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Church

The Feast Day of St. Spyridon Celebrated with Archbishop Officiating

December 16, 2021

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, NY – With all brightness of the season, while observing the safety measures due to the pandemic, the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was celebrated with Artoklasia on December 12, in the historic Community of St Spyridon in honor of the saint’s and the community’s feast day, officiated by His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, along with the presiding priest of the community Fr George Kazoulis, Archdeacon Dionysios Papiris, Deacon Michael Giavris, and Deacon Sofronios Vomend.

Archbishop Elpidophoros referred to the Gospel of the day and the interpretation of the Parable of the Great Feast “that philosophers, fathers, clergy, fathers with deep theological education, could not describe the Holy Trinity so accurately: how can the Holy Trinity be a God and a Trinity? […] Simple truths, that if you have faith in God, you do not need any philosophy. […] God knows who will become a Saint […]. Today, the Gospel describes paradise […]. What will make us enter paradise is the invitation of God who calls us all. And we, to leave what else we have, to humble ourselves, to repent. We will not be able to become saints in the sense of sinlessness, but by hearing and accepting the invitation of the Lord.”

His Eminence referred to the restoration project at the St. Spyridon community, describing it as “a true miracle of faith and devotion” adding that “this community glorifies St. Spyridon and his miracles.”

“My dear Christians, today is a great day, a beautiful day, happy for all of us. We are again in our Church, St. Spyridon. The one that our fathers built so beautifully, but this church and you with your love and generosity, your faith, you renovated and gave to the Church and to the people of God such beauty and with such glory and with such dignity,” Archbishop Elpidophoros said.

Speaking to The National Herald, His Eminence expressed his wishes: “I wanted to express my great joy that a community like St. Spyridon, while in fact has lost most of its parishioners, has found a way to not only be sustained, but also to be an example to be imitated by other communities and to send the message to all that hope is never lost and when there is ingenuity, hard work, and love for the community, solutions are found and more solutions are found, but everyone is happy and the community is saved and the church is saved and our tradition is saved. Merry Christmas to all and may Saint Spyridon help us.”

The faithful attended the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy celebrating the feast day of St. Spyridon at the eponymous church in Washington Heights, NY. Photo: TNH/ Despina Afentouli

Fr. Kazoulis welcomed His Eminence: “On behalf of President Lydia Vagelos-Callimanis and the Parish Council members, President Eleni Jiavaras and the members of the Philoptochos Society, all the organizations, and all the faithful of the Lord, we welcome you to our community with immense love and deep respect… Your Eminence, […] we thank you from the bottom of our hearts that you blessed and enlightened us with your Hierarchical presence, especially the feast of our patron Saint Spyridon and for your paternal instructions. We wish that the gift-giving Lord, through the intercession of Saint Spyridon, give you health for many blessed and fruitful years… I humbly ask that you bless all the members and activities of our community in our efforts to spread the gospel message in this multicultural land. We wish you many years, Despota!”

His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros with presiding priest of the St. Spyridon community Fr. George Kazoulis, Presvytera Dimitra and their daughter. Photo: TNH/ Despina Afentouli

Referring to the historical community of St. Spyridon, Fr. Kazoulis said that “it continues to be maintained with the relentless effort and diligence of all the members of the parish council who deserve many congratulations. One of their worthy achievements is the preservation of the church, the iconostasis and the iconography, which today shines… Many congratulations are also due to the iconographer, Miltiadis Afentoulis, who is among us today, for his excellent and professional work. […] Our neighborhood here is called ‘the little Dominican Republic’ but for us it is ‘the little Constantinople.’ Our services reflect the long traditions of our Orthodoxy.”

For the Artoklasia, Fr. Georgios Kazoulis thanked the honorary president Nikos Bardis and the members of the Pankerkyraikos Association, president Avgerini Mouzakiti and the members of the Ereikousa Society, all the attendees, and wished “Saint Spyridon to always be a helper in their work.”

At the meal celebrating the feast day of St. Spyridon, left to right: Deacon Michael Gavris, Archdeacon Dionysios Papiris, Parish Council President Lydia Vagelos-Callimanis, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros, presiding priest of the community Fr. George Kazoulis, former president of the Philoptochos Elizabeth Katechis, Presvytera Dimitra and daughter AnnaMaria. Photo: TNH/ Despina Afentouli

Dr. Jerald Tsekas, a member of the Parish Council, announced the awarding of an honorary plaque to George Vlantis, for his many years of service to the Community of St. Spyridon. The plaque was presented by Archbishop Elpidophoros to Vlantis’ sons, Nikolaos and Christos, who represented their father and were thankful for the honor.

Parish Council President Lydia Vagelos-Callimanis spoke with TNH and wished everyone “a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

Among those present were the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Nikitas Drakotos, Stylianos Zervoudis, Dinos Rallis, and John Psaltos.

Lunch followed in the community event hall.

His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros during the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church. (Photo: TNH/ Despina Afentouli)

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