BIOGRAPHY

Raymond J. Mastroberte's ministry as an iconographer spans over 30 years. Born in Passaic, New Jersey of parents of Slovak and Italian ancestry, his interest in iconography begins in the city of his birth.

Educated and raised in both Roman and Greek Catholic traditions, Ray attended parochial grade schools where he acquired his appreciation for fine iconography. Practically surrounded by churches of various old world backgrounds such as Slovak, Hungarian, Carpatho-Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, and German, he made it a regular habit to visit these places of worship.

Prior to graduation from Passaic High School in 1979, Ray was received into the Orthodox Christian faith at Saint John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Church in Passaic where he was to serve as cantor a few years later. This experience would later prove to be very helpful when he assumed a position as cantor/choir director at Saint John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Church, (Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Diocese) Rahway, New Jersey. He served as a cantor at Saint Mary of the Assumption Byzantine Catholic Church in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania from 2002 to 2006. Presently, he serves as cantor at Saint Nicholas Orthodox Greek Catholic Church" of Lansford, PA. He also has directed choirs and been a leader of song for various churches in northeastern Pennsylvania and Central New Jersey. Ray has a deep admiration for the ecclesiastical traditions of his ancestors, most especially of the "plain chant," commonly known as "Prostopinije."

Ray visited the land of his Slavic heritage in 1979 with his maternal grandfather, John Sotak. During their three week stay in Slovakia, he got to meet relatives in Konus and Baskovce (north of Sobrance) and visit many churches which exhibit many fine examples of iconography, such as the wooden Greek Catholic Church of Saint Michael the Archangel in the village of Inovce, which dates back to the early 19th century. He visited the neighboring village of Chonkovce where his grandparents where married, and where his grandmother attended the Church of the Annunciation to the Mother of God. It was in this church, that Cantor Joseph Malinich served before he went to be the Cathedral cantor in Uzhorod (present-day Ukraine) and who helped codify the Plain Chant along with Father John Boshaj. It is one of his desires to travel again to Slovakia for the purpose of painting churches and panels in the land of his spiritual and maternal roots.

After studying with the late iconographer Seth Cornwall, Ray's style of iconography has evolved into a pleasant mix of Byzantine and Russian styles. He has produced literally thousands of pieces for homes, churches and chapels which can be seen not only in the United States, but also in Canada, Mexico, France, Luxembourg, Italy, Vatican City, Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, Syria, and Germany. His work has been the subject of numerous newspaper articles, most recently featured in the Scranton Times of Pennsylvania. He has also been interviewed by the local NBC affiliate for the nightly news.

A special milestone in Ray's career was in October of 2004 when he celebrated his 25th year as an iconographer at Saint Mary's Byzantine Catholic Church in Wilkes-Barre, PA. During the two-day event, 200 people visited the exhibit of 100 pieces of original artwork.

Ray is available to give presentations on the subject of iconography to the public. He has been given the opportunity to speak at seminaries, clergy gatherings, altar boy retreats, churches, schools and interfaith meetings. His articles on prayer and spirituality have been a regular monthly feature of the "Orthodox Herald" from 1997 to 2006.

Ray operates an Icon Studio located in Lansford (Carbon County) PA. His other interests include travel, talk radio, politics, free-market economics, libertarian thought, self-improvement, website creation, the internet, free-lance writing, liturgical composition, ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue and contemporary Christian music. He is a member of "Christian Communities Gathering of Northeastern Pennsylvania".

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