Ex-Roman Catholic priest to lead local Orthodox flock
THE FLINT JOURNAL FIRST EDITION
Saturday, November 09, 2002
By George Jaksa
JOURNAL RELIGION WRITER
BURTON - The Rev. David J. Lis was among the Roman Catholics displeased
with some of the changes instituted by the church after the 1962-65 Second
As a priest, Lis lived with the changes daily. But by 1986, he had had
enough and left the active ministry.
"The church had gone in a different direction since Vatican II," he said.
"I could no longer with a full heart support and represent the new
direction the church has gone through."
After 14 years in private business, Lis returned to the active ministry in
2000 as a priest in the Orthodox Church in America.
He was assigned to St. John the Baptist Church in Black Lick, Pa., and on
Oct. 1 became rector of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Burton.
Born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1950, Lis was ordained as a Catholic priest in
1980. He was in parish work and was a member of the archdiocesan tribunal
before leaving the ministry.
Living as a Catholic layman, Lis worked for businesses in Columbus, Ohio;
Washington, D.C.; and Ferndale after moving back to Toledo.
"In 1997, I became more and more saddened with what was happening in the
church and wanted to get reconnected," Lis said.
At the invitation of the Rev. Raphael Biernacki, who came from Lis' Toledo
neighborhood and is a former pastor of St. Nicholas, Lis attended a Divine
Liturgy at St. George Cathedral in Toledo.
He began attending Orthodox services while working with Biernacki and, in
January 2000, was vested as an ordained priest in the Orthodox Church in
"One stipulation was that I would recognize my Roman Catholic orders to
remain celibate, and I had no problem with that," said Lis, who said he
likes the stability of the Orthodox church.
"The Orthodox church hasn't changed its teachings since 780 A.D. after
seven church councils," Lis said. "I compare the Orthodox and Roman church
to the army and Marines in the military, with the Orthodox taking the
tougher road as Marines."
The Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches separated in 1054.
"We need to heal the schism," Lis said.
Lis moved from a 35-household parish in Black Lick, about 40 miles east of
Pittsburgh, to one of the largest in the Orthodox Church in America with
It's one of four Orthodox churches in Genesee County which include
Antiochian and Greek Orthodox churches along with a new one, St. Mary
Magdalene Orthodox Church, founded in July by Lis' predecessor, the Rev.
Jannakos holds services temporarily in the Knights of Columbus Hall at St.
John Roman Catholic Church in Fenton, serving Orthodox followers in
southern Genesee County and Livingston County.