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Annunciation Church Celebrates 125 Years of Unity & Faith
Archbishop Demetrios is Honored for his 50 Hierarchical Years
by Chris Salboudis
Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America, was honored for his 50 years of dedicated service as a theologian, an internationally-renowned biblical scholar and the leader of the Greek Orthodox community here in the US. The momentous occasion of his Golden Jubilee was the focal point of Annunciation Church’s 125th Anniversary Gala, another landmark occasion for the Greek American community in New York City, which was hosted at the Harvard Club. The annual Christmas Gala was organized by a planning committee with Rev. Father Chrysostomos Gilbert, current Dean of Annunciation Church, and Mrs. Kassandra Romas, the Gala’s Executive Chair, at the helm. The event was sold out and the Harvard Club packed with dignitaries and prominent figures attending to offer their well wishes and ongoing support, including Ambassador Vasilios Philippou, Consul General of Cyprus, and Konstantinos Koutras, Consul General of Greece, as well as Hon. Leo and Helen Milonas, John and Margo Catsimatidis, Paulette Poulos, George Tsandikos, and many more.
Speaking to NEO Kassandra Romas said that “it has been an honor and privilege to chair the annual Annunciation Stewardship and Mistletoe Galas for the 15 years since its conception. Working together with their dedicated Father Chrysostmos and the outstanding gala committee, we had an unprecedented success this year, with 550 attendees at the unbelievably beautiful Harvard Club. I am proud of the response of the community, the young professionals, the many sponsors…. All this kefi and support of Annunciation Church. Save the Date: Saturday, December 8, 2018 is already reserved for next year’s Gala!”
Founded in 1891 by Solon S.J. Vlastos, the Greek Society of New York “Athena” was established out on Pearl Street to assist Greek newcomers looking to adapt to life in the US. The small community evolved from assembling at the Two Bridges neighborhood in the Lower East Side to holding it’s first formal Liturgical service on January 8, 1894. The journey to the establishment of the Annunciation Church we know today is one of perseverance among Greeks and Greek Americans. Several doors were closed to them along the way and they transitioned to several “temporary homes” before establishing themselves at the lovely Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church we know today. It was in late January 1954 that all those present witnessed a great solemn procession of over 700 faithful making their way through the West Side, carrying the icon of the Virgin Mary along with other treasured church icons and artifacts that had been donated to their community over the years for their final transition to their current home.
In many ways, the parish in present day reflects this spirit of determination and growth and the tradition of tenacity in the face of any challenge. More importantly, their continued outreach is carried out with the grace and character that reflects the best qualities of who we are as Greeks.
In his opening remarks, Father Chrysostomos said it best: “This evening we have the opportunity to come together in celebration of many significant events. Among them, the 125th Anniversary of the founding of our parish, which we have been honoring in several ways throughout 2017. Then there is the joyous season of the Nativity, celebrate our Lord’s Incarnation and the gifts He continues to bring us both individually and collectively as a parish. There is also the meaningful ministry of stewardship which keeps this parish alive and thriving through your generosity. And lastly, but most important, we have the opportunity to honor our beloved spiritual leader, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America, who is celebrating 50 distinguished years in the Episcopal ministry.”
Annunciation itself has meant a great deal to the NYC community, with various initiatives running through their doors to bring people from all walks of life closer to the church and to the greater Greek and Greek Orthodox community. Again reflecting on Father Chrysostomos’ speech, within the many things being celebrated at the event we see one common theme: Unity and Faith. “Stewardship is more than just money, it is a mindset, it is a way of life, it is how we express our love to God by offering our gifts. It is through your stewardship, and the generations of those before you, that enabled us to celebrate our 125-year anniversary. It is through your stewardship that we have been able to make improvements to our parish facilities. It is through your stewardship we have a remarkable choir and chanters who enrich our Divine Services. It is through your stewardship that our youth have a place to go and grow and be nurtured in Christ. It is through your stewardship our Young Adults are reconnecting with their faith. In fact, in a study just released by the Assembly of Bishops on Young Adult Ministry in the American Orthodox Churches, there is much room for improvement in this area, and I am proud and grateful that our parish is at the forefront in taking steps to foster this ministry, recognizing the value and potential of these remarkable young people.”
Annunciation’s Young Professional group was initially spearheaded by Rev. Archimandrite V. Nathanael Symeonides in 2010. The group has since been involved with different areas of philanthropic outreach, including the Midnight Run program held once a season. The Young Professionals also enjoy social gatherings at local popular restaurants like Jacob’s Pickles, Maison Pickle and Ousia, which are all owned and/or managed by other Greek Orthodox young professionals. These social gatherings are a wonderful opportunity for Orthodox young adults from different parishes throughout the tri-state area to gather, socialize, collaborate and network with others who share their faith and culture.
In addition to these social and philanthropic activities, Annunciation Young Professionals Mission is fully engaged in their faith. In November 2017, the group enjoyed a spiritual pilgrimage to St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery in Roscoe NY.
“It is so important to keep our Greek Orthodox Young Professional community connected and engaged in church activities because our young adults are not only ‘the future’. They are ‘the now’. We must keep our Young Professionals engaged in the life of the Church by reaching out to them, offering a place where they can connect both their spiritual and social needs.” says Father Chrysostomos, who currently directs Annunciation’s Young Professional Ministry.
The annual Hellenic Young Professionals Mistletoe Gala is among the major events coordinated by the Young Professional Ministry of Annunciation Church. Spearheading the initiative are the two sibling duos, Paul and Chloe Politis along with Niki and Alexandra Devaris. This dynamic team has organized the Mistletoe Gala and various events collaboratively for years. The Mistletoe Gala was well received, as always, with myriads of young adults in attendance from all over the tristate area.
For more information and on how you can contribute to the ministries at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, their website is annunciation-nyc.org.