV newspaper The Monitor inquiring about the local need and desire for an Orthodox parish. It was Alexander Nicholas Paraskeves who first responded with a letter petitioning that an Orthodox mission be formed in the valley. These initiatives led to the gathering of our founding members, among whom were Peter and India Peters, Thomas Peters, Norma Hodge, James and Antoinette Shwery, Alex Paraskeves, and John and Evangeline Vasos.
Archbishop Dmitri presided over the first service for the founders of our parish on February 9, 1979. It was a Vespers service held at the University of Texas Pan-American’s Catholic Student Center. This was followed by monthly services celebrated at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in McAllen until August of 1979. Beginning in September of 1979, services were held twice a month at the Valley Garden Center, also in McAllen. By June of 1980, the newly formed mission began holding weekly reader’s services. The Divine Liturgy was served approximately once a month, when a priest was available from another Orthodox church.
John Reeves, a former Episcopalian Priest and a recent convert to Orthodoxy, came to live in the Rio Grande Valley during the summer of 1980. In April of 1981, he was ordained by Archbishop Dmitri to the Priesthood in the Orthodox Church. With the new priest the mission began holding regular Divine Liturgies and services. Father John’s most pressing initial task was to help build up the mission into a parish. In the early days, Fr. John and his family hosted many services, served meals, and led Bible studies and services in their home.
In January 1981, the budding mission purchased our current site, which is located at 704 W. Sam Houston in Pharr, Texas. The mission’s building project began immediately. Edinburg’s Shwery and Hodge families of well-known contractors and developers helped considerably in the construction of the church. On Palm Sunday, April 13, 1982, the first worship service was held in the new building, which is still our church today.
In 1996 Fr. John departed the Rio Grande Valley for State College, Pennsylvania. Our next pastor was Fr. Aaron Archer. He served our community from 1996 until the summer of 2001, when he left the area for St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York state.
The South Central Diocesan Dean, Fr. Dimitri Cozby, who resided in San Antonio, served as interim rector until Fr. Antonio Perdomo and his family arrived into the parish in December of 2001.
Fr. Antonio served St. George faithfully for 20 years, until his repose in April 2021. Under his care, in the spring of 2003, the parish paid off its initial mortgage and, a few years later, added on a much-needed larger hall which has better facilities for ministry, education, service projects, and social activities.
After Fr. Antonio's untimely falling asleep in 2021, we did not have a priest for almost two years. Services continued to be held every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, but they were mostly reader's services, due to the unwavering commitment of the parish members. Fr. David Wooten from San Antonio and His Grace Bishop Gerasim of Fort Worth visited as often as they could in order to offer regular services, particularly the Divine Liturgy on one Saturday a month and on Great Feasts, such as Pascha.
We finally saw an end to our long quest for a priest in June 2022, when Fr. Silviu N. Bunta, a native of Romania and a Professor looking to retire from academia in the area, relocated to the valley from Ohio with his wife, Presvytera Maria. In January 2023, Fr. Silviu became our newest priest. Only a few days later, Mitred Archpriest Kyril Riggs, also recently relocated to the area, was attached to our parish in retirement. Please see more information about them on their own pages.
St. George continues to live out its ministry to God and service to the world through the supplications of our patron saint.
Please see documents and photos from our past here.
Hymns of our saint
Apolytikion: Fourth Tone
As liberator of the imprisoned, defender of the poor, physician of the sick, and champion of kings, O trophy-bearer great martyr George, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.
Kontakion: Fourth Tone
Tilled by God, you were shown as a most-honorable tiller of piety, gathering for yourself the sheaves of virtues. For sowing with tears you reap with gladness, and contending through blood you came away with Christ, and by your intercessions, O holy one, you grant to all forgiveness of transgressions.