MONTREAL – After two years and four months, the historic Koimisis tis Theotokou Church in Montreal’s Parc-Extension is preparing to rejoice with the Greek faithful. The church, better known in the Montreal community as “Panagitsa” was completely destroyed by fire on April 13, 2015.
The building was demolished four months later, with the exception of the rescued chapel on its eastern side, and rebuilt into the same architectural style and with the same dome on its roof, with a budget of $2.7 million Canadian.
Now, “Panagitsa” opens its doors, though temporarily, for the Greek community on the occasion of the big celebration of the 15th of August. Immediately afterwards, it will be closed to complete the final phase of the work and to set a date for the inauguration in September.
The reopening of “Panagitsa” will help alleviate the heavy climate that had been created in recent days in Montreal due to the cancellation of the Annunciation festival in Parc-Extension.
Fr. Nikolaos Papageorgiou, the presiding priest of the church, will welcome Metropolitan of Toronto and all Canada, Sotirios, for the Great Vespers. It will be followed by the procession of the icon of the Virgin Mary through the surrounding streets, as every year.
On Tuesday, August 15, the feast day of the Megalochari, the Koimisis tis Theotokou, Holy Communion will begin at 6 AM for the workers, while the Divine Liturgy and Doxology will be held at the usual time.
All the faithful will have the opportunity to visit the church. Work is expected to be completed shortly so that the church can be opened to the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal and the date set for the official opening of its doors.
“The faithful who arrive on August 14 and 15 are kindly requested to follow the instructions of the church’s security officers to avoid overcrowding,” the Greek community said in an informative memo.
The National herald visited the church on Thursday afternoon, August 10, and found the work continued on as usual. The scaffolding and the other protective barriers have been removed and from the exterior, an entirely new building is emerging.
The new church has been equipped with modern fire detection and fire protection systems so that it will “remain in Montreal for centuries as a symbol and reference point for the Greek Orthodox faith and the Greek community, said John Theodosopoulos, president of the construction company Ecodomus, who undertook the reconstruction of the church.
“I understand the emotion and the impatience of our community,” he told TNH. “Panagitsa” opened for the first time on May 5, 1968, on Saint Roch Street, in the center of Parc-Extension, an area where thousands of Greek families have lived for decades.