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Fr. Francavilla, pastor of Holy Transfiguration Church, dies

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Father Joseph Francavilla, 76, pastor of Holy Transfiguration Greek Melkite-Catholic Church in McLean, died Nov. 13 at 6:45 a.m. after a two year battle with pancreatic cancer. He is survived by three brothers: Thomas Francavilla, 80, Charles Francavilla, 77, and Paul Francavilla, 65.

“With the faithful of the Diocese of Arlington, I offer my prayers and support to the family of Fr. Francavilla,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge. “He was an exemplary priest known for his fidelity to Jesus Christ, love of his vocation, and solemn reverence for the Divine Liturgy. I pray that today he rests in the arms of the loving God that Fr. Francavilla served so faithfully.”

Father Francavilla was born Jan. 16, 1943, and grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., in an Italian-American family. He attended The Catholic University of America in Washington, where he met Father Armand Jacopin, the first pastor of Holy Transfiguration. The encounter inspired Father Francavilla to learn more about the Eastern Catholic churches. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Justin Najmy at the Our Lady of the Annunciation Cathedral in West Roxbury, Mass., May 5, 1968. 

Father Francavilla served at the cathedral until 1971, when he was sent to the fledging Holy Transfiguration after the untimely death of Father Jacopin. During Father Francavilla’s tenure, the parish grew from 30 families to 400. Though he was the sole clergy member when he arrived, now the parish is additionally served by Father Ephrem Handal, Protodeacon David Barody, and Deacons David Black, Oliver Black, Elias Dorham and Joseph Olt.

In a recent Catholic Herald article, Father Francavilla expressed his love for the parish, saying, “I am fortunate to have been able to baptize the children, and in some cases, the grandchildren of parishioners whom I, as a young priest, baptized as infants and to have seen our parish family grow beyond expectation. People come to us attracted by what we offer: a faith community, the beauty of Byzantine worship, a vision of the holiness of life, the mystery of God beyond human kind, an entry into the transcendent.”

The funeral will be held Nov. 18. Father Francavilla will be interred the following day in Vienna next to his longtime friend and fellow priest Archimandrite Charles Aboody at Andrew Chapel Cemetery in Vienna. 

Father Mark Melone has been assigned temporary administrator of the parish. 



© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019