NAPLES, FL – Very Reverend Archimandrite Anastasios Constantine Blougouras has fallen asleep in the Lord. He was born May 1st, 1932, in Dover, New Hampshire. Known to many as Father Ernest, he was the youngest of the seven children of Constantine and Diamando Blougouras. His father was from the town of Menia, in Messinia, Greece and married Diamando Politis who was from Messina’s village of Methoni. They married in Greece and immigrated to the United States in 1911, settling in Dover where Mr. Blougouras became a construction worker.
Father Ernest graduated from Dover High School in 1950. He played the French horn in the high school band, was on the student council, the cross-country running team, and a member of the debating team and the National Honor Society. He was active in the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Dover and received his calling to be a priest while still in high school and was encouraged in this by two priests who served the Dover parish, Fr. Nicholas Hatzivasiliou and Fr. Paraskevas Theophrastou.
Determined to devote his life to the service of the Holy Orthodox Church, Ernest Blougouras entered the Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts in the autumn of 1950 and graduated with the class of 1956. After attaining the Bachelor of Theology degree he went to Greece. He had received a scholarship to the University of Athens and three years later was awarded a Master of Sacred Theology degree from that university. While in Athens he lived at the Theological Center of the Church of Greece but also traveled throughout the lands and cities where orthodox Christianity was nurtured – Mt. Athos, Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Mt. Sinai, Beirut, and Cairo. He went to Constantinople and received the blessing of His Holiness Athenagoras, then the Ecumenical Patriarch.
Returning to the United States in 1959, he was ordained on November 19, 1959 to the Diaconate, and the Holy Priesthood on November 29, 1959 by Bishop Athenegoras of Boston (later Archbishop of London). The ordination was at the church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary in Somerville.
Two days after his ordination, Father Ernest was on duty at his first parish, the newly established church of St. Demetrios in Newton Lower Falls, Massachusetts, the first regular priest there. After two years he was transferred to Holy Trinity Church in Grand Island, Nebraska for two years. This was a considerable change, from a compact parish in the populous east to a far-flung prairie community. In the fall of 1963, he became pastor of the Assumption parish in Flint, Michigan in time to help complete its building project. During his time there he was also Vice President of the Legal Aid Society in 1964 and a member of the Flint Council of Churches.
On September 15, 1967, he went to the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Detroit at a precarious time in its history. The old church buildings on Macomb Street had been taken by the city, the new cathedral was a hole in the ground where a basement was being dug and the parish was financially insolvent. It was a bleak beginning, but there was hope and there was courage. There was prayer, diligence, and hard work. Above all there was the Grace of God, so that the community survived, and the cathedral was finally completed. A kind of unwritten understanding grew between Father Ernest and the parish: he would help the community through the lean years, and he would stay to enjoy the better times.
Οn August 17th, 1988, he went to the Cathedral of St. John the Theologian in Tenafly, New Jersey. His talents for building churches and helping communities through their precarious times would not go to waste. He put his skills as a parish priest to work one more time in seeing this parish through the endeavor to erect its cultural center.