GREENLAWN, NY – St. Paraskevi Greek Orthodox Shrine Church held a celebratory luncheon on June 27 honoring and officially welcoming the presiding priest of the community Fr. John Vlahos and his family. The event which followed the Divine Liturgy was the first since the COVID restrictions have been lifted and finally allowed the community to celebrate all together though Fr. Vlahos has been presiding priest at St. Paraskevi for nine months, since last October.
Parish Council President Effie Carlucci spoke to The National Herald about the event, noting that it took a couple of weeks to organize, once the restrictions were lifted on indoor gatherings, “suddenly, we could have a celebration.”
She added that about 200 people RSVP’d for the event and “June was the perfect month so we could catch everyone before they left for summer vacation.”
Fr. Vlahos gave the opening prayer at the luncheon. Members of the Parish Council served the delicious meal which was graciously sponsored by Limani Estiatorio.
In her remarks at the event, Parish Council President Carlucci thanked everyone for attending, noting that it was “our first official meal as a spiritual family in over 15 months! On behalf of the Parish Council, let me just say that we are so thankful to be all together again.”
She continued: “This is our first opportunity to collectively welcome Father John, Presvytera Tina, Steli and Andriana, who have been with us for nine months already. While some of you knew Father John before he came to our parish, I did not. And while waiting to receive the official notification last September of which priest would be assigned to St. Paraskevi, I started to piece some clues together and had a hunch it might be Fr. John Vlahos, the priest from the Cathedral. So, I reached out to a parishioner who knows many priests and informed them of my hunch, and asked their opinion. I can still remember the excitement in their voice ‘Oh, he’s good… he’s really good.’ Well, that parishioner was spot on.”
“Beyond his inspiring sermons, his enthusiasm for our ministries, and his vision for the growth of our parish, I can tell you that Father John not only talks the talk, but he also walks the walk. He talks about love, kindness, forgiveness, humility, and that is what he exudes. He never says, ‘I did it’ but rather ‘we did it.’ If you compliment him on his sermon, he always responds with the same four words: ‘Glory be to God.’ He always makes time for everyone and greets them with a smile. And you can see how genuinely happy he is to finally be able to embrace parishioners.”
“Of course, with Presvytera Tina, we have an especially nice and highly active Presvytera, who likes to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty, literally, whether it’s planting flowers in our gardens, participating in our festival workshops, or cleaning platters in our kitchen. Presvytera, it is so great having you in our parish! Finally, I also want to welcome Father and Presvytera’s two beautiful daughters, Steli and Andriana, whom some of you with similar aged sons and daughters have gotten to know very well. Currently, Steli is in Connecticut preparing to be a counselor at Camp St. Paul.”
“This is an exciting time in our parish, we have many new families that have moved here from Queens and Nassau County. Under Father John’s leadership and guidance, we look forward to our parish’s continued growth and many beautiful things in our future!”
Fr. Vlahos then thanked everyone for attending and especially thanked the Parish Council members for organizing the event and for serving the meal. He noted that it shows the type of people they are, rather than sitting back, they chose to serve.
The community is also planning an event in honor of the renovation of the shrine closer to the July 26 Feast Day of their namesake saint, Parish Council President Carlucci told TNH, noting that the community is the only St. Paraskevi in the entire United States.