NASHUA, NH – The Church of St. Philip in Nashua, New Hampshire, the only parish in New England and in the entire country bearing the name of the Holy Apostle Philip, celebrated its Feast Day with Vespers and Artoklasia (blessing of loaves) services on November 13.
Fr. Gregorios Trakas from the Assumption parish in Manchester, NH, Fr. Alex Chetsas of St. Philip’s, Fr. Athanasios Chininis from the Transfiguration parish in Lowell, MA who served at St. Philip’s for seventeen years, Fr. Gregory Christakos from Sts. Anargyroi in Marlboro, MA, and Fr. Nicholas Apostola from the St. Nicholas Romanian Orthodox parish in Shrewsbury, MA – who was the homilist for the evening – also celebrated Vespers. Also present was Fr. Soterios Alexopoulos, retired, who served the parish diligently for 25 years.
Approximately 70 congregants participated in the service and the reception that followed at the community center. The President of the parish council is businessman Athanasios Liakos, who tries very hard to advance the parish and attract new members since many families, especially those who are Greek speaking, have left or are not involved in parish life.
In the beginning of the 2oth century the pioneer Greek immigrants had established two parishes in the city of Nashua, the Annunciation of the Theotokos and St. Nicholas, following the trend at the time of creating separate parishes for adherents of either the King of Greece or Prime Minister Venizelos. Unfortunately, the immigrants transferred the political divisions of their homeland to America. This, in many cases in the same city there were rival parishes a short distance from each other that sometimes had hostile relationships.
In 1972 the “miracle” happened and the two Nashua parishes were united. A new site was purchased and a new nave was built in St. Philip’s honor during the late Archbishop Iakovos’ archpastorship.
The first priest of the new united parish was Fr. Soterios Alexopoulos. During his years the parish flourished with at least six hundred families. The parish was vibrant, with a thriving Greek School directed by presvytera Eleni Alexopoulos, a graduate of St. Basil’s Academy, which used to prepare teachers for the Greek schools. Archbishop Iakovos closed that program in 1972.
Now the parish has about 220 ‘stewards’ with a beautiful nave crowned by a golden dome which is lit up at night is visible from Interstate 3 that goes to Boston and Manchester.
This year the parish revived the Greek School by hiring Maria Bouras, a teacher from the Day Greek School in Lowell, MA and teaches on Saturdays.