By Catherine Tsounis
Photos: Dimitrios Panagos
“We celebrate the first fruits of the harvest on August 6th, the Transfiguration (Metamorphosis) of Christ Feast Day,” said His Eminence, Archbishop Elpidophoros. “I am happy to be here in this summer community on the Feast Day of the church. Metamorphosis of the Sotiras is more than just changing clothes and glasses. It means seeing the light of earth, immortality and leaving the darkness of the abyss. We are an ecclesiastical family, not just a congregation.”
The Transfiguration of Christ Greek Orthodox Church, on Breakwater Road, Mattituck, had an uplifting, religious experience, during the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic. His Eminence. Archbishop Elpidophoros performed the Feast Day service on August 6th. The service was viewed on Facebook and recorded by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. Rev. Andrew (Andreas) Cadieux, protopresbyter of the Transfiguration of Christ Church, Rev. Protopresbyter Jerasimos Ballas, Saints Anargyroi, Taxiarchoi and Jerasimos Church, Greenport assisted Archbishop Elpidophoros. Unity as an ecclesiastical family of churches was emphasized. Cantor John Rontiris and the archdiocese cantors sang religious hymns. Archons, and the community attended.
Quarantine, masks, social distancing, for the first time in American history, was lightened by seeing and hearing a Christian survivor of Turkish life: Archbishop Elpidophoros. The parish council and volunteers performed an excellent procedure following the guidelines for Covid 19 gatherings.
“We are honored to have His Eminence visit us for a second year,” said Michael Kavourias, President of the Parish Council/archon of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. “His visit is bringing persons back to the church during Covid-19 Pandemic.” Barbara Kavourias Thermos, Vice-President of the Parish Council assisted. For an accurate list of persons who helped in this unique event, contact the Transfiguration Church office at 631 298-9652.
“We welcome His Eminence, Archbishop Elpidophoros, who will be leading her in prayer today,” said Father Andreas. “We are an ecclesiastical family. God grant him many years. EIS POLLA ETI DESPOTA.”
“I am happy that Father Andreas is here,” said Archbishop Elpidophoros. “I saw more persons with he covid-19 Pandemic than on August 6, 2019. I am happy Father Andreas is here. He is a new air in the community. He is a family man with children. The church is clean and is an example for all churches. We are happy he is here. We will have happy days when the Covid-19 Pandemic is over, and we see faces. These are difficult times. We must respect ourselves and others with masks. I promise to come back next year and for many more years as I serve as Archbishop of America.”
Father Andreas Cardieux is a genuine hero of the Covid-19 Pandemic. He was hospitalized five days. He was released, quarantined, and performed Lenten services with an oxygen tank. We saw on Facebook virtual service posts created by Father Andreas on his laptop as he performed the liturgy. “When I began my ministry in January 2020, I began an outreach program to inspire parishioners to attend services,” he said. “Parishioners were coming. Then Covid-19 hit.” His Greek is excellent. He had virtual services on the Transfiguration Facebook page that inspired all.
Father Andreas has a love story. He cared for the elderly of St. Michael’s Home in Yonkers as a seminarian. He gave hope and comfort to the elderly by speaking Greek and English. Many of us are indebted to Father Andreas’ for the compassion he showed our elderly relatives. He was introduced to Joanne, a warm, friendly NYC educator, during his work at St. Michaels’s Home. They had common interests, married, and have a family of three children.
I first met Archbishop Elpidophoros, who was the Metropolitan of Bursa at the last Feast Day service of the original Dormition of the Holy Virgin Mary in Southampton, Long Island on August 15, 2012 with Rev. Alexander Karloutsos and Rev. Constantine Lazarakis. His Eminence showed warmth, humility, and genuine friendliness. He said, “I came here in 2002 or 2003 as a deacon. I come here from the Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Mother of All churches. The Mother Church has a weakness for the church of America. Patriarch Athenagoras, who was Archbishop of America, formed a love of America with Constantinople. “No matter how large a church grows, the Mother church (the Patriarchate of Constantinople) loves you.”
His Eminence is a champion of Greek language and culture education. Educators have my respect and love. Greek Paideia is my soul. We cannot do anything without a love for Greek heritage and history. Christianity, Byzantium, and Greek Orthodoxy is built on Greek Philosophy and civilization. We will not lose Greek Civilization here in the United States of America that is a Democracy. We must not lose our Greek language, soul, roots, and history. We will support Greek language, civilization and Greek Orthodoxy.” Demetris Filippidis of Hellasfm, in his August 5th program, described Archbishop Elpidophoros same devotion for Greek language.
The iconography was created by George Filippakis He is from the Cretan Byzantine iconography school. Mr. Filippakis is a legend. His work will outlive him and be remembered by future generations. The incredible beauty gives a person hope in their darkest moments. All members of the East End shared in the building of this rural church with magnificent iconography. The Transfiguration iconography is mostly seen in Greek Orthodox churches of Greece. Being in this traditional Greek Orthodox church gave me hope for the future during the 2020 Pandemic.