The Reverend George M. Franko passed away peacefully Friday, January 31 at Hospice of the Valley with his family by his side.
He was born in the Briar Hill section of Youngstown December 8, 1924, the youngest of nine children born to Joseph J. And Susanna Ferencak Franko.
Father was educated at Ss. Cyril and Methodius parochial school, Ursuline High School, Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit, and St. Mary’s Seminary, Cleveland. He was ordained a priest for the Youngstown Diocese on April 29, 1950 at St. Columba Cathedral. Father celebrated his first solemn Mass at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Church, the mother of the Slovak parishes in the Youngstown Diocese. He served the Lord and the Diocese faithfully during the nearly 70 years that followed. His first appointment in 1950 was to St. John the Baptist Parish in Campbell. He then was appointed assistant pastor at Holy Name Parish in Youngstown in June of 1951. Twelve years later he became pastor at St. Ambrose Parish, Garretsville for three years and then St. Joseph Parish, Newton Falls for two years. He returned to Holy Name Parish as pastor in 1968 where he remained until his retirement in 1989.
Fr. Franko remained active after retirement helping parishes where pastors were ill. He served as administrator of St. Matthias, Youngstown, St. Elizabeth, Campbell, and Holy Trinity, Struthers. He was a regular contributor to the Good Shepherd Annual, a publication of the Slovak Catholic Federation and wrote homilies for the Homiletic and Pastoral Review.
Father served as chaplain of Group 17 of the Slovak Catholic Sokols, notary and defender of the bond of the Diocesan Tribunal, ethics instructor at St. Elizabeth’s School of Nursing, member of the Central Committee of the First Synod of the Diocese of Youngstown, member of the Priests’ Senate and member of the Diocesan Financial Advisory Board.
Father had a lifelong love of the Slovak language, culture and history which he generously shared with others. He traveled to Slovakia numerous times and encouraged others to embrace their Slovak heritage.
Father Franko is survived by his nieces and nephews, Dr. Steven (Carol) Kalavsky of Boardman, Kathleen (Ken) Murr of Stow, Susan Franko of Girard, and Joseph (Marilyn) Franko of Niles, fourteen great nieces and great nephews, and twenty-four great-great nieces and great-great nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, four brothers, Joseph, Stephen, Michael, and John and four sisters Mary Dutko, Catherine Donnelly, Veronica Kalavsky, and Elizabeth Franko as well as two nieces, Suzanne Kalavsky Doumitt and Joni Kalavsky Phelps.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Wednesday, February 5 at 10 AM at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish at Holy Name Church, 613 N. Lakeview Ave., Youngstown. Calling hours will be Tuesday, February 4 from 4 to 7 PM and Wednesday from 9 to 9:45 AM at Holy Name Church.
In lieu of flowers, Masses may be offered for the repose of his soul per Fr. Franko’s request or donations made to Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Trumbull County, 2431 Niles Rd, SE, Warren, Ohio 44484
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