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Annunciation of Brockton, MA: On the Way to Progress

BOSTON – Fr. Romanos Karanos, the presiding priest of the Annunciation parish in Brockton, MA, and also a professor of ecclesiastical music at the Holy Cross School of Theology, and Nicholas Babanikas, the president of the Parish Council, spoke to The National Herald about their historic parish’s future and the path to success.

Fr. Romanos, who has been pastoring the parish for almost a year, expressed his enthusiasm for the new year, saying, “Our church’s various ministry volunteers are working tirelessly, the Ladies Philoptochos Society is providing significant philanthropic services, and our youth are reconnecting with the community after the pandemic-induced ‘hiatus.'”

“Our highly successful September festival has contributed to our already robust financial condition. Additionally, the church’s iconography will be completed within a few months. I’m pleased to see more congregants attending Sunday services and participating in the sacraments and weekly Bible study sessions. To further enhance our parishioners’ spiritual lives, we plan to organize pilgrimages throughout the country and Holy Land.”

Fr. Romanos distributes the Holy Light of the Resurrection chanting “come receive the light.” (Photo provided by the Brockton parish)

Babanikas stated that, “Our community used to have over 600 families. Due to demographic changes, an increase in mixed marriages, and the pandemic, we now have around 350 families. Despite this, the Annunciation parish remains a dynamic and well-organized community with various activities and ministries for both members and the wider Brockton population.”

On the topic of the parish’s finances, Babanikas noted, “As Fr. Romanos mentioned earlier, our financial situation is healthy. In the last seven years, our generous parishioners have donated over $750,000 for church renovations and beautification, and $550,000 for the iconography project. We suggest $600 for families and $300 for individuals for stewardship amounts. However, even a parishioner with limited financial capabilities can contribute the ‘two copper coins of the widow,’ which the Gospel tells us has greater value.”

(Photo provided by the Brockton parish)

When we asked Fr. Romanos about the questions he receives regarding the Orthodox faith and the Church, especially from the youth, he said, “We live in an age of spiritual confusion. Social media promotes instant gratification of individual needs and desires and ‘cancels’ those with different values and beliefs. This goes against the Gospel’s role model, which emphasizes sacrificing individual desires for the sake of others, in line with Christ’s divine example. The existential agony of young adults can be summed up in one question: ‘Who is Christ, after all?’ The genuine answer can only be found in the Orthodox Church.”

Babanikas commented on the Greek and Sunday Schools and other programs of the parish, stating that “our Greek School presently has 14 students, and our Sunday School has around 55 students. Our youth groups are highly active, with numerous children participating in GOYA, Hope, and Joy, serving in the altar, dance groups, and basketball team. Our choir and chanters present exquisite chanting in our music ministry, and we have a lively OPA ministry for our seniors. Although we are still feeling the pandemic’s negative effects in this area of our community’s life, we are making significant efforts to increase these numbers, especially to strengthen the bond of our children with the church.”

The dance group ‘Tradition’ of the Annunciation parish of Brockton, MA. (Photo provided by the Brockton parish)

When asked about the greatest challenge facing the community, Fr. Romanos replied, “In my estimation, the greatest challenge for all the communities of our Archdiocese is cultivating a liturgical ethos. For our ancestors, the church was the beginning, center, and end of every activity and aspect of life. Today, the average Greek Orthodox American has relegated the church to a neglected corner of their life or views it primarily as an ethnic or social club. We have a tremendous responsibility as priests to re-evangelize our people and remind them that in our churches, especially in the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, they will find the Truth and Life. Another significant challenge is opening up to non-Greek Americans. We must proclaim everywhere that while we are proud of our ethnic and cultural heritage, we are not a closed club. We are the Church of Christ, in which there is neither Jew nor Greek.”

When we asked him about the priesthood, he replied, “The late Metropolitan Dionysios of Servia used to say that every time a priest serves the Divine Liturgy, he is judged, but the people are saved. St. Paul expresses the meaning of the priesthood when he writes: ‘I wish I could be condemned and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren.’ A friend of mine, who is also a priest, summed it up well when he warned me a few days before my ordination: ‘Be careful because God will give you an altar and a knife. With this knife, you can either sacrifice others so that you may live, or sacrifice yourself so that the world may live.’ The priesthood is about self-sacrifice so that the world may live.”

The parish at the Greek Independece parade in Boston. (Photo provided by the Brockton parish)
Fr. Romanos Karanos with children of the parish at a Red Sox game in Boston. (Photo provided by the Brockton parish)
Fr. Romanos Karanos with president of the Parish Council Nicholas Babanikas at the Greek Festival. (Photo provided by the Brockton parish)


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