NEW BEDFORD, MA – The passing of The Very Reverend Archimandrite Constantine Spyridon Bebis, beloved pastor of Saint George Greek Orthodox Church, 94, of New Bedford, Massachusetts on March 9 due to natural causes was announced to the Community with great sorrow.
Born on the island of Crete, Greece, Father Bebis survived the Nazi occupation of Greece during World War II, during which his widowed mother and two siblings lived in Piraeus, Greece.
He survived many trials and tribulations such as starvation and the bombing of Athens during the Nazi occupation with the help of his deep faith. In church, he was selected to receive the ‘Jesus Plate’ daily, this charity literally saved his life. Knowing Americans and Allied Forces would save the Greeks, he learned to speak fluent English by giving a portion of his bread to an English teacher.
When given an opportunity by his high school theology teacher to become a priest in America, he ‘raised’ his hand to volunteer. After enduring storms and his boat sinking off the coast of Marseilles, France, he was saved by a French destroyer and he finally arrived in Baltimore, Maryland on an American Victory Ship. He entered the Greek Archdiocese’s Holy Cross Orthodox Theological School in Brookline, Massachusetts graduating with a Bachelor of Divinity degree. He furthered his studies and earned a Master of Divinity from Boston University. He also earned a doctorate certificate of Divinity from Harvard University.
He was ordained into the priesthood in 1955 and became a Greek Orthodox priest in Danbury, Connecticut then moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1953. He was the priest and spiritual leader of the Greater New Bedford Greek Orthodox community for nearly 60 years. He also faithfully guided the efforts to build a new church on Cross Road in Dartmouth, Massachusetts 2011.
Father Bebis was an active member of the Greater New Bedford Inter-Church Council, New Bedford Library Trustee, Spiritual Leader of the Annual Blessing of the Fleet, Founder and former president of the anti-poverty agency of the North End (Agnes Braz/Hope Bean) Community Center, President of the On-Board Legal Services for the Poor, Spiritual advisor to the Greek Orthodox Youth of America and the Ladies Philoptochos Society of St. George Greek Orthodox Church, President of the Greek Orthodox Priest Brotherhood, and an advocate for social justice, literacy, and learning, and numerous other philanthropic, community, and charitable works.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate awarded him the title of Protopresbyter, highest rank of a married priest in the Greek Orthodox Church in 1976.
He was presented an award by the Tifereth Israel Synagogue in 1990 for his “devoted efforts in the cause of brotherhood and understanding in our community.”
For his 50 years of dedicated service in the Greater New Bedford area, an oil portrait by artist Deborah Macy is on display at the New Bedford Free Public Library, and a memorial bench at Bristol Community College in Fall River pays tribute to his contributions to his parish and community. In 2003, Metropolitan Methodios of Boston conferred on Father Bebis the ancient office of Archimandrite, a highly respected liturgical position. He was also awarded Dartmouth Man of the year in 2011 and many other numerous rewards and recognitions.
Father Bebis was a devoted and loving father, grandfather, and great grandfather who was extremely proud of his family. He was predeceased by his wife, Presvytera Irene H. (Vouros) Bebis, his sister Stella Dalley from Australia, and his mother Olga Bebis. Survivors include his beloved twin brother, Dr. George S. Bebis, professor, of Dartmouth; three sons, Stephen Bebis and wife, Michele, of Weston, Massachusetts; George C. Bebis and his wife, Constance Lee of Lakeville; and the Reverend Paul C. Bebis and his wife, Theresa of Lancaster, Massachusetts; his daughter, Constance Olga Bebis of New Bedford; and grandchildren, Stephanie, Kathryn, Dean, Michael, Barbara, Alaina, Rebecca, Alexander, Joshua, Irina, and Julian, 13 great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
The wake was held on Monday, March 15th at Saint George Greek Orthodox Church 186 Cross Road, Dartmouth, Massachusetts. On Tuesday, March 16th the funeral service was private. In lieu of flowers, please make your donations to the Bebis Memorial Trust Fund c/o St. George Greek Orthodox Church, P.O. Box 79411 Dartmouth, Massachusetts 02747.