ELIZABETH, NJ – On August 26, on the eve of the feast of St. Fanourios, the Great Vespers service with Artoklasia was held at the Church of St. Fanourios in Elizabeth, NJ, with many of the faithful present.
There were dozens of fanouropites which were brought in by the faithful for the annual blessing.
Presiding priest of the community Fr. Nicholas Pastrikos spoke to The National Herald and shared his best wishes to the Greek Diaspora with health and joy.
"Our church," he noted, "is the only one in the entire Archdiocese of America that bears the name of St. Fanourios.
“Today, faithful have come from all over New York and New Jersey, bringing with them the traditional custom of the fanouropita.
“St. Fanourios is a great finder of lost objects. It is this quality that created the particular custom to bring breads and sweets on the day of the feast which, after being blessed, are distributed to all those present.”
Parish Council President Konstantinos Zempiris thanked the faithful who attended the festivities and honored the church with their presence.
"Our parish, of course, like all the churches, is going through a difficult period due to the coronavirus pandemic. We were closed for quite a long time and today at the celebration we make sure that the attendance of the faithful is in accordance with the state rules for safety.
“I wish St. Fanourios to help everything go well and get people back to their daily lives," he said.
Philoptochos President Panagiota Tsoukaras noted that the association with 15 members always stands beside the Church of St. Fanourios with their great contributions and important humanitarian work in the wider area and wished health, joy and prosperity to the entire Greek community.
Presiding priest of St. Demetrios Church in Union, NJ, Fr. Peter Souritzidis, who participated in the Vespers service, wished for St. Fanourios to reveal to the faithful the path that leads to salvation.
Paulette Poulos, Executive Director of Leadership 100, expressed the special love and faith she has for St. Fanourios.
"Every year on his feast I have vowed to come here to worship and thank him for always being by my side. I have prayed to the Saint many times in difficult situations for me and my prayers are always heard," she said.
On August 27, the day of the feast, the Divine Liturgy was held with Artoclasia and more fanouropites.
Finally, it should be noted that the faithful observed all the measures to protect their health from the pandemic.