New York.- By: Yvonne Montesantos
More than 60 people gathered on Saturday, September 9, 2006 to honor the highly esteemed Reverend Angelo Gavalas, known to us all as, Father Angelo, on the occasion of his 80th birthday. The picture-perfect setting took place at Saint Basil’s Academy in Garrison, New York; friends from the tri-state area assembled to pay homage to one of the greatest Greek Orthodox priests of our beloved Archdiocese.
A delicious five course luncheon was elegantly presented in the Main House, with a spiritually uplifting invocation offered by the respected Director of Saint Basil’s Academy, Father Costas Sitaras. Father Costas remarked to all in attendance that Father Angelo has truly served as an inspiration and a role model in his accomplished work in the Youth Ministry. Father Gavalas served as the National Youth Director of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese from 1982-1992. He was instrumental in laying the foundation of the Greek Orthodox Young Adult League from its onset, when he was commissioned to set forth to establish this “movement”; a movement that His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos envisioned, along with Father Gavalas. The future leaders of our holy Orthodox Churches needed to go beyond GOYA; they needed a visionary who was beloved and embraced by all! Father Angelo fit the bill; the rest is history. Youth Calendars and Planbooks were developed (this before computers made way for quicker access and in-house graphics). Father Angelo and his staff also developed the Young Adult League Guidelines, consisting of a thematically spiritual format: Diakonia, Koinonia, Liturgia, Martyria. These four components continue to inspire a generation of followers, guided by the Holy Spirit. In addition, Father Gavalas was responsible for the widely-attended Young Adult League Conferences that were attended by hundreds and hundreds of faithful Orthodox, from across our great nation.
In the Summer of 1983, over 1,400 Yal’ers met in Dallas, Texas. These bonds of fellowship continue to be woven to the present, where reunions are attended, weddings, baptisms, and other events continue into the next generation of young adults, carrying on the holy Christian Orthodox traditions with their children and grandchildren. Father Angelo, thank you for this most spiritually edifying legacy.
The current Director of Youth Ministry, Rev. Mark Leondis expressed the sentiments of all who were present at this remarkable event, and those who were not present, when he said,” Fr. Angelo, on behalf of the thousands of young people, young adults and families you have ministered to over the years, on behalf of the children of these families that have been charged to my care, I thank you.”
We all thank you, Father Angelo, and we wish you many more years in His Service.