On Tuesday, June 16, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Luke of Syracuse celebrated Divine Liturgy and served the funeral for Matushka Marina Girard, who reposed in the Lord after a long serious illness on Wednesday, July 12.
Serving alongside His Grace were Archpriest Serge Lukianov (rector of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ), Archpriest George Lardas (cleric of the Mid-American Diocese), Hieromonk Ambrose (Sitalo; cleric of the Orthodox Mission in St. George’s, Grenada) and Deacon Alexander Doohovskoy (cleric of St. Xenia Church in Methuen, MA).
Fr. George Lardas delivering the eulogy after the funeral. Bishop Luke relayed the condolences of the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York.
Matushka Marina was interred next to her husband, Archpriest Laurence Girard (+2012), a longtime priest in ROCOR.
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Matushka Marina (Maureen) Girard was born in Buffalo, NY, on December 8, 1940 to Grace (née Haas) and George McConeghy. She was raised in the Roman Catholic faith and received a traditional education in parochial schools. She then went on to attend nursing school, received her RN, and there she met Fr. Laurence (Robert) Girard. They married in 1964. They were both commissioned officers in the U.S. Air Force, though Matushka outranked her husband. Fr. Laurence was stationed in Japan, and they lived there from 1966-1968, and he worked as a nurse in a military hospital taking care of soldiers coming out of Vietnam. She gave up her commission to accompany him.
They returned to the U.S., and together they found their way to Orthodoxy through the Antiochian Church in 1969, because of the changes that came with Vatican II. Shortly thereafter, they met Archbishop Nikon (Rklitsky; +1976), who ordained Fr. Laurence to both the deaconate (1973) and priesthood (1975). They remained at St. Vladimir Memorial Church, Jackson, NJ, for several years and eventually moved to Boston in 1976, where Fr. Laurence served for many years as second priest at Holy Epiphany Church with Fr. Roman Lukianov.
Fr. Laurence and Matushka Marina moved to Florida in 1992 where they both helped establish missions in the South, and she was very active in organizing the Orthodox Southern Missions Conferences. Both she and Fr. Laurence offered support and guidance where they could to any and all who needed it, no questions asked.
Fr. Laurence and Matushka Marina displayed humility and fortitude at a time in the Church when the use of the English language in the services was still in its infancy. Neither one of them ever learned Russian, but both still embraced Slavonic and Greek, and were grateful that God brought them to Orthodoxy. They were among the pioneers of American converts in Russian Orthodox Church.
Matushka Marina was a very intelligent woman, who in a span of less than ten years earned her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. She went on to teach in several universities and was an unstoppable force that was always working toward a goal. She enjoyed intellectual debate and discourse. Whether she was writing, embroidering, tending to her plants, or just enjoying her family, she did it all with heart and a tremendous amount of energy.
She was a unique lady who spoke her mind and was passionate about helping, especially those suffering from addiction. Those who spent any time with her walked away knowing that they had encountered a one-of-a-kind person. She made not only her heart but her home available to those who needed a place to lay their heavy burdens.
Dementia in her later years stole much of what she was. However, the inner Matushka Marina was ever present, with a side that was very endearing and almost childlike. She bore the dementia and her subsequent decline without any complaint and brought joy to so many with her beautiful smile and blue eyes.
Matushka Marina leaves behind Maria, Yvette, and Paul. One child, Mark, who reposed in 1975, awaited her. She survived the loss of this child with great forbearance, which made her more admirable, and she never questioned God’s will in this. Matushka Marina has 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Her sense of humor, interesting stories, and spice for life will be sorely missed. She is treasured and deeply loved.
Memory Eternal to the newly reposed handmaiden of God Marina!
Jordanville, NY: Bishop Luke serves Funeral for Matushka Marina Girard in Holy Trinity Monastery - 06/18/19
Photos: S. Ishanin