Greek Orthodox Church of America Leader Visits Mattituck Church
The Feast Day of the Transfiguration of Christ Greek Orthodox Church in Mattituck was held on the evening of August 5.
Reverends Demetrios Moraitis and Elias Nikolaou of St. Paraskevi Church of Greenlawn, Reverend Vasilios Govits of All Saints Greek Orthodox Monastery of Calverton, Reverend Constantine Lazarakis from Kimisis Tis Theotokou Church of Southampton and parish priest Reverend Constantine Makrinos celebrated a unique liturgy. All were gathered for the visit of His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America who was on hand to grant the title of Protopresbyter or “Very Reverend” to Makrinos.
Prominent clergy, diplomats and Greek-Americans attended including Mr. and Mrs. Renos Georgiou, Archon representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and builder of the All Saints Monastery in Calverton, Consul of Greece Evangelos Kyriakopoulos with Fotios Gounelos, Konstantinos Fletouris and others. A reception followed in the church hall. The Feast Day of August 6 inspired all with Demetrios’ presence. The Philoptohos served a Lenten luncheon.
“Today, I left Manhattan and completed my journey to your church in two hours, without any obstacles in my way,” Demetrios said. “It was meant to be. I have come here today to bestow the honor of Protopresbyter to your priest Rev. Constantine Makrinos.”
Much to the congregation’s surprise, Makrinos was elevated to the highest rank for a married priest in the Greek Orthodox Church. The honor is bestowed upon a priest after twenty-five years of service. Makrinos is from Kardamyla, Chios.
“On August 4, I completed twenty-five years of my ministry,” Makrinos explained. “It was a great honor to receive this title.”
According to Demetrios the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church will be built at Ground Zero with the support of Mayor Bloomberg. The old location of St. Nicholas Church cannot be rebuilt. The new church will be an important center and a memorial for all who were lost. It will be open twenty-four hours a day and be a council for healing.
“Its rebuilding has been detained,” Demetrios said. “Millions want to have the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas. Marbles inside and out will be donated by Greece. Our community will donate plumbing and electrical work. We have political problems. We want your prayers and keep the image of St. Nicholas Church alive.”
Demetrios explained the state of the Orthodox Church in Slovenia with many Slovenian families living on the Eastern tip of Long Island.
“Fifty-five thousand Slovaks of the Orthodox faith are rebuilding their destroyed churches and lost theological schools with their own hands,” Demetrios said. “They built one hundred and twenty-five large, beautiful churches with traditional icons. Here in America we have everything with religious freedom.”
Demetrios then spoke of the history of Slovakian Greeks.
“I am particularly pleased to visit for the first time this beautiful church and be among its vibrant community,” Kyriakopoulos said. “It is a pleasant surprise to see the presence of so many young people.”
In the 1960’s, fifty years ago, Greek-Americans from Riverhead to East Marion dreamed one day to establish a Greek Orthodox Church on the tip of Long Island. Services were originally held in backyards. The North Fork Greek Community Association was formed in 1968 with the purpose of building a Greek Orthodox Church. The church benefactors were middle class families that included Cypriot immigrants and second-generation WWII veterans from the Aegean Islands and Asia Minor (Tseme, Smyrna and the island of Imvros). For many, the catastrophe of 1922 Anatolia, WWII, the Korean War and the 1956 Cypriot revolt were still fresh in their minds.
On October 11, 1969, the groundbreaking ceremonies were held in the middle of potato fields at 19-50 Breakwater Road (formerly Luther’s Road) by the Very Rev. Dr. John Poulos of St. Demetrios Church of Astoria and Rev. John Malouris.
The church was completed by the end of July 1970. The first religious service was held on August 6, 1970. Originally built out of wood with a small gold dome, it was destroyed by fire in 1984. The church was rebuilt. Now, in 2010, the exterior has been modeled in a stucco style, reminiscent of the Aegean Islands, where today’s parishioners have descended.
The Town of Southold has never placed obstacles in the road of the church’s expansion. They have worked with every generation of parishioners to keep the neighborhood family and religiously oriented. The church’s success reflects the town government’s respect for religious freedom and multi-culturalism. On October 20, 1969, a building permit was granted and a Certificate of Occupancy was issued on May 25, 1971.
An addition for outdoor activities near the church parking lot was initiated on July 1, 1996 with a Certificate of Occupancy on May 6, 1997. Southold Town Clerk Elizabeth Neville, and her assistant Stacey Norklun gave this documentation.
The Very Reverend Timotheos Tenedios, who was from the island of Tenedos and was raised in Imvros, modern day Turkey, was the first priest. On August 6, 1976, he was elevated to the rank of protopresbyter by His Eminence, Archbishop Iakovos, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America. His ministry was from 1970-1982. Subsequent priests included Reverends Ioannis Skandalios in 1982, Nicolaos Terezakis in 1983. Nicolaos Sitaras from 1984 until 1986, Demetrios Orfanakos from 1986 until 1987, Kostantinos Mangos from 1987 until 1989; Orfanakos from 1989 until 1996, Govits and Demetrios Karalexis from 2000 until 2002, Dionisios Marketos from 2003 until 2007, Orfanakos from 2008 until 2009 and Makrinos from 2009 to the present.
The Presidents of the Parish Council included the following persons: Founder Theofanis Kyvernitis who served from 1970 until 1980, Gabriel Kousouris from 1981 until 1982, Peter Pappas from 1983 until 1984, Andreas Markakis in 1985, Cleo Tsounis from 1986 until 1987, Christos Flessas from 1988 until 1989, Andreas Markakis in 1990, George Gabriel from 1991 until 1994, Dinos Demetriades in 1995, Andreas Markakis in 1996, Peter Gourlides from 1997 until 2005, Michael Toffalis from 2006 until 2007, Michael Pappas from 2008 until 2009 and Pantelis Siriotis in 2010.
Cynthia Pylarinos, Virginia Tripolitis, Andrea Gourlides, Mary Tatakis and Marika Maoury were past presidents of the Philoptohos Ladies Society. Peter and Helen Phillips, the late Dimitrios Korakis and the late Elias Kulukundis were great benefactors. Choir Director James Talas was recognized for his outstanding service in 2009, according to the 2009 Transfiguration of Christ Church Journal Book.
Three generations of families attended and aided in major feast day celebrations. Voula Zachariadis’ family greeted Demetrios at this Feast Day: grandmother, daughter and grandchildren were among the many families that worked unselfishly to make the event a success.
The Transfiguration of Christ Church of Mattituck is now supported by the third and fourth generations. The homes around the church are primarily Greek-American, forming the only such community after St. Demetrios and St. Catherine’s Churches in Astoria, New York. Families and their friends are now buying second homes to be near the church and beaches. The church is unique in being surrounded by a Greek community that expanded as a result of its existence. Retired families and persons with second homes in New York and New Jersey compose the congregation. Every generation reshapes their community to reflect their roots.