BROOKLYN – The Messinian Benevolent Association “Aristomenis” honored the feast of the Presentation of the Lord and Savior, the patron of Messinia and the association, at the Great Vespers for the feast, which was held on Thursday, Feb. 1 at Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn.
The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple is described in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:22–40). According to the Gospel, Mary and Joseph took the Infant Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem forty days after his birth to complete Mary’s ritual purification after childbirth, and to perform the redemption of the firstborn son.
When they brought Jesus into the temple, they encountered Simeon. The Gospel notes that Simeon had been promised that “he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:26). Simeon then uttered the prayer which prophesied the redemption of the world by Jesus, “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace; according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people: to be a light to lighten the gentiles and to be the glory of Thy people Israel” (Luke 2:29–32).
Simeon then prophesied to Mary: “Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which is spoken against. Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34–35).
The elderly prophetess Anna, also in the Temple at the time, offered prayers and praise to God for Jesus, and spoke to everyone there of His importance to redemption in Jerusalem (Luke 2:36–38).
George Masouridis, the newly elected president of the Messinian Association, thanked those who attended the celebration and expressed his wish to meet expectations and to be worthy of his duties.
“It’s the first time,” he said, “since the creation of the club in 1935 that a Messinian born here in America, like me, was elected president. All previous presidents were immigrants from Greece.
“I was born and raised in Brooklyn in the community of Saints Constantine and Helen, where I was an altar boy all my childhood. I graduated from the Argyrios Fantis Parochial school and now serve the Port Authority Police.
The Messinian Association Aristomenis celebrates the Presentation of the Lord at Saints Constantine and Helen Cathedral in Brooklyn. Photo by Michalis Kakias
“Together with my parents, we participated in all the events of the Messinian Association and now that I serve as president, I feel great honor and responsibility at the same time. Our goal is to further develop the association through the many programs and activities we aim to implement.”
Kostas Doufas, a treasurer and member of the association since 1997, said that it is a duty of all to preserve and spread the customs, traditions, and heritage of the homeland to the new generations. “We are proud,” he noted, “proud of our privately owned building at 25-35 Astoria Boulevard where all of our programs are housed, including the 40-person dance group, the youth division, and many more.”
Maria Kyrkou, Messinian youth president, said that there are 30 members in the program, aged between 18 and 30, most of whom, she said, are immigrants and students from Messinia. “We are organizing,” she said, “music nights, cinema, dances, discussions, and other events, our goal is not just to have a good time but to support and help each other.”
Tasos Kokaliaris, a former president and member since 1960, said the first association was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1917. “Later,” he said, “when the Messenians began moving from Atlanta to New York, they founded this association in 1935, giving it the name of the ancient king Aristomenis. Since then, the association has operated continuously contributing great social and charitable efforts.”
Christos Kargas, a member of the association since 1966 and a former president, pointed out that the Aristomenis association is one of the most active associations in the Greek community and expressed his optimism for the future as, as he said, the young generation that has taken over has vision, ideas, and an appetite for work and contributing to the association and the community.