JERSEY CITY, NJ – His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey celebrated his name day and the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary (Evangelismos tis Theotokou) in the church of the same name in Jersey City on March 25. Among those present were the Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras and many faithful.
In his speech, Metropolitan Evangelos expressed joy and gratitude that, for yet another year, God granted so that he could celebrate his name day in the commemoration of the Annunciation.
He said, “It is for a small but great in history, love, effort, and charity parish. Today, however, we celebrate not only the Evangelismos of the Most Holy Theotokos but also the Evangelismos of our homeland, as this blessed day was chosen by our glorious ancestors, not by accident, to declare the Revolution against the Ottoman conquerors in 1821.
The Greek fighters, at the Monastery of Agia Lavra, placed the Virgin Mary as the patron of the Greek Revolution and, in front of the icon of the Virgin Mary, they gave their serious oath “Freedom or Death,” which they kept throughout, fighting with unparalleled boldness and bravery without any compromise. Thousands of Greeks, clergy and laymen, with the slogan from Rigas Feraios’ verse, “better to live one hour free than forty years as a slave and prisoner,” spilled their blood to drive out the gloomy darkness of enslavement and liberate our people.
As Orthodox Christians, we stand in awe in front of the glorious Theotokos, and we are grateful for her, because our salvation was sealed by her own supreme contribution to the work of Divine Economy. Our duty and sacred obligation is to be worthy of this gift, to remain firm and steadfast in our faith. I wish you many years, blessed and always free.”
Consul General Konstantinos Koutras said, “The Greek Revolution is a brilliant example of heroism, patriotism, and unity. Today, we honor the struggles and sacrifices of the liberators of our homeland. We also honor the universal values of Hellenism and Christianity, such as democracy, virtue, dignity, faith and love for humanity. The great and important things we accomplished together. The Greeks of the Diaspora and philhellenes – lovers of ancient Greek grandeur, repaid the debt they owed, as they said, to Greece, by offering their own lives. Our story is part of our identity, which we must keep as an amulet, to stand out in society, and not assimilate.”
The presiding priest of the community, Fr. Apostolos P. Panos, wished Metropolitan Evangelos all the best for his name day feast and a good Lent to all the Greek community.
Parish Council President Dionysios Koukounaras told The National Herald about the church’s history. He said, “Our church was built in 1935 and for many decades the community flourished. But slowly, Hellenism began to move from the area. Today, although we have few members, we are still a dynamic community doing everything we can to keep the unique church, the only one in all of New Jersey dedicated to the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary.”
Philoptochos President Eva Stefanou noted that there are 35 ladies in the society, with the primary aim and purpose of strengthening and supporting the poor parishioners and non-parishioners as well.
Athanasios Vittas, former president of the parish council and for 60 years a member of the community, wished all Hellenes many years of health, joy, and prosperity.
Nicholas Holevas, also a former president and 54-year member, said that due to its geographical location, next to the port and Ellis Island, there were countless Greeks over the years visiting the church to light a candle and ask for help from the Panagia.
Following the Divine Liturgy, a meal was served in the community hall.