ASTORIA – Hundreds of members of the Greek-American community of Astoria and other areas of the New York Metropolitan area, as well as from Boston and Maryland and other U.S. states participated in the procession of the miraculous icon of St. Irene Chrysovalantou, which took place on July 30 after the Divine Liturgy was performed in the Church of St. Irene Chrysovalantou.
The annual procession is held on the Sunday closest to the feast day of Saint Irene and is the highlight event for the Patriarchal Monastery of St. Irene, with Greeks from various parts of the United States attending each year to pray and venerate the icon of the Saint for their own health and for that of their loved ones.
The National Herald covered the religious events at the church which began on Wednesday night with Vespers and were completed on Sunday with the procession.
The monastery belongs to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the message of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was delivered by the Metropolitan of Adrianople, Amphilochios, who presided over the ceremonies that were celebrated from Friday morning until Sunday.
This year’s celebrations, some of the most well-attended in recent years, were the first after the enthronement at the Patriarchal Monastery of Ierotheos as Bishop of Efkarpia.
Also attending the celebration was the Consul of Greece in New York, Manos Koubarakis, who also conveyed the best wishes of the Consul General in New York, Konstantinos Koutras.
The St. Irene’s Greek Festival was also held from Thursday through Sunday night with the Greek community and other Astorians enjoying Greek hospitality, foods, music and dancing. Many attendees noted the fantastic loukoumades that are a festival favorite every year.
Dr. Spiros Katsifis, member of the Parish Council of the Monastery spoke with The National Herald, noted the excellent attendance of the faithful at the religious ceremonies, as well as the reverence with which they participated in the Divine Liturgy and the procession.
At the same time, he pointed out that many expatriates had arrived by buses from Baltimore, Boston, and other areas, and lit candles for their relatives who could not attend the feast.
When asked about the success of the festival, he noted that it was one of the best in recent years and attributed the success to the tremendous self-sacrifice with which the volunteers and members of the community worked.
The festival, as Dr. Katsifis told TNH is one of the main sources of income to cover the educational, cultural, and charitable projects of the Patriarchal Monastery of St. Eirene Chrysovalantou.
Michalis Bournias, former president of the Northern Chios Society Pelineon Agia Markella, who volunteers at the festival every year, pointed out that this year had a great turnout of people on Saturday and Sunday.