At the cutting of the Northern Chios Society of Pelineon Agia Markella vasilopita, the Board members, left to right: Dimitris Koutsouras, Dimitris A. Gonias, Kostas Skamalos, Lefteris Skamalos, Maria Skiriotis, Nikos Katsapis, Dimitris Moutafis, Irene Siderias, Sophia Siderias, Maria Koutsouras, Kostas Gonias, Jenny Katsigeorgis, Kostas Rallis, Giannis Gonias, Marianna Vougioukas, Giannis Moutafis, and Xanthippi Nakopoulou. Photo: TNH/ Despina Afentouli
BRONX, NY – In a festive atmosphere, the traditional cutting of the vasilopita was held by the Northern Chios Society of Pelineon Agia Markella in the community hall of Zoodohos Peghe Greek Orthodox Church in the Bronx on January 23. The Society’s members and non-members had the opportunity to meet for the traditional custom, while respecting the safety measures against the pandemic.
Presiding priest of the community Fr. Vasilios Louros spoke to The National Herald and wished everyone a “Happy New Year with health, joy, happiness and all the best from God” and expressed his joy that the Northern Chios Society of Pelineon Agia Markella held their cutting of the vasilopita for the first time at Zoodohos Peghe: “It is a great honor for me personally and for the parish, that we have the cutting of the vasilopita of the Pelineon Society, which includes all the northern villages of Chios and one of them is my village, Parparia… It is the first time that the society comes to Zoodohos Peghe and it gives me great joy, because it is my community and it is for me the first year [that I completed as presiding priest of the community]. It makes me happy, because I am a member of this association and I have the honor of being the priest for St. Markella in Upstate New York in the mountains.”
Referring to the multifaceted work of the society, Fr. Louros told TNH: “I am glad that this society exists, because it gives us opportunities to meet with all Chians and to exchange words of love, words of friendship, to get to know each other and, of course, it is also a baton, which they pass on in time to the young people. Because having the society for 72 years means that it is a whole life – that is, that there is continuity. We do not forget our place, we do not forget who we are, we do not forget why we are here, why we do these events. At the same time, this sacred tradition continues, which are our roots, our culture, our origin. And it’s nice to have that, to have the stamp of who you are. And this society has achieved: unity, love, harmony, and continuity.”
Northern Chios Society of Pelineon Agia Markella President Dimitris Moutafis also spoke to TNH, thanking the historic community of Zoodohos Peghe, Fr. Louros, the president and the members of the Parish Council, and all the members of the community for the hospitality. He referred to the Society’s annual vasilopita tradition: “It is the established event for 70 years for the Northern Chios Society of Pelineon Agia Markella. Every year the society cuts the vasilopita which represents the 25 villages of North Chios… For the last two years now, due to the pandemic, we have been forced to change locations… This year, we chose the parish of Zoodohos Peghe in the Bronx, since the community’s presiding priest happens to be from Chios and from our villages and is also the priest for St. Markella in Upstate New York, the chapel is a copy of the one in Volissos, Chios. In 2019, we had the honor of the presence of Metropolitan Markos of Chios, Psara and Oinousses, as well as two years in a row, our Archbishop Elpidophoros of America.”
It should be noted that earlier, at the end of the Divine Liturgy, the Artoklasia service was held. Moutafis told TNH that the society held the Artoklasia “for the health of everyone, members and non-members of the society,” and added: “I wish everyone a happy new year, love, health to all, members and non-members of the association, thank you for the support of all and for all these years that they supported us. We will be waiting for everyone at the spring picnic in May, as well as at the big dinner-dance in July at the Church of St. Markella.”
It should be noted that in the context of the cutting of the vasilopita, a treat was offered to the attendees, courtesy of Northern Chios Society of Pelineon Agia Markella and Mary Xykis.
Mobile vaccination unit outside the community of Zoodohos Peghe
On the same day, from 8 AM-12 PM, a mobile vaccination unit offering first, second, booster, and children’s doses was parked outside Zoodohos Peghe Church for anyone who wished to be vaccinated against COVID-19. It was an initiative implemented with the support of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and New York City Health + Hospitals.
Fr. Louros expressed through TNH thanks for the Archdiocese initiative sending a mobile unit to the community: “Our Holy Archdiocese has sent a medical vehicle, under the responsibility of the Archbishop, who cares for his flock and more – every person in the neighborhood of the community can come and be vaccinated against the coronavirus. The community and I thank His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros for his energy, and he is doing a great job.”
Mobile units were also available in New York at the Greek Orthodox communities of St. John the Baptist and St. Eleftherios (Manhattan), Holy Cross in Whitestone (Queens), and Saints Constantine and Helen Cathedral (Brooklyn).
PHILADELPHIA – The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley announced that the Evzones, the Presidential Guard of Greece will be participating in the Philadelphia Greek Independence Day Parade on March 20.
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