United States

James and Betty Zafiros Honored at Holy Trinity New Rochelle 95th Anniversary Gala

November 21, 2023

NEW ROCHELLE, NY – Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church of New Rochelle hosted its 95th Annual Anniversary Gala, honoring Archon James and Betty Zafiros for their over 40 years of service to the community, on November 19 at the impressive Glen Island Harbour Club in New Rochelle.

The event began with welcoming remarks by co-chairs of the Gala Helen Morik and Dino Yotides, thanking everyone for attending and for their support. Referring to the sponsors program, Yotides noted that “this year, with the efforts of Tony Soukas and Fr. Nick [Anctil]… we reached over $101,000.”

The opening prayer was led by His Grace Bishop Athenagoras of Nazianzos and Holy Trinity’s Assistant Priest, Fr. Demetrios Balidis.

Members of the AHEPA Family from various chapters posed for a commemorative photo with the honorees, longtime Ahepan James Zafiros and his wife Betty, at the Holy Trinity 95th Anniversary Gala on November 19. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

Parish Council President George Kondos then shared his greetings, “on behalf of the Parish Council I would like to thank all of you for coming today and supporting us, I would also like to thank the committee that put this glorious Gala together… Holy Trinity has had a wonderful year, we bought a property to expand the land that we have, we’ve had a pretty good festival and thank God that we also have two very good priests, Fr. Nick and Fr. Demetri… Ninety-five years ago a group of immigrants came to this country, most of them only had the clothes on their backs, but they had the courage and fortitude to know that they needed to do something more than just survive here, they got together, they signed the lease, and they started Holy Trinity, back then we were in Mount Vernon, eventually moving to where we are now, without those ancestors we wouldn’t be here right now, so I would like to make a toast… to our ancestors, may their memories be eternal.”

Holy Trinity’s presiding priest Fr. Nicholas Anctil then gave his remarks, thanking everyone for attending, and noting that there were five tables of guests of the Zafiros family who traveled to be there for the event. “I looked around the room tonight and said to myself, we don’t look so bad for 95 years old… being 95 comes with great responsibility as well as an honest reality,” Fr. Anctil said, recalling the parish’s history, from the early 1920s, to its incorporation in 1928 in Mount Vernon, and moving three times before establishing itself in New Rochelle.

Honorees Betty and James Zafiros flank His Grace Bishop Athenagoras of Nazianzos at the Holy Trinity New Rochelle community’s 95th anniversary gala on November 19. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)
The Holy Trinity New Rochelle community’s 95th Anniversary Gala co-chairs Dino Yotides and Helen Morik. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

Fr. Anctil continued: “I am grateful to all of you this evening, for believing in the mission of church, especially tonight through your support of the program of sponsors… Our future looks bright as we look forward and upwards for guidance to get to our 100th anniversary.”

“Tonight, it is fitting that we honor a couple who have dedicated their time, talents and treasures to our community of faith for so many decades, Archon James and Betty Zafiros,” Fr. Anctil said. “They’re involvement at Holy Trinity Church, often in front of the camera, or behind the scenes, has benefitted the parish’s ability to bring God’s message to His people… being chairperson of anniversary galas as James was so many times or donating hundreds and hundreds of flower arrangements over the decades as Betty has, to better our parish, we see in their eyes, but we witness it in their hearts, the willingness to share their talents with us all making our lives that much more joyful at Holy Trinity. We call it Holy Trinity New Rochelle but James has coined the phrase ‘America’s parish.’”

“This year Holy Trinity honors two overachievers who have worked diligently for all the years that I can remember to make sure everything they have touched turns into something amazing, James with his ABC and subsequently NBC background and marketing talent in the broadcasting world, chairman of many anniversary galas, and Betty taking flowers and turning them into arrangements that oftentimes take our breath away, as tonight’s made by Betty’s nieces.”

Left to right: Kelly Anastos, Ernie Anastos, His Grace Bishop Athenagoras of Nazianzos, and the honorees, James Zafiros and his wife, Betty. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

“Tonight, we honor them and their three children and six grandchildren who are in the room this evening with the 2023 Trinity Award, perhaps a lifetime achievement award, but certainly an award that allows us to say thank you for all they have done,” Fr. Anctil said.

The 2023 Trinity Award presentation to Archon James and Betty Zafiros followed with Fr. Anctil reading the inscription: “Trinity Award for excellence and dedication to our parish for decades of service, a lifetime of service to our community, congratulations.”

A gift was also presented to Betty Zafiros from the Gala Committee and the parish.

His Grace Bishop Athenagoras said: “Today, it is an honor to represent His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros at this beautiful event to say thank you and honor Betty and Jimmy Zafiros… because of you, Betty and Jimmy, and because of all of you and many others, this parish is alive and represents the body of Christ, may Christ bless you, give you prosperity and health, and a lot of joy, peace, and love in your lives.”

Left to right: Betty Zafiros, James Zafiros, Fr. Demetrios Balidis, His Grace Bishop Athenagoras of Nazianzos, Holy Trinity Parish Council President George Kondos, and presiding priest of the community Fr. Nicholas Anctil. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

Betty Zafiros, visibly moved, then gave her remarks, noting that “it is our honor to have with us this evening Bishop Athenagoras… we thank God for all the blessings He has given us, thank you to my wonderful husband James for 36 years of your love, thank you again to James and to our beautiful daughter Vicki for helping to save my life two and a half years ago after an unfortunate accident, I had only one hour to live, thank you… on behalf of James and myself and myself, thank you to our children, our grandchildren, to our siblings, to all of you here tonight, for those who cannot be with us, to our family and friends in heaven, thank you to all our sponsors, to the leaders of our church thank you, to reverend clergy and presvyteres thank you for your love and support, a huge thank you to America’s parish builders, Fr. Nick and our beautiful Presvytera Cindy. With much love and gratitude to our lovely, beautiful Presvytera Kay Kyriakos… and our beloved Fr. Peter [Kyriakos] for your love and support all these years.”

Following his wife’s remarks, honoree James Zafiros noted that “that’s a very hard act to follow, not only here, but at home as well,” and then shared a quote “which says ‘women are powerhouses of love, compassion and friendship and prove their worth in every walk of life, nothing can replace the value of having a wife as your best friend,’ I suppose I am a very lucky guy because Betty is beyond my wife, she’s my best friend.”

Zafiros continued: “She has an enormous capacity for love, and an even greater capacity for courage and innovation, dealing with the various challenges of life that frequently define who we are, today. She is being honored because she has been alongside of me for all the Holy Trinity events I have been fortunate to be a part of, and there have been some big ones… the 75th and the 80th [anniversary galas], those two will remain the largest, until the 100th comes along in five years. This is also a special moment for me to thank her for being who she is, my partner, alongside of me every second, every minute of every day, every month and every year since we met.”

Members of the event organizing committee joined the honorees Betty and James Zafiros, Parish Council President George Kondos, the community’s clergy, and His Grace Bishop Athenagoras of Nazianzos for a commemorative photo at the Holy Trinity 95th Anniversary Gala. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

“Moreover, while Betty and I are grateful and humbled for this once-in-a-lifetime honor, we are thankful to Fr. Nick and to the Board of Trustees for selecting us as this year’s honorees,” Zafiros said. “However, folks, today is not about Betty and I, it’s a celebration of 95 years of enormous and proud history, it’s about those who came before us, it’s about you and you and you, and those who will come tomorrow to follow in our footsteps. I must say that Betty and I have visited numerous churches across our great nation and have participated in numerous Greek Orthodox services and celebrations all of which are truly magnificent, but each time we come back, we come back to our home, Holy Trinity, there is no greater feeling joining all of you this evening as we celebrate this remarkable moment, if my arms were long enough I would reach out and hug all of you, including the enormous cheering section for family, grandchildren, members of Holy Trinity and friends and brother Ahepans who have come from Albany, New York City, Yonkers, thank you for coming… You are our inspiration and without your everyday love and support none of this would happen tonight… thank you to the committee who have built this up and made this very special evening for Betty and I.”

Nick Katsoris, Ernie Anastos and his wife Kelly were among those dancing at the Holy Trinity 95th Anniversary Gala on November 19. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)
Honorees Betty and James Zafiros danced as their granddaughter Victoria Dennis sang at Holy Trinity New Rochelle’s 95th Anniversary Gala. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

The event included a special moment as James and Betty Zafiros’ granddaughter, singer Victoria Dennis performed Can’t Help Falling in Love, while the couple danced to the moving ballad.

The event also featured Bounce Music and Entertainment with Dean Vali and dancing well into the night. A basket raffle was also held with an impressive array of prizes including a signed Trevor Zegras jersey, a large-screen TV, Apple AirPods, and a trip to Vermont.

More information about Holy Trinity New Rochelle is available online: https://www.holytrinitynr.org.



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