ARLINGTON, MA – St. Athanasius Greek-Orthodox parish in Arlington MA celebrated a dual anniversary on November 1: 50 years since its parish’s establishment, and 25 years of the honorable and successful ministry of its presiding priest, Nicholas Kastanas.
A 50th Golden Gala Dinner dance was hosted at the Newton Marriott Hotel in Newton, attended by more than 300 parishioners and friends of the friends of parish including many young men and women.
Co-Chairpersons of the event were Merope Kapetakis and Bessie Theodolou. Rev. Theodore Barbas, Chancellor of the Metropolis of Boston represented Metropolitan Methodios, who was not feeling well due to stomach pain as Fr. Barbas announced. A moment of silence was observed memory of former Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who died on October 30. Consul General of Greece Iphigeneia Kanara was represented by Maria Koukoutsi.
Kastanas told TNH that “I feel deeply touched for the love and response of our people, thank God for all His Blessings upon us and to the next fifty years.” He also said that “the parish is doing well. There are of course the daily difficulties but overcome them with the love and the help of God.”
Merope Kapetanakis said “I am very happy for the success of tonight’s event, we are all happy for the 50th anniversary of our parish.” She also said that “I am in this parish since I was a small child. All my memories come from this community.”
Patriarch Bartholomew in his written message stated: “It is with paternal joy that we communicate with you in order to extend our congratulatory greetings on the occasion of your community’s 50th anniversary. Whether it be for a founder, newcomer, friend, or acquaintance of this parish, this moment is naturally to be hailed by all as a great milestone in your collective history, and also in your personal lives. These achievements are always reached when combined efforts coincide with personal labor, when we become builders together.”
Archbishop Demetrios of America wrote: “May this anniversary provide a valuable opportunity to reaffirm your commitment to the work of ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ, by building upon the parish attributes of worship, witness, education and fellowship that bring faithful closer to our Lord and Savior and the salvation offered to us as children of God.”
President Barack Obama wrote “as you mark this special milestone, I hope you take pride in your community’s commitment to faith. May the years ahead be filled with continued blessings.”
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick wrote “I Thank Rev. Dr. Nicholas Kastanas and the congregation for you many contributions to the Arlington community. Please accept my best wishes for an enjoyable celebration and many more wonderful years ahead.”
Theodore Demetriadis served as Master of Ceremonies.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ST. ATHANASIUS
During the late 1940s and 1950s, many young first-generation Greek-American Orthodox Christians began looking for a place of their own to settle down with their new families. Arlington became a favorable location to call home. They arrived mostly from the nearby cities of Somerville, Boston, Watertown, and Cambridge, where some 40 to 50 years earlier their immigrant parents had established the first Greek Orthodox communities there. As time passed on, and their families grew, traveling back and forth to their parishes was becoming a challenge, in addition to the transportation of their children for after-school Greek language classes and special events.
By the early 1960s, this situation prompted a group of Orthodox residents to look into establishing a Greek Orthodox Church to serve Arlington. After much toil and fundraising work, that notion became a reality on September 9, 1964, when their faith and donations made it possible for the future of Saint Athanasius at 735 Massachusetts Avenue to be purchased.
The former St. James the Apostle Roman Catholic Church would become available not long after thereafter, and St. Athanasius’ parishioners agreed to step forward for this worthy endeavor and acquire the vast church property, St. Athanasius’ new home.
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