ANDOVER, MA – Over 500 people of all ages and walks of life, from Arlington, MA, Lowell, and the Greater Boston area, attended a dinner held on April 29 at the Indian Ridge Country Club in Andover, MA, owned by Market Basket head Arthur T. Demoulas, in honor and support of Fr. Nicholas Kastanas.
Fr. Kastanas was priest of the St. Athanasius the Great Greek Orthodox parish in Arlington for 28 years, but was dismissed last July by Metropolitan Methodios of Boston.
The dismissal created turmoil in the parish, with the vast majority of the parishioners reacting via mass exodus, creating dire consequences for a parish that was one of the most promising in the entire Archdiocese. Some now attend neighboring parishes, such as Annunciation of Woburn, Dormition of the Virgin Mary in Somerville, Sts. Constantine and Helen in Cambridge, and others simply do not attend church services at all anymore.
Over 50 families removed their children from the St. Athanasius Greek School and established their own called Greek Group Tutoring, teaching the students Greek language, history, and culture. The local hierarch unsuccessfully attempted to ban the Group from marching in Boston’s Greek Independence parade on April 22; the prudent decision of the Federation of Hellenic American Societies of New England, led by Bill Kafkas, ensured that the children were included. At the April 29 dinner, the children said the Lord’s Prayer and chanted “Christos Anesti.”
Fr. Kastanas and his wife, Litsa, children, and grandchildren, were present at the dinner.
Hundreds ran toward them and greeted them, hugging them, and many were crying. Kastanas also found it difficult due to the emotions to express a few words of thanks.
Speaking on behalf of the families, former St. Athanasius parishioner Despina Makredes said: “for those of us who know, Fr. Nicholas Kastanas, formerly serving as parish priest at St. Athanasius the Great in Arlington, MA, fully embodies the definition of goodness and character. Over the years, Fr. Nick has inspired his parishioners not only through his preaching but by his example of true goodness. Despite Fr. Nick’s outstanding reputation, last summer the Metropolis of Boston terminated his pastoral duties at St. Athanasius, for reasons that still have not been proven nor satisfy the majority of our parish body.
“Now, sadly, a vast majority of the parishioners have left the parish and are either attending other churches or not attending church at all… Many may not be aware that since his abrupt dismissal, Fr. Nick’s salary was terminated, his health insurance was taken away, his vehicle was confiscated, and his right to perform priestly duties was forbidden.
Additionally, his role as a well-loved professor at the Theological School in Brookline was also terminated. He has been abandoned by the Boston metropolitan and left with absolutely nothing.”