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Church

Archbishop Elpidophoros Celebrates the Feast Day of Zoodohos Peghe in the Bronx

BRONX, NY – The community of Zoodohos Peghe (The Mother of God of the Life-Giving Spring) celebrated its feast day in the Bronx in the presence of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros beginning with the Great Vespers service on April 28.

His Eminence presided along with Chancellor of the Archdiocesan District Fr. Elias Villis, presiding priest of the community Rev. Economos Vasilios Louros, Archimandrites Fr. Chrysostom Panos, Fr. Onye Kakeyah, Fr. Gedeon Varitimos, and Fr. Bartholomew Mercado, the Reverend Protopresbyters Fr. Peter Orfanakos, Fr. Nicholas Dassouras, Fr. Nicolas Kazarian, Fr. Paul Palesty, Fr. Christos Pappas, and the Reverend Presbyters Fr. John Paizis, Fr. Evangelos Evangelidis, Fr. Aristidis Garinis, Fr. Demetrios Balidis, and Fr. Elias Pappas. Also participating were chanters of the Byzantine choir under the direction of Efstratios Gatanas.

Archbishop Elpidophoros presided over the Great Vespers service celebrating the feast day of the community at Zoodohos Peghe in the Bronx on April 28. Photo: TNH/ Despina Afentouli

Addressing the faithful, His Eminence spoke about the feast which is honored by all of Orthodoxy, the importance of the celebration of the feast of Zoodohos Peghe on the Friday after Easter, as well as the significance of the name of Zoodohos Peghe: “Once again God wills us to celebrate here (in the Bronx) at the Zoodohos Peghe Church, the panegyri of the Virgin Mary, because Zoodohos Peghe is the Virgin Mary herself… The Feast of the Zoodohos Peghe originates from Constantinople where there is a spring where a miracle happened. The Virgin Mary appeared and since then Valoukli in Constantinople is called Zoodohos Peghe (Life-Giving Spring), because the Virgin Mary performed miracles there and the Holy Spirit healed the sick. The feast of the Virgin Mary of the Zoodohos Peghe was so popular and so beloved by everyone that nowadays it has spread throughout Orthodoxy, all over the world. In the old days people celebrated Easter throughout the East, Asia Minor, and then they would head to Constantinople and it was barely Friday by the time they arrived.”

His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and priests from various communities in the tri-state area participated in the celebration of the Great Vespers at Zoodohos Peghe in the Bronx on April 28. Photo: TNH/ Despina Afentouli

His Eminence continued, “Zoodohos means to receive life, because the Virgin Mary is the One who received life into herself, Christ, and She gave birth to the life of the world. Every woman is a fountain of life… But one life was given to us by the Virgin Mary, it is eternal life,” and added his best wishes to all for the holiday.

Speaking to TNH, His Eminence said: “It is very touching to see a 250 year old Constantinopolitan tradition continuing all over the world, and especially in the grounds of our Holy Archdiocese, in an area directly under the Direct Archdiocesan District, such as the Bronx, and to see the same faith in the people that one saw in the Orthodox Christians of Pontus, Cappadocia, and all of Asia Minor, who came as pilgrims to Panagia Valoukliotissa on such days, and you see in the eyes of our people here in America, the same faith, the same devotion, and the same hope and anticipation for the miracle of the Virgin Mary. Because exactly all the previous things I said are true, I feel here (at Zoodohos Peghe Church in the Bronx) as if I were in Constantinople, as if I were at home, as all Orthodox Christians feel at home when we are in any Orthodox Church in the world.”

Left to right: Presiding priest of the Zoodohos Peghe community Fr. Vasilios Louros, Presbytera Chrysoula Louros, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Irene Karounos, and Parish Council President Kosta Karounos. Photo: TNH/ Despina Afentouli

Fr. Louros of Zoodohos Peghe Church expressed his thanks for the presence of His Eminence: “The presence of His Eminence is an excellent honor and blessing for us and the uplifting of our souls on the holy feast of our parish, the celebration of the miraculous Zoodohos Peghe.”

He continued: “With the blessings of His Eminence, the Holy services will be preserved and treasured in our hearts in everlasting colors, embellished with the glory that befits the feast day of the Church of Christ… Thanks to His blessings, the Greek Orthodox community of the Zoodohos Peghe in the Bronx continues its divine work, as well as its generous philanthropic, educational, missionary, and cultural work.”

Fr. Louros made a detailed reference to the work of the Holy Archdiocese of America, noting that “never before do we recall such a mobilization of resources and talents in all these directions and for addressing the issues and the demands of the Church.” Expressing his blessing for many years to His Eminence, Fr. Louros invited him to bless the ordination of the lay readers Anastasios Argyros, Chris Argyros, Demetrios Casvikes, Dimitrios Dimitratos, Elias Germanakos, George Germanakos, Nicholas Germanakos, Michael Ieromonachos, Lucas Manouilidis, Spyros Michialis, Chris Orfanos, Christos Redi, and Dionisios Stylianesis.

A reception was held in the church hall celebrating the feast day of the Zoodohos Peghe community in the Bronx. Photo: TNH/ Despina Afentouli

Archbishop Elpidophoros blessed each reader individually and stated that Fr. Louros is “the right man in the right place,” makes everyone proud, validates the choice of the Archbishop who appointed him to this community, as well as “the hopes of the people and all the expectations of the whole Church.” He also urged him to continue his work, with the support of the Archdiocese, mentioning the love that the priests have surrounded him with in his “successful service.” At the same time, he invited all priests to set a good example and inspire the younger generation to follow the path of the priesthood, which, he said, remains eternal.

Finally, a reception was held with refreshments in the community hall, where Parish Council President Kosta (Dean) Karounos, invited the students Greek American Institute to present traditional Greek dances in honor of Archbishop Elpidophoros.

The students of the Greek American Institute performed Greek dances in traditional costume during the reception celebrating the feast day of the Zoodohos Peghe community in the Bronx. Photo: TNH/ Despina Afentouli
The faithful attended the Vespers service celebrating the Feast Day of the community at Zoodohos Peghe in the Bronx, including Archon Stylianos Zervoudis and Federation of Greek-American Educators President Stella Kokolis. Photo: TNH/ Despina Afentouli

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