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St Olympia Welcomes Father Peter and Matushka Mary to Potsdam


Father Peter and Matushka Mary


Fr. Peter Irfan was born into a Roman Catholic family in Lahore, Pakistan. His
love for Christ led him to attend Catholic seminaries for five years in preparation
for the priesthood. However, God had a different plan: he worked at Bethania
Hospital in Sialkot, Pakistan, for nine years where he met Mary, a Christ-filled
young woman from a devout Protestant family who was a nurse at that hospital.
They fell in love and married. He taught music in boarding schools, led seminars,
youth rallies and youth camps, and founded the Christian Youth Alliance
through the Catholic Diocese in Pakistan. He later moved back to Lahore and
founded the Christian-based Council of Youth Advisors, eventually becoming its
CEO. The mission of this organization, which still exists today, is to save youth
from drug use and addiction through education, sports activities, seminars and
varied social activities. Although his marriage had prohibited his ordination
to the Catholic priesthood, he felt in his heart that God was still calling him to
the ministry. One day, a friend from his seminary days gave him a pamphlet on
Orthodoxy. Intrigued by the beliefs and encouraged by the inclusion of married
clergy, he investigated further and eventually was sponsored to come to this
country to learn more about the Faith. He and Matushka immigrated to the U.S.
in 2001, first living New York City and then moving to Buffalo where Fr. Peter
was later attached to St. George Orthodox Church. He first came to Potsdam for
a Sunday in Great Lent on an emergency basis, and then for all of Holy Week.
With the blessing of Archbishop Michael, his service to St. Olympia Orthodox
Church continued until earlier this month while appropriate documents were
being prepared for the longer-term assignment of Acting Rector.

Fr. Peter feels that his specific calling is missionary work, to spread the love of
Christ through the Gospels. We are grateful for his and Mat. Mary’s deep faith to
be willing to move to Potsdam and for him to become the spiritual leader of our
mission. Fr. Peter and Mat. Mary will also have, as Fr. Peter puts it, “secular” jobs
in order to make this happen for us. Fr. Peter has had diverse work experiences
and has also spent many years in auto parts sales. Mat. Mary was an R.N. in
Pakistan. Presently, she is seeking a position in the medical field and eventually
hopes to get certified in the U.S. as an R.N. (she is already certified as a CNA
and CMA). The Irfans have two grown daughters: Saba, who lives in New Jersey
and works in New York City, and Sada, who lives and works in Buffalo. Another
special part of the Irfan family is Barney, a highly intelligent Cockatiel who also
has become a North Country resident.

We are deeply grateful to Archbishop Michael who blessed and encouraged,
and also enabled Fr. Peter’s assignment through diocesan financial support, and
to Fr. Alexey Karlgut, Dean of New York State, for much help and guidance.

© 2021 St Olympia Orthodox Church