Elpidophoros Dismissed Parish Council Members of St. Paul’s (Hempstead)

BOSTON – Archbishop Elpidophoros, through Chancellor of the Direct Archdiocesan District of New York Fr. Elias Villis intervened in the parish of the Cathedral of St. Paul of Hempstead, NY, dismissing fourteen members of the Parish Council. He used as an excuse that Fr. Villis discovered violations of the Uniform Parish Regulations in the composition of the Council.

It is noted that Fr. Villis in this case acted the same way he did a few days ago regarding the Cathedral of St. Demetrios of Astoria, communicating by means of an email to inform the priest, Fr. Christopher Constantinides, and Parish Council President Carol DePietto about the dismissal of certain Parish Council members.

Telephone messages of The National Herald on Fr. Constantinides’ voice mail as well as with the secretary of the parish remain unanswered.

The Great Vespers and Artoklasia at the Cathedral of St. Paul in Hempstead, NY, on June 28 were presided over by Archbishop Elpidophoros. Left to right: Fr. George Kazoulis, Fr. Chrysostom Panos, Fr. Elias Villis, Archbishop Elpidophoros, Fr. Christopher Constantinides, Fr. Agapitos Chunov, Fr. Gedeon Varytimos, Fr. Paul Palesty, and Fr. Panteleimon Papadopoulos. (Photo: TNH/ Despina Afentouli)

The issue at St. Paul’s was the following: For decades – since the time of the late Archbishop Iakovos – it was the policy of the Cathedral of Saint Paul that all past presidents of the Parish Council were permitted to serve on the Parish Council for life. This practice was and is in violation of the Uniform Parish Regulations, which means that this decision of Archbishop Elpidophoros executed by Fr. Villis is not unfounded, but it raises many questions and issues regarding the way it was done because it has caused great disappointment among the dismissed former presidents and to their families, who have served the parish voluntarily and constructively for many years.

The National Herald has learned that many members of the families of the past presidents have stopped attending Saint Paul’s and are reportedly ‘fed up’ with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese as it is now. Some of those past presidents have conveyed to TNH that they ‘see’ what is going on and are ready to fight back against what they perceive as corruption.

The National Herald has also learned that the Archbishop has not been personally dealing with the issue of this large and major historic parish; rather he assigned Fr. Villis to take care of the matter.

The Archbishop has visited the parish in the past for vespers and ‘artoklasia’ services.

The current presiding priest, Fr. Christopher Constantinides, has been serving at the community of St. Paul for six years. He is the father of Fr. Evagoras Constantinides presiding priest of Sts. Constantine and Helen in Brooklyn, NY and spokesman of the Archdiocese. Fr. Evagoras had also served as the director of the Ionian Village in Greece for a number of years. A few months ago Fr. Elias Pappas, whose godfather is Archbishop Elpidophoros, was appointed as an assistant priest at St. Paul’s after serving briefly as an assistant priest at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.

At the St. Paul Community Hall in Hempstead, NY, Archbishop Elpidophoros, Fr. Christopher Constantinides, Parish Council President Frances Tsigonias Lutfy and members of the Parish Council, including Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. (Photo: TNH/ Despina Afentouli)

In the e-mail dated May 2, 2023 to Fr. Constantinides and Parish Council President Carol DePietto, Fr. Villis wrote among other things that:

“I write at the direction of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros in my capacity as Chancellor of the Archdiocesan District. As part of my duties, I regularly review the local by-laws of our individual parishes to confirm that they are consistent with the Uniform Parish Regulations (UPR), as required by Article 21 of the UPR. In connection with that review insofar as your parish is concerned, it appears that Section III of the by-laws for the parish of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Paul, Hempstead New York (“St. Paul By-laws”) is wholly inconsistent with the analogous provisions of the UPR. The UPR requires that every parish council member must be elected every three years at a minimum. The St. Paul By-laws, however, have three categories of parish council members which are not elected positions. These categories are inconsistent with the UPR and they must be removed as parish council members, effective immediately.”

Fr. Villis concluded his e-mail saying “please let me know if you have any questions or would like to discuss further.

Conveying to you the blessings of our Beloved Archbishop, I remain,

Faithfully yours in the light of the Resurrection,

Rev. Protopresbyter Elias G. Villis




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