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Church

Christmas at the Dormition of the Virgin Mary in Southampton, New York

December 22, 2019

NEW YORK – The parish of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary in Southampton, New York will celebrate the incarnation of Christ by focusing on three very essential things as Fr. Constantine Lazarakis said in an interview with The National Herald: “The focus is on three areas during advent: worship, philanthropy, and fellowship. As advent begins in mid-November, the look of our Church begins to point toward the birth of our Savior. Wreaths and garlands are hung about the buildings; the icon of the Nativity takes its place on the proskinitarTree too appears in the narthex. Our Church has a number of events and programs for the Christmas Season.”

He also said that “at Christmas time, much of our teaching is aimed at helping our faithful focus on the true meaning of the season. So, in Greek School and Sunday School, our students prepare for our Christmas pageant, learning carols about the birth of Christ. Our sermons and annual Christmas letter are designed as a counterbalance to the message of materialism that has become the hallmark of the secular holiday season. We begin a number of philanthropic initiatives. The first is our Thanksgiving food drive. In cooperation with a local food pantry, we collect pantry items and grocery store gift cards to insure that those in need will be able to stock their pantries and purchase groceries during the cold months.”

Fr. Constantine added that, “we also begin our Giving Tree clothing and gift drive. The tree in our narthex is decorated with paper ornaments, each with an item printed on it. Members of our Church choose an ornament and purchase the item listed, returning it by a certain date. The gifts are distributed through The Retreat, a local agency offering services to families affected by domestic violence.”

He also noted that, “for Thanksgiving Day, we prepare a Thanksgiving feast open to anyone and everyone on the East End of Long Island. The feast is offered free of charge. The idea is that no one should be alone during the Holiday Season.”

Speaking about the Christmas Tree, Fr. Constantine said, “our PTO and Philoptochos offer a joint family event in our Tree Lighting. On the first Saturday of December, a local youth choir offers a Christmas Concert, followed by the lighting of the tree just outside the Sanctuary. Once the tree is lit, we come inside to a wonderful meal and gingerbread houses for the youth of our parish to decorate and take home.”

The parish consists of 250 families. Fr. Constantine said that “our Christmas Eve Divine Liturgy is well attended (in the evening), with men, women, and children of all ages. Members of our choir sing the Liturgy, while young men and boys assist the clergy in the Altar.”

Asked what kind of questions do the congregants and especially the young men and women bring up about the incarnation of Christ, Fr. Constantine said: “Deep theological questions are not commonly posed, although they do come up in our Bible study and catechism classes. At this time of the year, I think the faithful are more apt to pray and engage philanthropy than to ponder the mystery of the incarnation in intellectual and theological terms.”

For Fr. Constantine Lazarakis, “Christmas means that humanity is always loved by God and that He will never abandon us. God is with us.”

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