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St. Thomas Church in Cherry Hill, NJ, Celebrates 55th Anniversary (Photos)

November 14, 2022

VOORHEES, NJ – The Saint Thomas Greek Orthodox Church of Cherry Hill, NJ, celebrated its 55th anniversary with a Gala on November 11 at The Mansion in Voorhees, NJ. The Gala also served as a fundraiser to kick off the church’s ‘For The Ages’ iconography project as the facility, food, and drink was most graciously donated by the Baroody and Kolovos families, both of whom are members of the Saint Thomas Church community.

St. Thomas Church opened its doors in 1967. The original church members attended services at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in downtown Philadelphia. Today, this community is by far the largest in the Delaware Valley, serving three counties in South Jersey as well as many from the City of Brotherly Love.

Parish Council President George G. Horiates, Esq. thanked the Baroody and Kolovos families and noted that the 55th anniversary is the emerald anniversary. “These families, by their love of our community and their sacrifice, they are our emeralds,” said Horiates. Both families came forward for presentations of large icons for the occasion and were greeted with a standing ovation from the community.

Community members at the Saint Thomas Greek Orthodox Church of Cherry Hill, NJ, 55th Anniversary Gala. (Photo by Steve Lambrou)

The Hellenic Heritage Dancers at the Saint Thomas Greek Orthodox Church of Cherry Hill, NJ, 55th Anniversary Gala. (Photo by Steve Lambrou)

In his remarks, St. Thomas’ Archimandrite Fr. Avgoustinos Psomas focused on his first year as presiding priest at the church, thanking the parishioners, and sharing his hopes and dreams for its future.

Chancellor of the Metropolis of New Jersey, the Archimandrite Fr. Christoforos Oikonomidis spoke movingly about his relationship with St. Thomas Church, the first church he was appointed to in the United States, its history, his role in the most recent dome project, and how the community is like a family. He also shared his joyous experiences at St. Thomas.

Community members at the Saint Thomas Greek Orthodox Church of Cherry Hill, NJ, 55th Anniversary Gala. (Photo by Steve Lambrou)

“What makes the community unique is that it rarely has rested on its laurels,” said Charles Sandilos, Esq., co-chair of the event. His fellow co-chair, Stavros Antonakakis, remarked that “from its beginnings the original pioneers made the American Hellenic Orthodox Center in Camden, a building housing AHEPA and its Greek School for 50 years, sold that property making it possible to open the doors to the present day St. Thomas Church built in 1967, and opened the now-named Danielle Kousoulis Cultural Center attached to the church in 1977, opened the John Balis Educational Building in 2006 which houses the largest Greek school in the Metropolis of New Jersey, and opened its St. Thomas Senior Housing Center in 2016.”

The Baroody and Kolovos families at the Saint Thomas Greek Orthodox Church of Cherry Hill, NJ, 55th Anniversary Gala with Fr. Avgoustinos Psomas, Bishop Apostolos of Medeia, Metropolis of New Jersey Chancellor Fr. Christoforos Oikonomidis, and George Horiates. (Photo by Steve Lambrou)

Tassos Efstratiades, Esq., Parish Council Vice President, noted that “the community entered a new phase in 2017 with the completion of a Byzantine-appropriate facade and recently completed a dome and belltower converting the original to celebrate our faith, heritage, and culture. Thus this 55th anniversary [gala] and its proceeds marks the unveiling of the iconography project ‘For The Ages’ which will define this great community in the future.”

Left to right: George Horiates, Lisa Horiates, Michelle Karadonis, and Stathis Karadonis at the Saint Thomas Greek Orthodox Church of Cherry Hill, NJ, 55th Anniversary Gala. (Photo by Steve Lambrou)

The most impressive remarks of the evening were those of His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medeia, whose address centered on the faith of the community and its members. His Grace cited the Baroody and Kolovos families as examples of this faith, which is the indispensable ingredient of the success of St. Thomas Church over the years. Indeed, he declared, it is the faith of all its parishioners that has led and will guide St. Thomas to greater heights. He expressed his profound appreciation to all of the evening’s sponsors, including those who gave selflessly in raising funds and called upon them to do even more for this shining beacon and extension of The Great Church of Christ.

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