RYE, NY – May 6 was a very special, joyful, and historic day for all generations of the parish of Our Savior in Rye, NY. Archbishop Demetrios Geron of America officiated at the Divine Liturgy and blessing of the newly renovated building complex.
The archbishop was assisted by presiding priest (19 years) Fr. Elias Villis,, Archdeacon Panteleimon, Deacon Eulogios of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and good cantors headed by Antonios Papathanasiou, Dean of Students of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (HCHC).
Archbishop Demetrios announced that Papathanasiou will be ordained to the Diaconate on May 19 the day of graduation at Holy Cross chapel.
From start to finish – design, approval and construction – the renovation project took five years. During the construction, the Church complex was gutted and rebuilt in a spectacular fashion. The result is a Church that is modern from a utility standpoint but which maintains the historic, architectural, and aesthetic qualities of the original.
The renovation was made possible by the generous donations of Robin and Michael Psaros of $2 million, Theodore and Karen Mathas of $2 million, and John and Joella Lykouretzos of $1 million, with the balance from the Church community.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Demetrios officiated at the Agiasmos Service and the ribbon-cutting for the dedication of the newly renovated buildings.
In an interview with The National Herald he praised the parish and the donors and said “today is a beautiful day. If you knew the old community center, this is a great achievement. They have done a great job. It cost many millions, but there were big donations that made the project possible. Many warm congratulations.”
He added that “it is very good parish. I wanted this project very much to done for another reason also in honor and memory of the late Archbishop Iakovos, who lived in Rye and he came to this church during his retirement years.”
In the brief interview, the archbishop did not comment on other matters, such as the state of the Archdiocese.
Michael Psaros, co-Founder and co-Managing Partner of KPS and manager of the KPS Special Situations Funds, told TNH that “this is an epic day for the Church of Our Savior. This day only happens once or twice a century. I am so proud of our priest, Fr. Elias, our Parish Council and our parishioners, who invested five years of our lives and $6.5 million to create a truly 21st century Church complex. We just made an investment in our Church’s future for the next half century and our children’s future. Today is not just a great day for our parish, but for the entire Archdiocese. We are a thriving, growing, and deeply devout parish that demonstrates the vibrancy of Orthodoxy, and the potential for unlimited growth, in all of America.”
Theodore Mathas Chairman of the Board and CEO of New York Life Insurance Company told TNH that “I feel terrific, this is a great day for us; this is a wonderful community; it was very welcoming to us when we first came here, my wife Karen and I, 18 years ago. All three of our children were baptized here; Fr. Elias created an unbelievable energy and spirituality. It was his visions and his passions that Karen and I, Mike and Robin and John and Joella, and our families, were able to get behind it and create the initial enthusiasm, and by doing this the rest of the community followed.”
A third-generation American, Mathias’ mother’s family is from Lesbos and his father’s from outside of Athens.
He said Orthodoxy has been part of his life since the very beginning. “Both of my parents sing in the choir. My dad was the president of the community in Virginia; I was the president of GOYA. The spirituality and the community makes me who I am and how I present myself to the word today.”
He embraces Hellenism “enthusiastically. Greece has been the source of so many contributions to the world to which we live.”
John Lykouretzos, president of the Hoplite Capital Management, told TNH that the renovation “is the product of hard work, of planning, and preparation lead by the Parish Council and Fr. Elias.” A parish member since 2008, he described it as “a wonderful community, very welcoming.”
During the luncheon, Psaros praised Parish Council President Nicholas Balidis
for his hard work and countless hours in overseeing the renovation.