CATSKILLS, NY – The Northern Chios Society of Pelineon- Agia Markella welcomed hundreds of Greek-Americans on July 13-14 to its annual celebration of the feast day of St. Markella.
The actual feast of the beloved martyr is on July 22, but the Society traditionally holds vespers services and the Divine Liturgy on the Saturday and Sunday before or after the feast day.
This year, the ecclesiastical celebrations were even more distinctive, as His Eminence Metropolitan Markos traveled from Chios to preside over the services and the church is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
According to the organizers’ estimates, around 300 people attended on Saturday evening, while more than 800 people attended the weekend’s events altogether.
“Buses arrived from Brooklyn, Queens, and Pennsylvania. Other friends came with their cars from New Jersey and other areas. The celebration with traditional Chian music on Saturday night ended at 4 in the morning, but we did not go to sleep because three hours later the Sunday program started,” Society President Dimitris Moutafis said.
Metropolitan Markos of Chios presided over the services on Sunday along with Rev. Fr. Vasilios Louros, from St. Demetrios Cathedral of Astoria, who comes from Chios and is the presiding priest of the Church of St. Markella. At the same time, two memorials were held: one in memory of George Leonardos, an active member of the Dafnousion Society, and a second dedicated to all the expatriate Chians who have departed this life in recent years.
“I would like, for all of us, to thank our Metropolitan Markos and Mayor Manolis Vournou and his wife, who kindly accepted our invitation and were here. I want to note that Metropolitan Markos’ speeches, one on Saturday night and one on Sunday morning were moving. His words touched us all. Everyone was tearing up with emotion. It was unbelievable,” said Moutafis.
The Metropolitan of Chios honored Nikos Katsapis and Konstantinos Rallis with the icon of St. Markella, as well as the Society President Moutafis.
At the same time, His Eminence distributed small icons of St. Markella to the whole congregation, and donated to the church a piece of stone from the place where the holy martyrdom of St. Markella occurred in Chios.
At the same time, Moutafis particularly thanked all those who contributed to the success of the events, making special reference to Steve Zervoudis and George Siamboulis, who acted on behalf of Pan Gregorian.
Metropolitan of Chios: Religion is the coherent link
Especially moved about meeting with the Chians of America, Metropolitan Markos of Chios spoke with The National Herald, and thanked the Northern Chios Society of Pelineon- Agia Markella, with whom his pastoral ministry is connected.
“I thank the Chians who invited us, especially the Northern Chios Society of Pelineon- Agia Markella president and the members of the Board of Directors. I would like to say that there, in Spartounta, I presided over my first divine liturgy as a bishop at Christmas,” he said, adding the message of Orthodoxy’s strong role in preserving the morals and customs of the Omogeneia.
“We wanted to give the blessing of St. Markella as proof that religion is the most basic coherent link that has kept our family united from the years of Byzantium to our present day, all over the earth. To enable the tree to spread its branches so far and not be cracked off by the gusts of any wind, its roots must be deep. Our roots are our faith in Christ, the preservation of our national consciousness, our tradition, our language. Our presence here brings this message,” concluded Metropolitan Markos.