St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Philadelphia Celebrates 100 years

cake

The St. George Cathedral of Philadelphia celebrated its Centennial on Saturday evening, with leaders from across the Greek community and the state of Pennsylvania joining in to celebrate the major milestone. Centennial Chair Archon John Sarkioglu and Committee member Georgia Chletcos presented dynamic introductions to the celebrations, while Representative Sheila Hess announced a proclamation on behalf of the City of Philadelphia.

Proistamenos V. Rev. Archimandrite Ambrose Bitziadis-Bowers and Parish Council President and Committee Chair Professor Kostis Kourelis offered reflections on the life of the community, past and present. Protopsaltis Gregory Peios, accompanied by the St. George Reunion Choir, sang the Troparion Hymn of St. George the Trophybearer.

In the Archiepiscopal Exhortation, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros noted the multiplicity of histories embedded in the structure of the Cathedral itself: from its origins 200 years ago as an Episcopalian church, dedicated to St. Andrew; to its iconic six Ionic columns, designed by renown Philadelphia architect John Haviland, but which speak to the “deeper echoes” of a celebrated 2500-year-old Hellenic heritage; to its purchase and reconsecration by the nascent immigrant Greek Orthodox community 100 years ago. Today, St. George is the “beating heart” of the Greek Orthodox community of Philadelphia and the surrounding parishes, and its Centennial marks a “commencement— a fresh beginning for the next hundred years.”(Full Exhortation)

Centennial Committee Chair and Philoptochos President Jenny Kravaris, assisted by Sophia Conroy and Elizabeth Steiner, honored Presvyteres Antonia Katerlis and Voula Liacopulos with a special award presentation. Meanwhile, Rev. Bitziadis-Bowers, Archon Sarkioglu, Professor Kourelis, and Mrs. Kravaris presented His Eminence with a gift in honor of the occasion.

Esteemed guest speakers also included Consul General of Greece in New York His Excellency Konstantinos Konstantinou, Consul General of Panama the Honorable Georgia Athanasopulos, Honorable Judge Ourania Papademetriou (Court of Common Pleas, 1st Judicial District of Pennsylvania), and Philadelphia Councilman, the Honorable Mark Sqilla.

At the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy the next morning, Archbishop Elpidophoros commemorated the the struggle of those who built the Church— both the Fathers of the Council of Nicaea and those who toiled as immigrants in a new land to nourish the community of St. George in Philadelphia— and urged parishioners to contemplate a meaningful future for their community, as well:

“Look around at the icons in this Church of the Living God. You see Saints, Martyrs, Ascetics, Hierarchs, Priests and Deacons – all of them champions of the Faith and of the Church. The heroes of your community are no different. Their images may be in photos, or on pages of church records, or even just in memory. But they are essential to the success of the Church, just as those who are portrayed in the Holy Icons.

“Our recognition of their sacrifice is a moment of profound gratitude – of eucharistic thankfulness to God and to them, for their faithfulness to the traditions of all our spiritual mothers and fathers. Their adherence to the faith of the Ecumenical Councils, which finds its ultimate expression in the teaching of the Holy Icons, is an everlasting gift. So, then, my brothers and sisters – what shall be our gift to the generations to come? To those who will celebrate the Bicentennial of this Holy Place, one hundred years later?

“….every effort you put forth in your community to make of it a communion of love and mutual respect, will be the gift that takes you to your Bicentennial. And why is this? Well, it is because your children and your children’s children will want to be a part of such a community – a place of acceptance, respect, compassion and, above all, love.” (Full Homily)

Following the service, His Eminence honored Rev. Ambrose Bitziadis-Bowers and Professor Kostis Kourelis with the Archdiocese's own special Centennial icon of the Sower for their work in the community.

Parishioners were joined at the historic service by His Eminence Archbishop Nelson Perez (Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia), Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Konstantinou, Consul Dimitris Papageorgiou, and Consul General of Panama Georgia Athanasopulos.

Members of the St. George Centennial Committee include Centennial Chairs John and Penny Sarkioglu, General Chairs Prof. Kostis Kourelis and Mrs. Jenny Kravaris, and Committee members Anthony Beldecos, Georgia Chletcos, John Haviaras, Paul Karagiannis, Angela Malicki, Tina Marlos Tsiadis, Leonidas Melissinos, Caliann Mitoulis, Marina Panou, and Andreas Petridis.

The Cathedral of Saint George will continue hosting events throughout its Centennial year. For more information visit:https://www.saintgeorgecathedral.org/