Fr. Anthony Coniaris
Rev. Anthony M. Coniaris was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1926, the first son of Michael Coniaris from Ellinikon, Greece and Bessie Karalekas from Pavlia, Greece. He attended Boston Latin School and then went on to graduate from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Theological Seminary in Brookline, Massachusetts. Coniaris received a Masters of Divinity from Northwestern Theological Seminary in Minneapolis, and continued studies in the fields of religion and psychiatry at the University of Minnesota and at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota.
Coniaris was ordained a priest in 1953 and served as pastor of our St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church for 39 years, from 1953 – 1992 – his only parish assignment. He was responsible for overseeing the move of the parish from the old Lake Street location to the current site overlooking Bde Maka Ska (Lake Calhoun). During his pastorate at St. Mary’s, he not only shepherded a community that predominantly used the English languages in the services, he also created an atmosphere that warmly welcomed people converting to the Orthodox faith. The parish became a paradigm for other Orthodox parishes throughout the country in how to embrace Americans looking for the true faith. His sermons also had the hallmark of practical application in people’s daily lives.
After his retirement in January 1993 he devoted most of his time to Light & Life Publishing Company which he founded in 1968. According to Fr. Coniaris, “I never dreamed of being a writer. God used a parishioner to ‘push’ me into a writing career.” He authored more than 75 books, pamphlets and brochures. Light & Life became one of the largest distributors of Orthodox materials in the world. He also lectured at retreats and seminars at several Orthodox parishes in the US as well as in Canada. In addition, Coniaris was an Adjunct Professor of Homiletics at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Seminary in Brookline, Massachusetts, and taught there during his retirement.
He was past President of the Minneapolis Ministerial Association, the Twin Cities Metropolitan Church Commission, the Minneapolis Professional Men’s Club, the Minneapolis Kiwanis, and the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches. He was a member of the Board of the Children’s Heart Fund, and was listed in WHO’S WHO in RELIGION 1976-77. He received the WCCO Good Neighbor Award in 1973 and the Alumnus of the Year from Holy Cross Seminary. In 2018, he was awarded the Degree of Doctor of Divinity from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
Fr. Coniaris fell asleep in the Lord March 15, 2020, at the age of 93. His wife, Mary Pappas Coniaris, preceded him in death in July 1991, after 42 years of marriage. They were partners in the ministry at St Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church in South Minneapolis their entire marriage. He was the father of two children, Paul Coniaris (Beverly), and Patty Christopulos (Daniel). And, at the time of his passing had seven grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren. May his memory be eternal and live on in our community.